Lupus in Dogs
Definition of Lupus
Lupus is a disease that involves the immune system attacking its own body. There are two types of lupus in dogs. Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE), sometimes called “collie nose” or “nasal solar dermatitis,” is a common immune-mediated skin disease that usually affects the face, bridge of the nose, ears, lips, mouth and occasionally the genitalia, feet and skin around the eyes. Dogs with DLE have hair loss, skin scaling and sometimes skin sores but typically are otherwise healthy. Sunlight worsens the symptoms of DLE, which tends to develop mostly in sunny summer months. Dogs with DLE sometimes spontaneously go into remission. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a much more serious condition. It targets the skin, kidneys, liver, lungs, heart and joints but can show up anywhere. Basically, SLE causes a dog’s body to attack itself from the inside out. Affected animals have shifting lameness, painful swollen joints, thickened foot pads and a stiff gait. They become weak, lethargic and depressed and can develop an array of other symptoms. Both forms of lupus probably are strongly genetic.
The exact causes of lupus are not known, but it is thought that the disease has a strong genetic component. Other suspected contributing factors include viral infection, adverse drug reactions, stress and chronic exposure to ultraviolet radiation (sunlight). Sunlight exacerbates the effects of DLE, which occurs more commonly in summer months and sunny climates.There is no known way to prevent lupus in dogs. Affected animals should not be bred, because of the role that genetics
Discoid (cutaneous) lupus erythematosus is a relatively benign variant of systemic lupus erythematosus that primarily affects facial skin. The most common site is the hairless surface of the bridge of the nose, called the nasal planum or planum nasale. Other sites are the lips, mouth, periocular area (around the eyes), pinnae (ear flaps) and, rarely, the genitalia or feet. Dogs with DLE usually are otherwise healthy. The symptoms of DLE can include one or
Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) is an autoimmune disease wherein a dog becomes allergic to its own tissues. This disease results in crusting, depigmentation, redness, and ulceration of the nose. Lesions may also appear around the eyes, ears, limbs, and other areas. DLE can occur at any age, and is seen more often in such breeds as Collies, German shepherds, Shelties, and Siberian huskies.Exposure to U-V light (e.g. sunlight) can exacerbate or even precipitate this condition.
Lupus – especially systemic lupus erythematosus - is not particularly easy to diagnose. The veterinarian must consider and rule out a number of other disorders that can mimic the symptoms of lupus before a diagnosis can be confirmed.Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) is less difficult to diagnose than its systemic counterpart. Usually, depigmentation of the skin on the nose, followed by the characteristic scaling, ulceration and crusting of facial skin, is diagnostic of DLE. Skin biopsies
Discoid lupus erythematosus cannot be cured but is more manageable than the systemic form of the disease. The goals of treating DLE are to control and resolve the facial skin lesions, particularly on the hairless areas of the top of the muzzle. Treatment protocols may include oral or topical antibiotics, topical lotions or ointments, oral vitamin E, oral fatty acid supplements and oral or topical corticosteroids. Affected dogs should be kept out of the sun