What is Dog Lupus?
Often we do not stop to think about the chances of our dogs developing some of the same diseases that humans deal with because we are too caught up in avoiding so many things ourselves these days. In fact, many dog owners do not even realize that dogs can be susceptible to certain diseases that are generally thought to effect humans exclusively. In many cases it is very difficult to even detect diseases in animals because they lack the basic communication capabilities that are used to express feelings of pain. For this reason, it is important to watch for the signs of certain diseases that tend to be prevalent in dogs, and one of the most important diseases to look out for is dog lupus.
Dog lupus, or canine lupus, as it is also referred to, is a disease that can cause extensive problems for the sufferer. It is an autoimmune disease that can affect the heart, the lungs, the skin, the joints, the kidneys, the blood, and the nervous system of a dog that suffers from it. In very literal terms an autoimmune disease can be described as a disease that makes the body turn on itself and attack itself from the inside out. There are a number of diseases that work this way, but not all of them can affect dogs as well as humans. Lupus is one that, unfortunately, many dogs do develop and suffer significantly from.
Lupus in dogs can develop in two separate but potentially equally debilitating forms. One form of lupus in dogs is easier to treat and manage than the other form though. There is no cure for discoid lupus erythematosus, but it is the more manageable of the forms of the disease that can affect dogs. Systematic lupus erythematosus is curable, but it is more difficult to control while the disease is present. In both cases early detection is important in order to protect your dog from having to deal with painful, lasting effects caused by the disease. But due to issues with communication, it is not always easy to tell if you dog is suffering from a disease, even if he is in pain. There are a few signs in particular to look for in dogs that may point to the presence of one of the forms of lupus that is known to affect dogs.
Scar Tissue from Scratching
Depigmentation of Skin
Flaky or Crusty Skin
These are all visible symptoms of canine lupus, but not all dogs will show visible signs until the disease has already progressed significantly. Being that no dog owner wants to see their dog suffer from the pain that can be caused by lupus it is important to pay attention to the not so visible signs that there is something wrong too. There are a few of these types of symptoms specifically that are fairly easy to detect if you pay a little extra attention to your dog over a few days or so.
More Frequent Urination
Loss of Hair
Although you will have to look out for these symptoms in order to recognize them for what they are, they will not be difficult to notice when you are looking. These symptoms can also signalize many other things, but it is important to be sure that there is nothing as serious as lupus affecting your beloved dog. If there is, and if you are aware of the presence of lupus, then there are a number of things that you can do or have done for your dog that will either cure him, or at the very least, manage the disease. A few types of treatments in particular will help to provide some relief.
Pain Relief – It is important to deal with your dog’s pain right away, even while you are still trying to determine whether or not your dog is being affected by lupus. Dogs do not deal with pain well at all because there is little they can do to relieve their own pain. If they are suffering from pain you will likely notice wincing and possibly yelping when your dog moves in certain manners. Pain relief usually comes in the form of NSAIDS, but anti-inflammatory medications will also lead to pain relief as well, as inflammation is often the cause of the pain associated with lupus to begin with. You dog’s veterinarian will be able to give you more information on the specifics of the medications used to treat pain in dogs.
Skin Treatments – Various skin treatments can be used on your dog to help relieve the skin aspect of the lupus. The sores and legions that can develop as a result of the disease can be very painful, and the open wounds can easily become infected. In addition, excessive scratching can make your dog’s skin raw and lead to the development of even more open wounds and infection. Ointments to treat these things are inexpensive and easy to apply, and many of them will not only provide instant relief but will also help to cure the skin issues your dog is dealing with as well.
Internal Healing – Last but not least, you want to deal with the disease from the inside as well. There are a number of treatment options that can be provided by your veterinarian, but there are also some things that you can do yourself for your dog as well. The focus in this respect is to heal the internal effects of the disease, such as the sore joints that your dog may experience. And one thing that you can do to help this aspect of the disease is supply your dog with collagen supplementation. Collagen for dogs is a safe way to help your dog rebuild the collagen that he may lose as a result of having lupus, and it will help protect him from futures issues involving the bones and joints as well.
Lupus is not a disease that you want to see your dog have to deal with, but it does affect thousands of dogs every year. If you watch out for the warning signs, though, you will at least be able to provide some relief for your beloved best friend.