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Vet Talk: Lupus in Dogs – Everything You Need To Know

Pet Care Tips 4 min read
Lupus in dogs
hillary-cook

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a fairly rare and potentially fatal autoimmune disease that mostly affects dogs. Although rare, it is believed that many cases of SLE go undiagnosed. In today’s blog, I’ll touch on what to look for (signs and symptoms of SLE in pets) and how to best manage your pet with SLE.

There are 2 forms of the autoimmune disease. One is called Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, which affects multiple systems within the body. The other form is called lupus erythematosus (DLE), which affects mostly the skin. SLE is the more serious form of the disease. In SLE, the dog’s immune system fights itself by forming antibodies that attack its own cells and tissues. SLE results in overall inflammation of the body and can lead to potential organ damage; it’s important to be aware of the disease so management can begin as soon as possible.

The most common signs of SLE are arthritis that effects several joints, painful muscles, shifting lameness, skin sores and blisters, protein in the urine, decreased platelet and white blood cell count, fluctuating fevers, and immune mediated hemolytic anemia.

Some breeds of dogs like Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, German Shepherds, Afghan Hounds, Beagles, Poodles, and Irish Setters are more at risk of SLE.

One of the reasons for the disease going undiagnosed is that the signs and symptoms of the SLE are similar to other health issues pets may have, such as drug reactions and cancer.

puppies

How Your Vet Will Diagnose SLE in Pets

There is no one single test to diagnose SLE. Blood tests and urine analysis are required for diagnosis. Some dogs and cats test positive for ANA (anti-nuclear antibodies). Diagnosis is typically made using a combination of a positive ANA test with one significant sign plus two less significant signs of SLE. It can be difficult to make a positive diagnosis since other problems, such as drug reactions, cancer, kidney disease, muscular skeletal disorders can all have many of the same signs or symptoms.

What is the Treatment for SLE in Dogs?

SLE can be managed, not cured, while the disease itself is chronic (signs of SLE can be acute, chronic or both). Lifelong medical management is necessary at all stages.

Treatment is mainly aimed at decreasing the inflammation and autoimmune activity, which is why western treatment centers around ant-inflammatory and immunosuppressive medications such as steroids, and sometimes includes additional immunosuppressants such as azathioprine, cyclophosphamide, or cyclosporine.

Prognosis depends entirely on how each dog (or cat) is affected, but owners can expect that their pets will require life long treatment.

In general, autoimmune diseases can be helped holistically by a restricted protein diet, probiotics, antioxidants, herbal supplementation, and fatty acid supplementation.

As SLE affects many systems in the dog’s body, NHV recommends using multiple supplements to help support the body. All supplements can be taken together and should be given at the therapeutic dosage or higher (please call a NHV Pet Expert if you have dosage questions).

Recommended NHV Supplements For SLE in Dogs

NHV ES Clear to help with overall immune function and support hemoglobin levels.

BK Detox, which is good for pets with compromised immune systems. It acts as a support for the blood and helps flush toxins and impurities. It is also high in antioxidants.

NHV Felimm, which will continue to help support the immune system, detoxify the blood and lymphatic system.

NHV Multi Essentials, a plant based nutritional support. Extra nutritional support is especially important since a low protein diet is recommended for pets with SLE.

NHV Turmeric, which is high in antioxidants, helps scavenge free radicals and is a good support for heart health and arthritis.

NHV PetOmega 3 to make sure your dog has those essential fatty acids and for it’s anti-inflammatory actions.

NHV Yucca to help with digestion and inflammation. With lupus the body is in an inflamed state and the Yucca will help.

I hope you do reach out if you have any questions with your dog or cat who may be suffering from lupus. I am available for a holistic vet consult, where you can send me blood work and test results and I can provide a more comprehensive plan for your pet. On-line vet consults can be booked through NHV here.



Dr. Hillary Cook is a graduate of Virginia Maryland Regional Veterinary Medical school. She has been practicing holistic and integrative veterinary medicine for fifteen years. She certified in Veterinary acupuncture and is fully qualified in Western and Chinese herbalism. She is the owner of Animal Wellness Center, an integrative veterinary clinic in Crozet, VA. She enjoys spending time with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of pets including dogs, cats and chickens. When time allows, you can find her in the garden or on the tennis court!

Published: May 10, 2017

9 replies

  1. Jill Carson says:

    My daughter has a German Sheppard with Lupus. His eye lid is encircled with blood. Can you recommend a supplement that can help this poor lovable family pet that is so good with the little children. Thank you.

    1. NHV Natural Pet Products says:

      Oh Jill, we’re so sorry your sweet grand-pup is going through this Lupus is an autoimmune condition, so we recommend products which help to balance the immune system. ES Clear can help support immune system health, as well as Natures Immuno. Other symptoms of Lupus can be addressed on a symptomatic basis. For your pup, Ey Eas may be beneficial depending on what’s causing the troubles. You may be interested in reading Dr. Cooks blog about Lupus here: https://nhvpethealth.com/vet-talk-lupus-in-dogs-everything-you-need-to-know/

      Please don’t hesitate to reach out any time you have any questions

    2. NHV Natural Pet Products says:

      Hello Jill,

      We are so sorry to hear of your daughters German Shepard’s condition.

      A few supplements we can recommend you’ll find within the article. In particular, our veterinary team in this case would recommend Yucca, Turmeric and Milk Thistle. These products will help to support the immune response, organ function and reduce inflammation.

      We wish this wonderful German Shepard and his beautiful, caring family the very best and we hope to support this fur kiddo continue living his life with your precious children.

  2. Lori says:

    my German shepherd, Gretchen, was recently diagnosed with SLE lupus. Her toenails started falling off. Do you have a product that will help prevent them from falling off?

    1. NHV Natural Pet Products says:

      Hello Lori,

      We’re so sorry that your beloved Shepard is going through this, it’s so hard when our beloved pets are ailing. Although we do not have a product to prevent the nails from falling off, there are supplements you can use to strengthen their hair, skin and nails as well as support their compromised immune system. Petomega 3 will provide essential fatty acids that help to support healthy skin, hair and nails. Multi Essentials will provide essential vitamins and minerals that your pets system may not be able to sustain and ensure that your pet has the tools to fight the illness.

      Please reach out should you have any questions or concerns and we are more than happy to help you and your beloved fur kiddo

  3. Ellana says:

    Hello…My 4 year old Cocker Spaniel has a dx of DLE Lupus. We have him on antibiotics and steroids for the moment. I’m looking for a more natural way of managing his lupus. I have read about Sulfer, Vitamins B&E, plus Omegas. I’m not sure where to start. Any information that youo can provide to me would be great. His current Vet is open to natural methods but has no experience with supplements. I have him on a limited ingredient dog food. Thank you so much.

    1. Raphael M says:

      Hi Ellana, we’re so sorry to hear about your furbaby. You can definitely follow Dr. Cook’s recommendation on the blog for the treatment of Lupus. The recommended supplements are:
      – ES Clear to help with overall immune function and support hemoglobin levels.
      – BK Detox, which is good for pets with compromised immune systems. It acts as a support for the blood and helps flush toxins and impurities. It is also high in antioxidants.
      – Felimm, which will continue to help support the immune system, detoxify the blood and lymphatic system.
      – Multi Essentials, plant-based nutritional support. Extra nutritional support is especially important since a low protein diet is recommended for pets with SLE.
      – Turmeric, which is high in antioxidants, helps scavenge free radicals and is good support for heart health and arthritis.
      – PetOmega 3 to make sure your dog has those essential fatty acids and for its anti-inflammatory actions.
      – Yucca to help with digestion and inflammation. With lupus, the body is in an inflamed state and the Yucca will help.

  4. My 12 yr old dog (lab, pit ,German shepherd)was diagnosed lupas in January steroids did not help. she slowed down this month and took a dramatic decline this weekend. We have to help her up and walk cause she stumbles, she’s gets hot easily, decline in eating and now only soft food small pieces. She sleeps all day long. She got disoriented going to her dog door and had a panic attack because she also had no idea how to back up. Calling vet in morning, but just found your website thought I’d express my concern. Daisy is my baby.

    1. Team NHV says:

      Hi Brandi,

      Oh dear, we’re sorry to hear that your pupper has been diagnosed with Lupus . We can imagine how incredibly difficult it is to see her in pain and not acting like herself and refusing to eat. We asked our in-house-vet Dr. Aline what she recommends that would help your sweet girl, and this was her recommendation:

      “For her case, since it’s an autoimmune disease we’d recommend Yucca, and since she’s having some neurological disorders we’d add Natures Immuno, Petomega 3, and Turmeric as well.
      Diet will be important too so it’s always good to check with the vet for a balanced diet that could provide good support for this condition and we can also recommend a Nutritional Plan.”

      We’re here for you and Daisy whatever you two need, Brandi. We are sending you both love and positive thoughts and are always here for you for any questions you may have.

      Yours in wellness,
      Karin
      Team NHV

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