By Valeria Mancuso
Types of Autoimmune Diseases in Dogs
The most common autoimmune diseases in dogs include, Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis (joint inflammation), Immune-Mediated Thrombocytopenia (platelet destruction), Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (dry eye), Inflammatory brain disease (for toy breed dogs specifically), and Pemphigus Foliaceus (skin disease). Each disease can be caused by different things in different dogs.
There could be many different reasons why a dog may contract an autoimmune disease. In some dogs there is genetic predisposition. This meaning certain breeds of dogs are more likely to develop a disease because of the makeup of their genetics. For example, Italian Greyhounds have an increased chance of contracting Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis. On the other hand, drugs and medicine could be the cause of these diseases. Antibiotics might lead to a hypersensitive reaction that could cause an autoimmune disease. Also, some dogs can contract a disease through infections. For example, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, Mycoplasma, etc can trigger these diseases. Lastly, cancers including lymphoma, leukemia, histiocytic sarcoma, or multiple myeloma are associated with autoimmune diseases.
All these diseases can cause different symptoms in the dog. Here are some examples of symptoms in common autoimmune diseases in dogs. Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis occurs when the immune system os overactive and attacks the dog’s body. Symptoms may include
weight loss, loss of appetite, fever, and fatigue. Immune-Mediated Thrombocytopenia causes the immune system to destroy platelets. Symptoms may include, lethargy, small sites of bleeding on the skin and gums, nose bleeds, and blood in the urine. Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca is caused by inflammation of your dog’s tear glands. Symptoms include painful red eyes and thick-mucus-like eye discharge. Inflammatory brain disease may be caused by an infection from bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi, or a tick transmitted disease. Symptoms may include seizures, blindness, depression, loss of balance or coordination and tremors. Lastly, Pemphigus Foliaceus is caused by a genetic predisposition or drug induced. Symptoms include pustules (zits), ulcers (loss of top layer of skin, alopecia (fur loss) and crusting of your dogs skin.
The vet will most likely prescribe medication/antibiotics to help the dog fight any diseases. Steroids are often the first line of treatment for many of these conditions. Some dogs may not respond to treatment right away so a treatment called therapeutic plasma exchange can be used to filter the medication from a dog’s blood. Every dog breed, symptom, and treatment is different for each disease. Just make sure to always take care of your dogs and get them the correct treatment.