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Systemic Lupus Erythematosus     

Common names or abbreviations:

bulletSystemic Lupus Erythematosus
bulletLupus
bulletSLE

Description or definition:

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Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE or often just referred to as lupus), is a rare autoimmune-mediated disease which is seen in dogs.  An autoimmune disease occurs when the body’s tissues are attacked by its own immune system.  Dogs with lupus have unusual antibodies in their blood that are targeted against their own body tissues.  Lupus can cause disease of the skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, joints, and nervous system.  Lupus causes wide spread systemic disease of the skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, joints, and nervous system, and blood (anemia and/or decreased platelet numbers).  Multiple organs are usually affected.

Symptoms:

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One of the problems with SLE is that it causes such a wide variety of symptoms that it can be confused with a number of different diseases.  The signs of SLE may be acute (sudden onset and short duration) or chronic (of long duration and recurring) and are usually cyclic (recurring in a specific pattern or cycle).  Some of the symptoms may include, a fluctuating fever, shifting lameness, arthritis affecting multiple joints without any evidence of cartilage erosion, multiple painful muscles, anemia, a low white blood count, oral ulcers, symmetrical skin lesions including alopecia (hair loss), skin crusting, lesions, ulceration and scar formation, thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland), and splenomegaly (enlargement of the spleen).  Pyelonephritis (generalized  infections of the kidney), renal failure (kidney failure), septic arthritis (serious infection of the joints) or septicemia (infections of the bloodstream) are signs that the disease is in an advanced state.

Diagnosis:

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A blood test is the primary laboratory test used to diagnose systemic lupus erythematosus.  Blood tests are used to check for the presence of liver or kidney damage and to evaluate for anemia and low platelet count and a positive anti-nuclear antibody (ANA) test.  Dogs with elevated levels of circulating lupus-associated antibodies (ANA titers) do not always have lupus.  Therefore, even if the ANA test is positive, a definitive diagnosis of lupus is generally not made unless there are also other specific symptoms present such as the involvement of multiple organs and/or at least two other major symptoms that are not explainable by another conditions. Some of the more common symptoms veterinarians may look for might include increased protein in the urine, immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, decreased platelet numbers, and decreased white blood cell count.

Treatment:

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Treatment of SLE is directed toward decreasing inflammation and/or the level of autoimmune activity.  Therapy is based on the anti-inflammatory and immuno-suppressive effects of certain corticosteroids.  However, because of the wide-ranging effects of lupus, other supportive therapy tailored for the individual dog is usually required.  Antibiotic therapy is important for dogs with infections.  Support for the dog with renal dysfunction may include fluid therapy and a low protein diet.  Splenectomy (removal of the spleen) may be required in other cases.  Owners of pets with lupus are advised to limit their dog’s exposure to sunlight, because ultraviolate rays can play a factor in flare ups of this disease.  Life long treatment can be anticipated.

Links to sites about this disease:

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http://www.upei.ca/~cidd/Diseases/immune%20disorders/lupus%20erythematosus.htm

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http://www.vetinfo.com/dencyclopedia/delupuser.html

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http://www.vetmed.ufl.edu/path/teach/vem5110b/sle.htm

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http://www.vetinfo4dogs.com/dlupus.html

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http://www.provet.co.uk/health/diseases/sle.htm

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http://www.dmso.org/articles/lupus/erythcys.htm

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http://www.upei.ca/~cidd/Diseases/immune%20disorders/lupus%20erythematosus.htm

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http://www.diy‑medical‑knowledge.com/lupus/lupus‑in‑dogs.htm

This summary provided by:

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Jessica S

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Wildfire Kennel

 

 

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Copyright © 1998 - 2009. Shiloh Shepherd Dog™ Club of America.
All rights reserved. Revised: January 2008

The information on this website was written by ISSR breeders and other concerned individuals, however we are are NOT veterinarians. This information is being provided as a general overview, from information we were able to find about each disease through our own research. These summaries are not intended to be relied upon as medical or veterinary advice, nor do we consider ourselves experts in the veterinary field or in any of these conditions. While we do our best to provide the most up to date information, new research is constantly being done on these diseases. We recommend that you do further study and talk to your veterinarian on any topics you see here, as we cannot guarantee that the information posted here is the most current information available.  This site was originally designed and maintained by Debbie Knatz.