Rare autoimmune diseases in dogs
What is an autoimmune disease?
The term autoimmune is a confusing one."...immune system attacks itself by mistake..."
Our bodies have an immune system that protects us from foreign invaders that can cause disease and infection; however, if you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks itself by mistake, causing illness. The immune cells fail to distinguish the body's normal healthy cells from foreign cells and thus try to destroy the normal tissues. The cause of this "mistake" is not well understood. Autoimmune disease can affect a single system or multiple body systems. Autoimmune diseases can affect skin, connective tissue, nerves, muscles, the endocrine system (the system that controls hormones and other chemicals), and the digestive system.
What causes autoimmune disease?"...some theorize that genetics and/or environmental pollutants play a role."
The cause or causes of autoimmune disease are not understood, although some theorize that genetics and/or environmental pollutants play a role. Early recognition is extremely important. Left untreated, the complications of autoimmune disease are serious and multiple system involvement is common. This can make diagnosis and treatment very challenging and complicated.
What are some of the common autoimmune skin diseases in dogs?
Autoimmune skin diseases are relatively rare in dogs. Some of the more common forms of autoimmune skin disease include:
Pemphigus is a group of four autoimmune skin diseases characterized by vesicles and bullae (large and small "blisters") in the mouth and at mucocutaneous junctions (the junction between skin and mucosal tissues). Commonly affected areas include the eyelids, lips, nostrils, and anus.
Pemphigus Foliaceus - The term means "leaf-like pemphigus" and this is the most common immune-mediated skin disease of dogs and cats. Pemphigus foliaceus is rarely found in the mouth or at mucocutaneous junctions. In this form of pemphigus, the patient develops crusts (scabs) and ulcers around the eyes, ears, footpads, groin and bridge of the nose. The Akita is reported to have a high incidence of this condition. Pemphigus foliaceus usually appears suddenly without a recognized cause, but in some cases, it may be drug-induced or can be the result of years of chronic skin disease.
Pemphigus vulgaris - The term means "common pemphigus" and it is the most frequent form of pemphigus in humans. Fluid filled blisters called "vesicles" form in and around the mouth, eyelids, lips, nostrils, anus, prepuce or vulva. These vesicles rupture easily, creating painful ulcers.
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