Autoimmune Diseases in Dogs
Autoimmune diseases include a wide range of conditions whereby the immune system attacks the body’s cells and tissues. The type of treatment varies according to the condition, with affected dogs requiring specialized lifelong care and support.
Owners should keep a close watch on diagnosed pets as sufferers usually undergo alternating periods of remission and flare-ups. Each type of autoimmune disorder attacks specific parts of the body, which results in diverse physical symptoms. Additionally, some breeds may be more susceptible to certain autoimmune diseases.
Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia
Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AHA) occurs when the immune system attacks the body’s red blood cells. This affects the level of oxygen circulated around the body, leading to a wide range of physical symptoms. The most common symptoms include lethargy, skin discoloration, and collapse.
Cocker Spaniels and Poodles are most susceptible to AHA. The condition may be primary or secondary. Primary conditions are inherited disorders that involve faulty immune systems.
Diagnostic tests: Includes a complete blood count, electrolyte tests, fecal analysis, and reticulocyte count (which checks how fast your pet’s body is producing red blood cells in response to the anemia).
Treatment: Vets would usually prescribe a course immunosuppressants to keep the condition under control. Blood fusion might be prescribed in serious cases. Vets may surgically remove the spleen (the organ responsible for the destruction of red blood cells) if the body is resistant to drug treatment.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a rare hereditary condition that affects various parts of the body. SLE is worsened through exposure to UV and often characterized by weakened kidney function.
Diagnostics: Comprehensive blood tests are usually conducted, where most sufferers of SLE are positive for antinuclear antibodies (ANA).
Treatment: A prescribed course of immunosuppressants to reduce inflammation. Serious cases may require surgical procedures of the kidney and spleen.
Estimated Fees for Autoimmune Disease Treatment
Fees vary vastly depending on the type, recurrence, and severity of autoimmune disease. Payment may include consultation, diagnostics, medical treatment, surgery, and follow-up vet visits (which may repeat the other items on the list).
Cost to Treat: $500 to $20,000 if surgery or ongoing treatment is necessary.
Home Care and Management of Dogs with Autoimmune Diseases
Owners should pay attention to the slightest changes in pet behavior or signs of discomfort. Vets should be contacted immediately for the quickest diagnosis and management of symptoms. These diseases may be life-threatening when left untreated, depending on the cells and tissues rejected by the immune system. With prompt diagnosis, treatment, and vet follow-ups, affected pets can have the best quality of life.