Canine Discoid Lupus


Nasal Solar Dermatitis
Discoid Lupus treatment in German Shepherd
Discoid Lupus
Discoid Lupus Erythematosus

Nasal Solar Dermatitis (Collie Nose)

Becky Vaughan-Curran
Garwood Kennels

Side View

Collie Nose is a discoloration of the nose pigment diagnosed as Discoid Lupus Erythematosus. Originally thought to be an allergic reaction to sunlight, the condition is only aggravated by prolonged sun exposure. Though not painful, the lighter colored areas are very sensitive to sunlight and can be sunburned. The dog should be kept out of bright sunlight as much as possible or the affected area should be protected with a sun screen lotion. Though it is known as Collie nose it is not indigenous to the Collie breed as it also appears in the Shetland Sheepdog and any mixed breed farm shepherd type dogs. One Disease know as DM (Dermatomyositis) in it's early stages, has been mistaken for Collie Nose.

reprinted with kind permission from Becky Vaughan-Curran
Garwood Kennels, Garwood Web Design, CKC member, AWCA member

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Discoid lupus
Michael Richards, DVM

Discoid lupus is an immune mediated skin disease that is probably related to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) but instead of affecting the whole body as SLE does, it primarily affects the nose and face. As far as I know, there is no known cause of this problem but it does seem more frequent in dogs of the German shepherd, collie, Brittany spaniel. Shetland sheepdog, Siberian husky and German shorthaired pointer breeds.

The disease normally starts as loss of pigment around the nose. There may be scabby sores or just scaling of the nasal tissue. The surface of the nose may change from its typical cobblestoned appearance to a smooth surface. As this disease progresses it can cause deep sores on the borders of the nose where it meets normal skin and the sores start to progress up the bridge of the nose. Some dogs seem to be really bothered by this condition and others show little reaction to the sores.

Ultraviolet light seems to make the sores worse, so the disease may appear to be seasonal. It is more common in areas in which exposure to ultraviolet light is increased, such as high altitudes. If the depigmentation leads to sunburn, squamous cell carcinoma becomes more likely than in other dogs. Topical sunscreens can be very beneficial, although it is hard to get dogs to leave them on. Keeping the dog in during the peak sunlight hours is probably the most effective way to prevent excessive exposure to UV light.

Treatment depends on the severity of the disease. In many cases, topical treatment will be all that is necessary, using a corticosteroid ointment (Panalog, Synalar and others). It is usually necessary to use a fairly potent corticosteroid. Vitamin E supplementation is sometimes beneficial but can take several months to show much effect. Severe cases require treatment with corticosteroids. It is possible that other immunosuppressive therapy such as gold salts or azathioprine (Immuran) could be beneficial but this is rarely necessary to consider. In people, this condition is often responsive to antimalarial medications but I do not know if this is safe or effective therapy for dogs.
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Discoid Lupus treatment in German Shepherd

Dear Dr. Richards,
 I have had a biopsy done on my German Shepherd and found out that she does in fact have Discoid Lupus.  My question now relates to treatment.  The clinic I took her to told me that the pathologist said that my dog's case is very mild and in the very beginning stages so they suggested I go for the lowest type of treatment.  I went by the clinic the other day and what they are telling me to give her is 4 capsules of Tetracycline 250 mg. each day (2 capsules 2 times a day) and also Vitamin E, Vitamin B and some fish oil capsules also twice a day.  I have no problem with the vitamin supplements but I am concerned about giving her so many antibiotics for the rest of her life.  I am not much for medications even for myself and I don't feel comfortable giving my dog so many pills each day.  My question, therefore, is...Is it absolutely necessary for her to take the Tetracycline or are there other options.  Can I just give her the vitamins and not the Tetracycline? I would appreciate any advice or referral you can give me.
Thank you, Sheryl

Answer: Sheryl-
It helps a lot when thinking of the use of tetracyline to think of it as an immune modulator with minimal side effects rather than an antibiotic. The effects it has on the immune system are probably why tetracycline can be helpful in cases of discoid lupus rather than its antibiotic effect. When compared to other drugs with immune system effects it is very unlikely to cause problems, except for causing vomiting in some patients.

Another medication sometimes used for discoid lupus is niacinamide. At the present time I think it is usually used at the same time as tetracycline, with both medications dosed at about 250mg (small dog) or  500mg (large dog) three times a day. It is also relatively unlikely to cause serious side effects, when compared to medications such as corticocsteroids but it also causes vomiting in a fair number of dogs.

Discoid lupus can often be treated with topical medications.  A sunblocker can be helpful. You have to use a waterproof one and it should have an SPF of 30 or greater. Some dogs do better with oral supplementation of Vitamin E, usually 400 to 800 IU per day.  Keeping affected dogs indoors helps a lot, too.

Topical application of a potent corticosteroid, like fluocinolone acetonide or betamethasone dipropionate applied twice daily will often control the symptoms of discoid lupus and is preferable to using oral or injectable

It would really surprise me if the vitamins and fatty acid supplementation would work alone but it might, if you also use sunblock and try to avoid exposure to the sun, too. Topical corticosteroids work for many dogs and the combination of these things and tetracycline and niacinamide works for most dogs.

Mike Richards, DVM

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Discoid Lupus Erythematosus

discoid3 Also called:

·         DLE
·         Discoid Lupus
·         Collie Nose

What is Discoid Lupus Erythematosus?  
Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) is a skin condition of dogs.  It typically causes a loss of color in the hairless, moist part of the nose.  A normally black nose may fade to gray or pink.  The discoloration can be accompanied by ulcers and bleeding.  The skin around the nose may also look abnormal, and rarely, the disease affects other parts of the skin.  It does not affect other organs. 

What causes Discoid Lupus Erythematosus? 
The skin lesions in DLE arise when the animal’s immune system targets the skin.  The immune system normallydiscoid clears infections and any substances that are “foreign” to the body, while ignoring, or tolerating, substances that are normally found there.  In DLE, we believe that the immune system considers some of the normal components of the skin as foreign.  It uses the mechanisms normally launched at foreign invaders to try to “clear” these skin components.  The resulting inflammation and skin damage lead to the visible changes seen on the surface.

Unfortunately, we do not know all the factors that contribute to this error.  We do know that some breeds of dogs seem more prone to developing the disease.  In many dogs, sunlight exacerbates the disease.  Once DLE has developed, it tends to be a lifelong condition due to the long-lasting “memory” of the immune system.  

How is Discoid Lupus Erythematosus diagnosed? 
The diagnosis is based on skin biopsies.  Due to the location of the skin lesions, general anesthesia or sedation may be required to collect the biopsies. 

How is Discoid Lupus Erythematosus treated? 

Treatment consists of oral medications, topical therapy, or a combination of both.  Oral
medications are usuallydiscoid2 prescribed, as dogs tend to resist the application of medications to the nose, and can also quite easily remove them.  Since DLE can be exacerbated by sun exposure, a sunscreen (not containing zinc oxide) should be applied to the nose when the dog goes outside.  It is best to keep your dog indoors during the peak daylight hours.

The treatment for DLE may need to be continued for life, but serious side-effects from the treatments are uncommon.  Routine rechecks are recommended to enable the dose of medications to be kept as low as possible.

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Oona's Diary
Systemic Lupus

chloebutton talabutton

The above information is simply informational. It's intent is not to replace the advice of a veterinarian nor to assist you in making a diagnosis of your pet. Please consult with your own veterinarian for confirmation of any diagnosis. Your pets life may depend on it.