Autoimmune Disease in Dogs - Guest Blogger: Amber Drake
Pet Care & Health

Autoimmune Disease in Dogs- Guest Blogger: Amber Drake

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
4 years ago

Autoimmune diseases, fortunately, are rare in dogs. When your dog has an autoimmune disease, antigen-antibody cells spread throughout the body and attack the dog’s own body rather than attacking diseased cells. In a healthy body, only dangerous cells are attacked. In general, there are several noticeable symptoms a pet parent may be concerned with.

Symptoms of autoimmune disease may include the following:

  • Fever
  • Weight Loss
  • Lethargic behavior

There are multiple types of autoimmune diseases which are characterized based upon the bodily system they are attacking. Let’s discuss several of the autoimmune diseases dogs may face.

Addison’s Disease: This disease occurs when antibodies attack the adrenal gland. Symptoms include:?

  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Kidney failure
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased thirst

Lupus: This is disease which attacks multiple organs throughout the dog’s body. Symptoms include:

  • Loss of fur
  • Arthritis
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anemia
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Ulcerations in the skin

Anemia: Occurs when antibodies attack a dog’s red blood cells. Symptoms of anemia include:

  • Lethargy
  • Swollen extremeties
  • Jaundice
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Thrombocytopenia: This occurs when antibodies attack a dog’s platelets. This condition prevents your dog’s blood from clotting properly. This is often accompanied by lupus. Symptoms include:

  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Internal bleeding
  • Hemorrhaging

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Occurs when antibodies attack a cell known as immunoglobin G. Immunoglobin G regulates your dog’s blood circulation. Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty moving
  • “Clicking” joints when moving

Diagnosis and Treatment of an Autoimmune Disease

As you can see, the symptoms of autoimmune diseases range significantly. This results in the diagnosis of an autoimmune disease being difficult. In order for your veterinarian to determine if an autoimmune disease is present, bloodwork must be taken and analyzed.

The treatment of autoimmune diseases vary; however, most autoimmune diseases may be treated with diet changes and/or medications. For example, rheumatoid arthritis may be treated by taking aspirin as well as some type of cytotoxin. Cytotoxins attack the antibodies which are damaging your dog’s health.


PetFirst Pet Insurance guest blogger Amber L. Drake holding her dog
Amber L. Drake, a Professional Canine Behaviorist and Adjunct Professor of Biological Science, has extensive experience in the Animal Science Field. She has worked with dogs professionally for over ten years. Her clients range from private pet parents to large canine rescue organizations. In addition to accepting clients on a regular basis, Drake serves as an Adjunct Professor at Jamestown Community College and Kaplan University. Drake has earned a Doctor of Education (ABD), Educational Specialist Post-Masters, Master of Arts in Education and a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She has completed coursework at Cornell University for Pre-Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, Biochemistry at UC Berkeley, Veterinary Technology at Penn Foster and a number of Continuing Education courses to remain up-to-date in her field.

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