Autoimmune diseases cover a broad variety of disorders in dogs that affect the immune system. A dog’s immune system is a network of white blood cells, antibodies, and other defences in the body that fight off infections and foreign substances, including bacteria and viruses. Canine autoimmune disorders cause the immune system to attack the body’s own cells and tissue which can be life-threatening to dogs depending on which organ or tissue the immune system rejects. There are many types of autoimmune diseases in dogs with various symptoms and treatment depends on the type.
The Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
SLE is a rare autoimmune disease that can be hereditary in dogs and certain breeds are more predisposed to the condition. These include Afghan Hounds, Beagles, Collies, German Shepherds, Irish Setters, Old English Sheepdogs and Poodles. Typically symptoms appear around age six but can show up at any age and can often flare up or go into remission for periods of time. SLE can affect the skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, joints, blood and nervous system as antibodies in the blood attack the body’s own cells and tissue and usually more than one organ will be affected. Exposure to ultraviolet light can make the condition worse. Symptoms depend on where the disease is localised but can include the following:
- Joint & muscle pain or lameness
- Skin lesions or hair loss
- Thyroid problems
- Kidney infections or enlarged spleen, liver or kidneys
- Increased drinking or urination
Rest is advised and exposure to sunlight must be limited. Choose a diet that helps support the kidneys. Reducing inflammation is critical.
Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA)
AIHA happens when the dog’s immune system attacks the body’s red blood cells, which are responsible for bringing oxygen from the lungs to all tissue in the body. With AIHA, the red blood cells are destroyed or damaged faster than they can be replaced. Symptoms include:
- Weakness or lethargy
- Increased heart rate
- Weight loss
- Pale gums, skin and eyes
Cocker Spaniels and Poodles are more predisposed to AIHA. In severe cases, the spleen may need to be removed as this organ is responsible for destroying red blood cells that the body deems damaged or are no longer useful.
There are other types of autoimmune disorders and the symptoms are similar to SLE and AIHA. A fast veterinary diagnosis is vital. In addition to prescribed medication, a holistic approach can be extremely helpful when treating autoimmune disorders in dogs.
- Switch to an unprocessed diet that doesn’t contain chemicals or preservatives.
- Reduce any stress or anxiety
- Hydrotherapy and massage can be beneficial
- Supplement your dog’s diet with Omega 3, Turmeric, Selenium, Vitamin C or probiotics
Proflax Immunity & Vitality contains high levels of Omega 3 (60%) and herbs Turmeric, Echinacea & Gotu Kola which contain a concentrated amount of Selenium and Vitamin C. All of the 7 herbs included in this formula are highly anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-bacterial.
This blend will assist in supporting autoimmune disorders and can be used alongside prescribed medication, however, if in doubt please ask your own vet for advice.