Saturday, August 28, 2010

Collie Nose: Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) In Dogs

A friend asked me about this condition the other day, because his friend's dog has been diagnosed with it.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which means that a dog's immune system attacks his own tissues. 

There are two types of lupus in dogs: systemic and discoid.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is fortunately fairly rare in dogs. The immune system of dogs suffering from SLE attacks various tissues in the body, including the kidneys, skin, heart, lungs, nervous system, blood and/or joints. It is a chronic and often fatal disease.

Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE), also known as collie nose, is a form of the same disease, but its impact is local, rather than systemic. 

Even though both SLE and DLE can have similar skin symptoms, DLE only affects the skin and lesions are normally limited to the face and nose.  Other diseases can also cause similar skin problems, so a biopsy is required to definitively diagnose DLE.

Breeds most commonly affected by discoid lupus are Collies, German Shepherds, Huskies, Shetland Sheepdogs, Brittany Spaniels and German Shorthaired Pointers. A genetic predisposition towards developing DLE is thought to be responsible for the increased incidence in these breeds.

The first signs are usually a loss of pigmentation around a dog's nose and an abnormal smoothness to the texture of the nose.  In more advanced cases, y red and flaky skin, ulceration of the skin, open sores and crusts can develop. Affected areas most frequently include the nose, lips, ears, the skin around the eyes and sometimes the genital area.  What all of these body parts have in common are a tendency to be sparsely covered with fur and to be exposed to sunlight.

Collie nose is aggravated by ultraviolet rays. 

This makes the disease most likely to develop in dogs that live at high altitudes and to flare up during times of high sun exposure:  either during the summer or with the increased glare off of a persistent snowpack.

Often, keeping the dog out of direct sunlight is all that is needed. Sunscreen protection is also helpful (use sunscreens made specifically for dogs.  The Zinc Oxide that is included in many human sunscreens can be toxic to dogs if they lick it off). Supplements with anti-inflammatory action, such as omega-3 or vitamin E can also help.

Consult your veterinarian before using any supplements.

Immunosuppressive drugs, such as corticosteroids are also commonly used to treat DLE.  Topical therapy may be sufficient, which significantly reduces the chances of unwanted side effects developing, but in severe cases systemic treatment and close monitoring for side effects may become necessary. Before I'd reach for any of these drugs, I would definitely want to consult a TCVM (Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine) or holistic veterinarian for alternative options first.

In rare cases, dogs with dle have gone on to develop a type of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, at the site of their skin lesions.  It is thought that the increased tendency towards developing a sunburn (because of the loss of protective pigments) and chronic inflammation of these areas is to blame.

Further reading:
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) 
Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) 
Canine discoid lupus erythematosus 
Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) Overview

Related articles:
Alternative Treatments For Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) in Dogs 

33 comments:

  1. Coming from a person that suffers from lupus, I find it very interesting that dogs CAN get lupus!! I did not know that..

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  2. Hi Karen. Sadly, it seems that dogs can get any nasty disease we do.

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  3. I had no idea Jana! Holy cow! Since I have a Sheltie, I would be interested to know if you know how common it is in those dog breeds (including the ones you listed). Jasper is in the sun a lot while playing, but in the house while I am walking dogs. This was a new one for me. I had never heard of Collie nose.

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  4. I'm sure that if Jasper had it you would have noticed it. The changes of the nose pigmentation etc would be hard to miss.

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  5. I had no idea either. The diversity of breeds is fascinating, i.e, they're not similar physical types. I guess nose length -- like a collie's -- has nothing to do with it. Hmmm.

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  6. Edie, seems like it is not known what the connection is. I'd imagine it might have to do with the pigment, that would be logical to me. I'll do some more digging.

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  7. Dogs can indeed get both the systemic form of lupus and the skin form. Fortunately, systemic lupus is not a disease I see much, at least not in my practice. It's a nasty disease when it does happen though :-(

    With DLE, I'm not sure what the incidence rate is in susceptible breeds. I do see it sometimes in practice but usually it's not particularly severe and we're usually able to manage it by avoiding sun and applying ointments/creams. Sunblock made for dogs (as Jana suggested) is a good idea. Vitamin E creams can be helpful also. Tacrolimus ointment also can be used. On very rare occasions, I've had to suggest immuno-suppressive medications, but corticosteroids might not be my first choice here. Sometimes tetracycline/niacinamide can work for these guys with fewer side effects than steroids.

    Another caution though, there are other diseases (mucocutaneous pyoderma particularly) that can look like DLE so make sure to get it diagnosed before assuming that DLE is what your dog has.

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  8. DLE is easily confused with solar dermatitis, pemphigus, ringworm, and other types of dermatitis.Discoid lupus erythematosus is an inflammatory skin disease seen in dogs and, very rarely, in cats.

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  9. I am sure that if Jasper had that would have noticed. The changes in pigmentation of the nose, etc would be hard to miss.

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  10. Homeopathic treatment that I am finding works is Apple Cider Vinegar diluted 1/2 with warm water. Use cotton ball and saturate, squeeze out a bit so it isn't dripping (just makes it easier to squeeze some on the dogs nose). clean the nose after every meal. Apply a Tea Tree Ointment (check for ingestion safety) found at your local health food store (don't use tea tree oil tincture straight as it can be lethal if ingested). Apply to nose after cleaning. There are also some PawPaw treatments for Collie Nose. Keep a good sunscreen on the nose. Dog's do put their noses in the dirt, ground so be sure you clean their nose extra if they do!

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  11. Thank you for sharing that! Yes, Apple Cider Vinegar seems to be great for a whole lot of things, cool that it's helping for Collie Nose also!

    Never heard of the Tea Tree Ointment for this but glad it's working for you. Thank you for noting the toxicity caution. Tea tree oil can also be quite corrosive in high concentrations.

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  12. G'day, our Rhodesian Ridgeback, Shumba, was diagnosed with DLE yesterday, so it does affect other breeds. Also, he has a black nose, so I guess colour isn't that big a factor.

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  13. Yes, just because a condition is typical in certain breeds it doesn't mean it cannot affect others. Also just because skin cancer is most prominent in people of caucasian descent, it doesn't mean that people with african descent cannot ever get it.

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  14. Our Sheba II had DLE and it started at a very early age. As did our Sheba I. Both tri-color collies. Sheba II died at 112 years old of age the toll DLE took on her. She literally did not have a nose as it was almost down to the bone. I would like to find out if this is an acquired disease or if it is in the genes.

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  15. Sorry you baby had it that bad!

    Yes, genetics are believed to be an important factor. It doesn't look like genetic screening test is available at this time.

    Even with genetic diseases it is not completely straightforward. If a dog is genetically predisposed to something means that the odds of it happening are higher but it doesn't mean it has to happen. Other factors play their roles, such as environment and nutrition.

    For example, a dog with predisposition to hip dysplasia might not get it with carefully chosen nutrition, or the nutrition might lessen the severity of it.

    With autoimmune diseases, besides all that, it seems that the onset requires a trigger. The trigger could be a whole range of things. Nutrition would play role, stress can be a trigger and also, sadly vaccines can be a trigger.

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  16. Hi my Hovawart has DLE (she is almost 11 now), diagnosed about 1,5 yrs .On tetracyline and niaciamide. She gets sick from the vitamine E supplements.
    She loves her sunbaths, but licks of any substance I put on her nose.
    Anyone tips or experience creating a coated muzzle or maybe another device for sun protection?
    Thanks!
    Mina from Belgium

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    1. Hi Mina, well sunbathing is not a good plan for a dog with DLE. Definitely not mid-day.

      Interesting idea, creating a sun-shade device, couldn't say I saw one though. Best idea is to minimize sun exposure in general.

      If you want to experiment, perhaps one of the leather basket type of muzzle could be modified for this purpose. Whatever you try you have to make sure that your dog can pant and drink in it.

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  17. Thanks, Jana, I'll keep that in mind. If I am able to make a proper shade device I will send you a picture! Now it is raining, no immediate need :-)
    Mina

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  18. My name is bruce and i have a border collie. I ttok him to the vet and they diagnosed it as collie nose. there was no biopsy done and to be quite honest i cant afford to keep taking him in. If anyonw has any ideas on how i could get him treated either with home remedys or possibly a discount program please email me at bruce41090@yahoo.com i would really appreciate any opinions. Thank you

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    1. Depending on how bad the situation is, since you didn't describe it, in mild cases, keeping you dog away from direct sunlight (UV light) might do the trick to keep things calm.

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  19. wow i didn't know that dogs can have lupus...

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    1. Unfortunately, dogs can have pretty much any old disease we do.

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  20. My dog Sasha has collie nose she is 1 will she have it all her life?She licks off everything I put on what can I do?

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    1. Since this is a problem of the immune system, it's like allergies - not likely to go away.

      Naturally, avoiding direct sun exposure is the best way to mitigate this condition.

      However, I feel that minimizing things that agitate the immune system, things that are pro-inflammatory and toxins would help - this starts with diet, avoiding over-vaccination etc.

      I think that if you consulted with a good holistic vet they can make recommendations regarding diet, supplements and herbal treatments.

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  21. my collie has started showing signs of this the patch is just above his nose (white fur missing) so can't really colour or tattoo over with black as it would look odd.

    I've been looking at this they are claiming good results. Anyone else tried it?

    http://www.freckledpaws.com/products/health/hot-spot/

    Also wondering as he's male if testosterone can have same effect as in male humans where can cause baldness or make it worse? Thinking of having him castrated much earlier than planned as was gonna wait till he'd matured but now worried the bald patch is gonna be even bigger with so much testosterone in him for so long? Maybe better if he can't make it and hopefully it will reduce in size to at least be less noticeable?

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    1. Hi Katilea,

      did you get this diagnosed as discoid lupus? Were other causes ruled out? For example, missing fur - is that kind of a circular bald patch? Because ringworm would do that, for example.

      My recommendation would be to get it diagnosed precisely, before thinking about treatment.

      http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=2470

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  22. My Zack has Cutaineous histio Cytosis, which is an auto immune disease, plus now i believe he has discoid Lupus. A few years back when we were fighting the histio and getting him straightened out with his allergy shots his nose had a loss of color in the winter time but was okay in summer. Now his nose get scaly skin at the base. It is almost like he doesn't shed skin cells, and his nose is dry most of the time. It seems if i keep up with cleaning is nose off with just water and paper towel, his nose is not too bad. I am going to try this cider vinegar.
    I always remembered even as a puppy his nose seemed to look grainy and not smooth and moist like my other sheltie. I asked the vet about it but he was clueless. He was also clueless to his histio disease cutting these bumps out of his face thinking they were first cysts then cancer. With weekly shots for allergys zack keeps his bumps down.

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    1. Nina, with multiple immune issues, you might want to take a good look at the diet he's on and consider some holistic and integrative approaches.

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  23. Jana With him taking all those drugs plus the steroids which I never recommend because they almost killed him I do know some foods he is allergic to. I know he is allergic to corn because it was in a food the vet gave him to get his tummy back in shape when he got pancreatitis. He also got pneumonia which near killed him from the steroids. A long with our new vet my Zack has a dermatologist who is a wonderful person, she has him on a special diet.
    Our dermatologist believe Zack is mainly allergic to his shots because as a puppy he had an allergic reaction to them with in a half hour of getting them.. The first vet we had ignored his reaction and told us to give him benydril before receiving yearly shots.

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    1. Nina, firstly, core vaccines are no longer given yearly. Cutting back on vaccinations or avoiding them all together for a dog with autoimmune disease(s) is certainly one of the important steps.

      Holistic and integrative approaches use food therapy which goes beyond simple generic prescription diet. They also include things such as herbal therapy, acupuncture and more.

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    2. If anyone is looking for a safe way to treating lupus in their dog, try looking up Lupus Kit for dogs. I followed directions to detail and my Kinsey's nose healed. Her diet is crucial to stay off any grain food. She is on grain free dog food and also treats. Also I put in dark meat chicken and brown rice. The Lupus Kit works.

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    3. Thank you for sharing this, will look into it. Too bad your suggestion didn't find Viva on time.

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