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DLE: Discoid (Cutaneous) Lupus Erythematosus in Dogs

Learn about cutaneous lupus in dogs.

DLE is related to SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus) in dogs but is a less severe, more common variant of that condition that affects the skin only. In fact, it's the most common immune-mediated skin condition in dogs.

DLE is less serious than SLE and does not progress to become SLE.

Causes of DLE in Dogs

DLE is a condition during which the dog's immune system backfires and begins producing antibodies to and attacking the dog's own healthy skin.

It's not known precisely what mechanism underlies the condition of DLE in dogs. Scientists feel it is most likely a genetic predisposition, and the dog breeds most commonly affected include:

  • German shepherds
  • Collies and Shelties
  • Alaskan Malamutes
  • Chows
  • Siberian Huskies

Other causes that are suspected by many to cause or trigger the condition in susceptible dogs include:

  • Drug reactions
  • Viruses
  • UV exposure

Signs of Canine DLE

When a dog is experiencing DLE, the following signs may be noted:

  • Loss of color around the nasal planum (the thick, cobblestone skin around a dog's nostrils)
  • Erosions, ulcers, bleeding, and thickening of the nasal planum
  • Sometimes also occurs on the ears, around the eyes, and on the feet, though that's much rarer

The dog may rub at the nose or may not show any discomfort.

Diagnosis of DLE in Dogs

Discoid lupus erythematosus in dogs is diagnosed through a biopsy of the affected area. A pathologist can diagnose the condition by looking at the biopsy under a microscope and using special dyes.

Other conditions that the veterinarian may suspect and run tests to rule out include:

  • Allergies
  • Zinc-responsive dermatosis
  • Squamous cell carcinoma

Treatment of Canine DLE

Treatment of discoid lupus in dogs includes:

  • Tetracycline
  • Niacinamide
  • Vitamin E
  • Topical corticosteroids
  • Tacrolimus ointment
  • Oral corticosteroids

The condition may return at any time. Because of the probable genetic component, affected animals should not be used for breeding. Dogs with DLE should be protected from direct sunlight.

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Ehrlichiosis in Dogs

Immune-Mediated Thrombocytopenia in Dogs

SLE: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in Dogs

Pemphigus in Dogs

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