Bullous pemphigoid, or pemphigus, is a rare autoimmune skin disease distinguished by blisters and ulcers on a dog's skin and/or mucus-lined gum tissues. Dogs at highest risk include Shetland sheepdogs, Doberman pinschers and collies, although all breeds are susceptible. If left untreated, bullous pemphigoid may be fatal.
Two forms of the disease can affect dogs. Open sores and blisters mark the bullous form in which the onset can be sudden and severe. These lesions are often found across the abdomen, groin, neck, head, feet and mucous membranes of the nose and mouth. The chronic form is more rare and is more difficult to treat. Dogs with a chronic form may have no appetite, run a fever or act depressed.
Causes and Diagnosis
Bullous pemphigoid is an autoimmune disease caused when the body's antibodies attack its own cells. The pemphigoid antibody under the skin's surface or in the inner mucus linings of the body creates blisters. Sunlight can exacerbate the condition. The condition can be diagnosed by a physical examination and various tests, including biopsy and bacterial cultures. Immune-suppressing agents, such as steroid creams or oral glucocorticoids, and antibiotics may be used to treat the condition.