Can Dogs Get Lupus From Their Masters?

by Victoria Lee Blackstone
    The German shepherd is one breed with a higher risk of lupus.

    The German shepherd is one breed with a higher risk of lupus.

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    Lupus, or systemic lupus erythematosus, is an autoimmune disease whereby the body’s immune system essentially goes into overdrive and attacks healthy cells and tissues. Lupus affects both humans and dogs, but the disease is not contracted through contact with a human, master or otherwise, or contact with other dogs.


    Lupus is an autoimmune condition with unknown underlying causes. Lupus is not a contagious disease. A person with lupus cannot spread it to other people or to their dogs. Dogs are unable to spread it to their master. Symptoms in dogs include painful joints, skin lesions, muscle pain or wasting, shifting-leg lameness, hair loss, swollen lymph nodes, lethargy, loss of appetite and fever. There is no cure for lupus; treatment focuses on symptom management and immune system suppression.

    Breed Predisposition

    While typically rare in dogs, certain breeds show a genetic predisposition for the disease. Higher rates occur in Afghan hounds, beagles, collies, old English sheepdogs, German shepherds, Irish setters, poodles and Shetland sheepdogs.

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    About the Author

    Victoria Lee Blackstone is a horticulturist who propagates heirloom and native plants for her nursery. She has authored research-based scientific/technical papers, plant care sheets and magazine and newspaper articles. Blackstone studied botany and microbiology at Clemson University and is a former University of Georgia Extension Master Gardener Coordinator.

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