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.
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.