Lupoid Dermatosis in Dogs

Lupoid dermatosis is a potentially fatal condition that specifically affects German shorthaired pointers.
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Lupoid dermatosis is a disease that occurs only in German shorthaired pointers. The disease results in severe scaling and crusting of the skin, along with pain in the joints. Unfortunately, no cure exists for this disease, which is fatal in the majority of cases.

Lupoid Dermatosis in the German Shorthaired Pointer

Lupoid dermatosis is a form of lupus also known as exfoliative cutaneous lupus erythematosus. Signs of this inherited condition, including dry, flaky skin, can appear as early as 8 weeks of age. As the disease progresses, it results in painful crusts and lesions on the face, back and ears, along with hair loss. These lesions open the skin up to bacterial or fungal infections, and they are extremely itchy and painful for the pup. This disease may also cause a pup to become lame due to joint pain; it can even lead to renal failure. Because no cure exists, treatments tend to focus on relieving the discomfort the ailment causes.

It's All in the DNA

Lupoid dermatosis is a type of autosomal recessive condition because it results from a genetic mutation that runs specifically in the German shorthaired pointer breed. Just because a pup carries the mutated gene for this condition doesn't mean he will suffer from it. To suffer from this disease, a pup must inherit a mutated gene from each of his parents. For this reason, genetic testing is recommended to prevent two carriers of the gene from mating, which otherwise would result in about 25 percent of the offspring suffering from the disease. DNA testing is not perfect, but it can give you an idea of whether or not your pup is a carrier of the disease.

Diagnosing and Dealing With Lupoid Dermatosis

Lupoid dermatosis first appeared around the 1990s but may date back to the 1970s, according to Purina. Most pooches diagnosed with this condition are euthanized by 4 years of age due to the pain and recurrent skin infections it causes, according to an April 2011 study published in "Immunogenetics." Some pups may live longer if they suffer from a milder form of the disease. The only definitive way to diagnose this condition is for your vet to take blood tests, skin scrapings and skin biopsies. She may also perform bacterial and fungal cultures of the skin. After diagnosis, your vet can formulate a treatment plan for your pooch that may include the use of medicated shampoos and steroids to treat the skin.

Testing for Lupoid Dermatosis and Possible Treatment

If your German shorthaired pointer is diagnosed with lupoid dermatosis, he should not breed. Carriers of the mutated gene can breed only with specimens that don't carry the gene. When purchasing a pup from a breeder, ask whether the pups and parents were DNA-tested for the disease. This test, available through the University of Pennsylvania, requires only a cheek swab. If a pup is diagnosed with the disease at an early age, treatment with hydroxychloroquine may halt progression, according to a paper published in the Lonestar German Shorthaired Pointer Club newsletter.