Immune System Diseases in Your Pet
Immune System Diseases That Can Affect Your Pet
Immune system diseases can be those that affect the immune system of your pet. Autoimmune diseases are the conditions in which the body is actually attacking itself. Pet autoimmune disorders takes place when the one or more aspects of the pet’s immune system becomes overactive. If this happens the capacity of the immune system to distinguish between the “self” and “foreign” is not functioning. Specifically, the immune system cannot distinguish if some proteins are part of the pet’s tissue or organ, or if it is an invader from the outside. In auto immune diseases, the pet’s body stops creating antibodies to fight invasions of foreign bodies, and instead begins producing antibodies to destroy normal cells.
When your pet, whether it is a dog or a cat develops an autoimmune disease, it can be for a variety of reasons. The exact reason is not known, but veterinarians suspect that this type of disease can be the result of a malfunction due to infection or prolonged exposure to toxins. In fact, one theory is that the immunizations may cause certain types of autoimmune disease.
What are the most common autoimmune disorders that can affect your pet?
1) Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia – This is a disorder that causes the animal to produce antibodies to fight their own red blood cells. The result is anemia.
2) Hypothyroidism – Sometimes called lupus, this disorder causes your pet to form antibodies as well. But the antibodies fight against a variety of tissues including the kidneys, skin and blood cells and the dog’s thyroid gland.
This disorder is usually seen in dogs that are middle-aged and older dogs. The breeds that are more affected by this problem are Old English Sheepdogs, Doberman Pinschers, Irish Setters, Great Danes, Shetland Sheepdogs and Labradors.
3) Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca – Also called KCS or dry eye, this is usually related to dogs and causes the development of antibodies against the tear glands. The result of this disorder is eye disease that is chronic in nature.
4) Immune-Mediated Thrombocytopenia – Causing a reduction in the ability for the blood to clot, this is a disease in which the animal produces antibodies against their own blood platelets.
5) Rheumatoid Arthritis – Occurring in smaller breeders of dogs, this condition usually affects dogs between five and six years old. Rheumatoid arthritis strikes the joints which become painful, stiff and swollen. Sometimes it can cause the dog to be lame.
There may also be a fever and your dog may lose his appetite. Other parts of the body can be affected as well including the onset of kidney disease, tonsillitis, enlarged lymph nodes and pneumonia.
6) Pemphigus – Pemphigus is more common in certain breeds than others. Veterinarians say that Dobermans, Newfoundlands, dachshunds, chows and Akitas are more prone to this autoimmune disorder. The immune system does not function properly and the dog will develop this skin disease that begins to attack the skin cells.
As this happens the presence of sores will form on the dog’s feet, legs, ears and face. They may also run a fever and lose their appetite.
There are treatments for autoimmune diseases in pets. Some dogs are more susceptible to these problems than others. There are also more dogs affected than cats. Although research is still ongoing in the cause and prevention of these disorders, the main way of determining what the problem is and how to treat it is to schedule regular appointments with your veterinarian. Seek a veterinarian in your area who uses integrative or alternative therapies. This would be a vet who is open to other treatment options rather than standard drug therapy.