In honor of May as Lupus Awareness Month, the team at Northwest Boxer Rescue would like to shed some light on the issue effecting thousands of dogs across the United States; Lupus. As an autoimmune disease, Lupus attacks cells, organs and tissues within its own body as if they were diseases (source). The disease isn’t curable, but can be managed with appropriate treatment.
This disease doesn’t favor an exact gender or age, but on average symptoms occur around 6 years-old. According to Pet MD, Lupus has a tendency to effect Shetland sheepdogs, collies, German shepherds, old English sheepdogs, Afghan hounds, beagles, Irish setters and poodles.
Although Lupus is relatively rare, it is still important to know and understand the symptoms. The most common symptoms include loss of hair on the bridge of the nose, lips, mouth, around the eyes, and ears. Below is a more comprehensive list of symptoms from the Pet Wave:
Paleness of thin on the bridge of the nose
Skin redness, especially on the bridge of the nose, face and lips
Skin scaling and flaking, especially on the bridge of the nose, face and lips
Skin erosions (sores), especially on the bridge of the nose, face and lips
Skin ulcerations, especially on the bridge of the nose, face and lips
Skin crusting, especially on the bridge of the nose, face and lips
Scarring, especially on the bridge of the nose, face and lops
Pain at affected areas
Itchiness, may or may not be present
Scratching at affected areas
Secondary bacterial infections
Lupus especially hits home at Northwest Boxer Rescue because one of our own is living with the disease. Meet Frankie, a 2 year-old boxer living life her life with Lupus. Although it might seem like a dog with a disease like Lupus would be difficult to take care of it’s not! In fact, Frankie is a normal 2 year-old dog living a normal life. Frankie’s foster mom, Karri Zimmerman gave us the 411 on what a regular day looks like for Frankie.
“Frankie’s day starts by going out with all the other dogs, then coming in and eating breakfast followed by her letting me give her 2 pills followed by a treat. Other supplements she takes come in capsules- I open and mix into her food,” said Karri.
She spends the rest of her day home, playing with her foster brothers while Karri is at work. Once Karri gets home the feeding routine repeats itself. Then it is play time in the yard, walks with her brothers and couch time for little Frankie.
The key to managing Frankie’s Lupus is watching her closely to be aware of subtle changes before they turn into bigger issues, says Karri. She tries to keep her out of direct sunlight and feed her a healthy diet to supplement what her body needs. Besides some small adjustments, Frankie lives a normal life. She still enjoys games and snuggles as much as the next dog and is still looking for her forever family.