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Interview with Dr. Tobin, DVM

Dr. Stephen Tobin is a holistic veterinarian who provides treatment using homeopathic herbs and nutrition. He speaks with us about his philosophy of animal care, pet nutrition, and his experience with the Longlife Program in the treatment of his patients.

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How Does Longlife Treat Lupus in Dogs?

Longlife for Dogs contains pure shark cartilage, specially processed for maximum absorption into the bloodstream by your dog’s digestive system. It contains Amino Acids and High Proteins, Chondroitin Sulfate (a natural anti-inflammatory property), with natural Mucopolysaccharides, which promote the generation of new blood vessels and is an effective, all-natural immune system booster. Because it has no fillers or additives, it does not introduce any unexpected side effects.

Canine Lupus and Auto-Immune Disease

Canine Lupus: In Latin, “Lupus” means wolf, and the disease Lupus is aptly named; Lupus, in both humans and canines, is the disease in which the body literally attacks itself. The disease takes two forms, Systemic Lupus Erythmatosus and Discoid Lupus.

Systemic Lupus Erythmatosus

Systemic Lupus Erythmatosus (SLE, or often referred to as simple canine lupus)is a rare autoimmune-mediated disease specific to dogs. Dogs with lupus have unusual antibodies in their blood that are targeted against their own body tissues. Lupus can cause widespread systemic disease of the skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, joints, and nervous system, as well as blood (anemia and/or decreased platelet numbers). Multiple organs are usually affected.

Symptoms of SLE

The condition tends to wax and wane, so your dog will have periods of remission and of flare-up. The kinds of problems you may notice include shifting lameness(varies depending on which joint is affected at any time), weakness and palegums (due to anemia), and/or increased drinking and urination (kidney disease).The face and the feet are the areas of the skin most often affected, with ulcers and loss of pigment on the nose, and ulceration and thickening of the footpads.

From the above paragraph, one might conclude (correctly) that one of the problems with SLE is that it causes such a wide variety of symptoms that it can be confused with a number of different diseases. The signs of SLE may be acute (sudden onset and short duration) or chronic (of long duration and recurring) and are usually cyclic (recurring in a specific pattern or cycle). Some of the symptoms may include a fluctuating fever, shifting lameness, arthritis affecting multiple joints without any evidence of cartilage erosion, multiple painful muscles, anemia, a low white blood count, oral ulcers, symmetrical skin lesions including alopecia (hair loss),skin crusting, lesions, ulceration and scar formation, thyroiditis, (inflammation of the thyroid gland), and splenomegaly (enlargement of the spleen). Pyelonephritis(generalized infections of the kidney), renal failure (kidney failure), septic arthritis(serious infection of the joints), or septicemia (infections of the bloodstream) are signs that the disease is in an advanced state.

Diagnosis of SLE

Because SLE can affect many different body systems, diagnosis is challenging. In fact, it is sometimes called “the great imitator”. Once suspected, diagnosis is confirmed by specific blood tests and biopsy for examination by a veterinary pathologist.

Veterinarians should know that the list of rule-outs with SLE is extensive, due to the varied and changeable cutaneous and systemic manifestations of this disorder. Diagnosis is based on signs of multisystem involvement (most commonly anemia, thrombocytopenia, glomerulonephritis, polyarthritis, nasal and footpad dermatitis, fever of undetermined origin), a positive antinuclear antibody test, and histopathologic and immunopathologic evaluation.

Discoid Lupus

Discoid Lupus is an immune-mediated skin disease that is probably related to SLE, but instead of affecting the whole body, as SLE does, it primarily affects the nose and face. There is no known cause of this problem, but it does seem more common in dogs of the German Shepherd, Collie, Brittany Spaniel, Shetland Sheepdog, Siberian Husky, and German Shorthaired Pointer breeds. Discoid Lupus is also called Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus (CLE).

Symptoms of Discoid Lupus

The disease normally starts as a loss of pigment around the nose. There maybe scabby sores or just scaling of the nasal tissue. The surface of the nose may change from its typical “cobblestoned” appearance to a smooth surface. As this disease progresses it can cause deep sores on the borders of the nose, where it meets normal skin. Eventually, the sores start to progress up the bridge of the nose.

(Note: Nasal scarring is common with both SLE and CLE. Exposure to ultraviolet light is a factor (especially in CLE), so the condition is seen more often andis more severe in the summer and in sunny parts of the world.)

Ultraviolet light seems to make the sores worse, so the disease may appear to be seasonal. It is more common in areas in which exposure to ultraviolet light is increased, such as high altitudes. If the depigmentation leads to sunburn, squamous cell carcinoma becomes more likely than in other dogs. Topical sunscreens can be very beneficial, although it is hard to get dogs to leave them on. Keeping the dog indoors during peak sunlight hours is probably the most effective way to prevent excessive exposure to UV light.

CLE is diagnosed through examination of biopsy samples, and by histopathologic and immunopathologic evaluation.

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation worsens the skin lesions in both conditions, so sunscreen is advisable and dogs should be sheltered from peak sunlight (approximately10:00 am to 3:00 pm).

One should note that for many breeds and many disorders, the studies to determine the mode of inheritance or the frequency in the breed have not been carried out, or are inconclusive. Listed here are breeds for which there is a consensus among those investigating in this field and among veterinary practitioners that the condition is significant in this breed.

This, too, is important: Although the mode of inheritance is not known for either discoid or SLE, these conditions run in families. Affected animals should not be bred, and it is prudent to avoid breeding their close relatives as well.