What are Immune Deficiency Diseases?
Immune-deficiency diseases in dogs can be quite severe and pose a great deal of health issues. These diseases put the body’s defenses against any infection at high risk. Dogs with immune-deficiency disease may either have a deficiency in immunoglobulin or phagocytosis.
A deficiency in immunoglobulin is a condition that is marked by a dog’s inability to produce immunoglobulins, or antibodies. These antibodies are protein molecules which are produced by white blood cells. The role of immunoglobulins is to recognize and attach to specific antigens, namely viruses and harmful bacteria. By doing so, they attack and destroy these unwanted agents within the body of the dog.
The significant mechanisms of a dog’s immune system, known as phagocytes, are specific cells which phagocytize, or fight, absorb, and kill the many foreign invaders that can affect dogs. They also give antigens to the other cells, which send a warning message of the presence of foreign, harmful invaders to the system. These fighting cells are produced inside the bone marrow and are delivered through the bloodstream, and rest within the tissues in the blood of the dog. Phagocytes are typically found in the lymph nodes, spleen, brain, spinal cord, skin, and within the blood vessels and bone marrow all through the body of the dog.
Immune-deficiency diseases can also occur as a result of viruses, be a combination of antibody and cell-mediated types, or be the result of genetic predisposition within certain breeds.
Immune-deficiency diseases in dogs are a result of decreased immunity, either in the immunoglobulin or the phagocytes, of the affected dogs. It can be a primary disease, or occur due to an underlying health condition.
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Symptoms of Immune Deficiency Diseases in Dogs
Symptoms of immune-deficiency diseases may vary depending on the specific cause of the immune disorder. Symptoms may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Lesions on the skin
- Pain within the joints
- Difficulty walking or lameness
- Recurrent illnesses
There are many, many types of immune-deficiency diseases in dogs. Some of these diseases are primary, meaning they are hereditary, and some are secondary, commonly due to a specific illness or disease. Immune-deficiency diseases in dogs include the following conditions:
- Complement-3 deficiency
- Immune-mediated thrombocytopenia
- Cyclic neutropenia (Collies)
- Pelger-Huet anomaly
- Leukocyte adhesion deficiency
- Immune-mediated neutropenia
- Pyruvate kinase deficiency
Causes of Immune Deficiency Diseases in Dogs
There are several different causes of immune-deficiency diseases in dogs. Some dog breeds may be predisposed to this condition as well. Specific causes include:
- Bacterial infections
- Diseases, such as cancer
- Immunoglobulin deficiency
- Phagocytosis deficiency
- Fungal infections
- Eye and ear conditions
Diagnosis of Immune Deficiency Diseases in Dogs
If your dog is showing signs of tiredness, not feeling well, and any of the symptoms above, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Once you arrive at the appointment, your medical professional will ask you a variety of questions pertaining to the overall health of your dog, when you began to notice the symptoms, and the severity of the symptoms. He will also ask you about any recent illnesses your dog has had and how long they have lasted.
Your veterinarian will perform blood work, a biochemistry profile, and a urinalysis for preliminary lab work. The bloodwork will show the veterinarian how efficient the immune cells are within your dog. He may also perform a test to check for thyroid function in the adequacy of the thyroid hormone. He may also choose to do genetic testing, depending on the breed of your dog. This will give a diagnosis of primary immune-deficiency disease.
In terms of diagnosing secondary immune-deficient disease, once your veterinarian has listened to your description of your dog’s symptoms, he will perform tests that focus on any preliminary diagnosis he may have. Many immune-deficiency diseases in dogs occur due to underlying health conditions. Your veterinarian will need to diagnose your dog’s underlying health condition or disease in order for him to be properly treated.
Treatment of Immune Deficiency Diseases in Dogs
Treatment will depend solely on the underlying disease or condition that has caused your dog’s immune-deficiency disease. Treatment methods may include:
Depending on what is causing your dog’s immune disorder, your veterinarian may prescribe medications or supplements to help your dog’s body fight any infections, allergens, or viruses. Your veterinarian may choose to supplement your dog with enzymes and probiotics. Other supplements used to help strengthen your dog’s immunoglobulins may be suggested by your veterinarian.
Your veterinarian may also decide to go the holistic route in strengthening your dog’s immune system. He may suggest nutrients such as zinc, vitamin E, selenium, linoleic acid, and vitamin B-6. Vitamin C, A, acidophilus, essential fatty acids, and other powerful nutrients may be prescribed to your dog.
Your veterinarian may suggest herbal boosters for an underactive immune system. Goldenseal, dandelion, burdock, sumo, and red clover are some well-known immune system enhancers. This depends on your veterinarian; some veterinarians may not recommend this holistic approach. He may also suggest a dietary change in terms of the food he is eating. He may recommend a completely new diet of only fresh foods, as it gives the dog’s body more energy to fight any invasive bacteria or viruses.
Recovery of Immune Deficiency Diseases in Dogs
Research is still being conducted on immune-deficiency diseases in dogs. Prognosis depends heavily on your dog’s specific underlying condition and diagnosis.
Once your veterinarian has performed treatment and suggested alternative therapies for you, you will be able to continue these suggested therapies, such as dietary changes and adding supplements to your dog’s diet at home.
Keeping your dog as healthy as possible is important. Regular veterinary visits are essential so he may continue to test your dog’s immunoglobulins or phagocytes. He will give you suggestions on actions you can take to help prevent illnesses, such as things for him to avoid which may have triggered his illness or allergies. He will also give you suggestions on ways to improve your dog’s lifestyle in order to prevent any infections within your companion’s system.
Be sure to continue to watch for any symptoms and the onset of any illnesses or allergies. Contact your veterinarian if your dog develops any new symptoms. It will be important to remain in contact with your veterinarian for future, and sometimes often, visits in order to keep his immune system boosted and stabilized.
Immune Deficiency Diseases Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
We purchased a older English Bulldog from a reputable breader. At 4 months we noticed she started loosing all the hair on her face. The vet diagnosed it as mites and recommended Mitaban dips. First 8 dips every other week wasn't working, the last 3 have been weekly. After 11 dips there seems to be no improvement and vet doesn't know what to do. Could this be due to a weak immune system?
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I have a 10 month old, 76lb choc. lab. He is such a handsome and smart dog but has had ear infections, rashes, infections in the groin area and now a very infected hot spot on his back. He has been on steroids for a month and still got the hot spot on his back. We have switched his food to Taste of the wild which is limited protein and grain free. Could he have a immune deficiency and where could I go to get testing as our Vet we have been using he way to expensive. Do they have places that help with the cost of these kind of test.
Prednisone is given to relieve inflammation and itching in severe cases of hot spots, but long term use may lead to immune system suppression; we use corticosteroids to suppress the immune system to treat some conditions. A different approach may be needed to resolve the problem; it may be worth visiting another Veterinarian for a different perspective on this case. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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