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What is Lupoid Onychodystrophy?

If your dog is continuously having paw and claw related issues, he may have a condition known as lupoid onychodystrophy.  It is an immune-mediated condition that affects your dog’s nails and paws.  It is considered a type of lupus your dog can suffer from and therefore cannot be passed on to other animals or to humans.  While there is no cure, there is treatment and management.  In some cases, the symptoms go away with proper supplementation with very few to no relapses.  Other cases are more of a chronic issue with lifelong treatments needed.  While it is frustrating to deal with, it is a condition your dog can live with.

If you notice your dog constantly licking his feet, his paws bright red and irritated, or his nails growing abnormally it would be a good idea to have him evaluated by a veterinarian.  While the symptoms may be harmless, it could be indicative of a more serious underlying cause.

Symptoms of Lupoid Onychodystrophy in Dogs

Symptoms of lupoid onychodystrophy can include progressive shedding of the nails over multiple weeks or even months.  There is also pain associated with this problem and paronychia.  Histological findings include a cell-rich interface type of dermatitis.   Symptoms can also include:

  • Feet licking
  • Swelling of nailfold
  • Inflammation at base of nails
  • Pain
  • Lameness
  • Nail sloughing 
  • Separation of the nail from the skin
  • Hemorrhaging of affected digits 
  • Nail may fall out

Types

 

Lupoid onychodystrophy is also known as the condition symmetrical lupoid onychitis.  This issue is considered an immune-mediated reaction of the cutaneous pattern.  In most cases, more than just one claw or one foot is affected.  This condition typically involves several claws on multiple feet.

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Causes of Lupoid Onychodystrophy in Dogs

This condition does not lead to a systemic illness developing in your dog.  It can be called a form of lupus that affects the cells around and from which the nails grow.  In most cases, the condition is not associated with poor diet or nutrition.  It is an immune-mediated condition that is not contagious to you or other animals.

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Diagnosis of Lupoid Onychodystrophy in Dogs

Your veterinarian will need to rule out other possible illnesses your dog may be experiencing.  For example, she will want to rule out bacterial infections, endocrine related abnormalities, or even trauma to the nails and feet.  She will perform a full physical exam on your dog in order to evaluate all his symptoms closely.  She will want to note all of them as they will help her come to a diagnosis.  

General blood work and a thyroid test will be suggested to check for abnormalities.  A complete blood count (CBC) and a chemistry panel will test your dog’s organ function and blood levels.  The thyroid test is an additional blood test she will perform to rule out hypothyroidism as nail thickening and issues can be symptoms of hypothyroidism.  

Your veterinarian may want to take a cytology sample of the skin around the affected nails.  She will test for bacterial infection, yeast overgrowth, and fungal infection.  It many cases a secondary bacterial infection develops from your dog constantly licking his paws.  

The only way to diagnose this condition error free involves the veterinarian amputating an affected digit and examining the nail cells with a microscope.

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Treatment of Lupoid Onychodystrophy in Dogs

Treatment of lupoid onychodystrophy varies in each case.  Your veterinarian may try him on supplements to help treat his condition.  It has been shown that essential fatty acids, biotin supplements and vitamin E can be helpful when treating this ailment.  Change of diet may also be helpful in some cases depending on your dog’s needs.

If there is a secondary bacterial infection, yeast infection or fungal infection present, your dog will need antibiotics, anti-fungals, and possibly medicated shampoos and wipes for his feet.  It is imperative you continue treatment at home as you will be a major role in your dog’s healing process.  Diligent claw care is important as well as monitoring paw health.  You may have to wipe his feet multiple times a day to try and prevent him from excessive licking them and causing another secondary infection.  If claws are not taken care of properly, your dog may need a form of claw or digit amputation.  If the nail falls out on its own, the replacement nail may grow out deformed, dry and brittle.

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Recovery of Lupoid Onychodystrophy in Dogs

Prognosis of recovery depends on the variables involved.  In many cases, dogs respond well to supportive medications with very few relapses.  In other cases, relapses occur more frequently and may even need lifelong treatment.  It can be frustrating for both you and your dog but it is something you can both survive.

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Lupoid Onychodystrophy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Daganie

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German Shepherd

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Hi my 5 year old german sheppard was diagnosed with SLO about 2 years ago .It started with a broken claw that would not heal. Then 4 more toes and nails started showing signs, he ended up were he almost chewed 2 of the tips of his toes off, this was while he was on steroides and also antibiotics. He has now started with another flare up ending up with open sores on his pads

Sept. 7, 2018

Daganie's Owner

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Maximus

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Mixed

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4 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Broken Nails

I have a pup who is 4.5 year old mixed breed, about 15 lbs. A month ago, he lost a claw after a particularly active trip to the park. It pulled off quite easily, like a loose tooth in a kid, with absolutely no bleeding. We disinfected and bandaged it daily until the new claw began to grow in. His nails were fairly long at the time, but he had a grooming two weeks ago, so they have been recently trimmed. We thought nothing of it and had experience it one time before about 2.5 years ago when his dew claw fell off after playing vigorously. Now, we returned home from an afternoon at the park today and have found that the same claw on the opposite paw is extremely loose as the other one was a month ago, even though his nails have been much more recently trimmed. I have been googling to see if this is more than a coincidence and I am wondering if you think we should be concerned about a larger cause. He is otherwise perfectly healthy and active. He exhibits no signs of any pain expect direct contact with the injured nail and even that is not causing him to limp. His nails are mostly black, but he has always had some whiteish stripes on a few of them. Not sure if that is normal or any indicator of an issue?

Aug. 16, 2018

Maximus' Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Nail disorders may be caused by a variety of different causes which may include nutritional deficiency, trauma, autoimmune disease, infections among other causes; without examining Maximus I cannot say whether there is a serious underlying cause or not. Ensure that he is fed a diet suitable for age and breed as well as getting some omega 3 and vitamin E supplements for dogs (not human ones); also visit your Veterinarian for a general examination as well to rule out other possible causes. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.zoetis.ca/conditions/dogs/dermatology/lupoid-onychodystrophy.aspx

Aug. 16, 2018

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Ginger

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Labradoodle

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Brittle Painful Nails Pulling Up
Painful Nails
Licking Paws, Biting Nails

Are there any other symptoms associated with SLO? My dogs eyes get weepy and lots of eye drainage. Maybe she is crying cause it hurts? The nail pain comes and goes. She often bites her toenails off as well. Poor girl. My vet had no idea what it was and had not heard of the condition. What can I give my dog to help her? She is 45 pounds. Thank you.

July 11, 2018

Ginger's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

There is a great article below from Zoetis including photos, treatment options and other information about this condition; generally no other symptoms are seen so the weepy eye is unrelated. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.zoetis.ca/conditions/dogs/dermatology/lupoid-onychodystrophy.aspx

July 11, 2018

Get your dog tested for dry eye as my dog suffers from both this and SLO

Aug. 7, 2018

Sarah F.

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Sassy

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Mixed

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10 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Scratchring

Hi My Dog Sassy has SLO and over the last few weeks she has been scratching more then normal, her coat is clean and no obvious flees. Could be associated with SLO??

April 9, 2018

Sassy's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Generalized itchiness is not typically associated with Onychodystrophy. Sassy may have another reason for her itching, and it might be a good idea to have her seen by your veterinarian to examine her and try to determine the cause of her itching, since I cannot see her. I hope that she does well.

April 9, 2018

Thank your for your advice - we have taken Sass to her vet and they thought it might be something to do with SLO and gave her a mild (5mg) storiod for about 10 days this seem to help, but meds have vinished and itchin back

April 10, 2018

Sassy's Owner

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Pixie

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Yorkshire Terrier

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Tender Footed ,Swollen Pad

I have a 10 lb. Yorkie. The pads of her feet are swollen and red.She is always licking and biting them. Over the years she had developed a hatred for people touching her nails. Our groom will no longer trim her nail, and when i take her to the vet to have them cut ,they say she holds her breath till she turns blue. Our vet has seen her several times for this problem. We've done antibiotics,anti fungal,prednasone, creams , soaks, and socks. I need help. Please. Nothing has worked so far.

Feb. 22, 2018

Pixie's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. I don't blame Pixie for hating having her nails trimmed if her feet hurt all the time, I would hate it too! If your veterinarian has not been able to get to the bottom of this problem with her feet, it may be time to seek a referral with a dermatology specialist. You might not be able to get her to the point where she likes nail trims, but if they were able to figure out how to make her feet stop hurting, she would be much happier, I am sure.

Feb. 22, 2018

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Leo

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Border Collie

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

We have had ongoing issues with treatment with 5 (now 6) year old border collie. He started limping on rotating paws six months ago. Took him to the vet, ran quick tick test which was negative and vet diagnosed him with SLO. The nail beds were infected, and all of his nails were growing in odd shapes and very brittle. Started on doxycycline, welactin and Omega 3. 10 days later developed HGE and had to be hospitalized. Taken off all medications and switched to Pentoxyfilline. After adjusting diet, he was doing better, and after a couple of more months had just started to wean him off pentoxyfilline. After only a week, SLO and GI issues reappeared. One nail grew in sideways and broke off at the quick. Massive diaahrea (but not HGE). Put him back on bland diet, metroniazadole and this time did tons of testing. Lyme still negative but positive for Rocky Mountain and that other weird thing I can't pronounce or spell which is tick-related. Very odd because we don't live in an area that has Rocky Mountain. GI and blood panel totally normal except elevated TLI (?) SLO deemed virtually conclusive without amputating whole toe, but GI issue is a puzzle. Doc (and gi specialist) wants to do a course of steroids and see if that will get both issues--gut and paw--under control. I am hesitating because of side-effects.

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Duke

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Rotweiller

dog-age-icon

5 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Limping
Depressed
Brittle Nails
Very Loose Stool

I have a 5 year old Rottweiller with SLO. He has been on meds for about 6 mos now. We have had his nails taken down as far as they can go, done all the meds, however his nails are still very brittle. He has also had terrible bowel movements the entire time, due to the antibiotic I believe. We changed his food to the Royal Canine Hydrolyzed protein dry and canned food, as per our vet. He has been on for about 1 month, and poops are still very loose. Also, he seems very depressed, and is now all of a sudden limping around. When we walk him, all of a sudden he is fine!? Not sure what is going on there? Has anyone tried a CBD treatment at all for this? Any advice? Lastly, I don't think he is in pain, as we massage his feet, he does not pull away.

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Boo

dog-breed-icon

Corgi

dog-age-icon

5 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Licking Paws
Scratching

[This is a test. Please do not post] I have a 5 year old Corgi. My dog is constantly licking his paws and I'm not sure why. He does have allergies to some things, but what does it mean when he constantly bites at it?

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tye

dog-breed-icon

English Setter

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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3 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Nails Broken And Peeling

Tye my 2.5 year old English Setter had a nail that was badly split, the vet suggested amputating the digit and we booked him in for the amputation. However, the vet who was to do the op. rang me to say that in the 2 week break between my vet visit and the op. day ALL of his nails were very pussy round the quicks. They had decided not to do any operating & said that it was Lupus. They cut his nails as best they could & trimmed all hair off his feet. I was told to bathe his feet in Hivvyscrub after going outside and not to walk him. As he was so young this was impossible after a few weeks - he just lay there depressed and miserable. My next vet visit entailed a nail being pulled off as it just hung there! Now all his nails are small hard lumps of grey. The nails that are still long are splitting from the top ie: the top part of the nail sheath is coming away from the bottom half. The a new sheath grows underneath & gradually the top bit just hangs on to the quick & Tye bites it off. At the moment he is on 3 lots of 2 Niacinimide tablets a day with food + 3 lots of 2 Oxytetracycline without food + EPA (omega 3 275mg /EPA 130 mg /DNA 85mg / d-biotin 5 mg / d-alpha - vit E -10 mg). YES I have made up an excel sheet!!! I am new to Lupoid but am googling all relevant features eg: I am asking my vet about hydrologised dog food!

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Jaco

dog-breed-icon

Dachshund

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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3 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Bleeding
Limping
Itchy

One day I got home my dog was limping and had lost a nail , we took him to the vet . They had prescribed pain meds and cut his nails but as his nails were long due to a long vein and said that was the cause of the nail falling off possibly . A week goes by and 2 other nails fall off so I go back and they proceeded to an electro pedicure to cut and shorten the vein. They had also sent the nail to have a biopsie because during the electro pedicure there was a discharge. The biopsie led to an infection but by then my dog had already lost half his nails . We then did a culture and 7 weeks of anti biotics . Now my dog is still losing nails and after speaking to my vet who contacted a dermatologist . They concluded it was probably lupoid onychrodstrophy .

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