First Walk is on Us!

✓ GPS tracked walks
✓ Activity reports
✓ On-demand walkers
Book FREE Walk

Jump to Section

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.

Book First Walk Free!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Lupoid Onychodystrophy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Boo
Corgi
5 Years
Mild condition
2 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

scratching
Licking paws

[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?

Add a comment to Boo's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Duke
Rotweiller
5 Years
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Brittle nails
Very Loose Stool
Depressed
Limping

Medication Used

2 others that i cannot remember
doxycycline hyclate

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.

I have a German Shepherd, 7 years old, and we have been having odd issues with his nails splitting down the back for about 2 years - it took about a year to figure out that he has Lupus. His nails were all coming off by the time it was diagnosed, so the vet removed them all (quite easily, though he was sedated). There were new, very deformed nails growing underneath them. Prior to this, about 2, 3 years ago he was finally diagnosed with Endocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency, which causes loose (often cow-patty type stools), and requires us to add a digestive enzyme to his food with water 1/2 hour before he eats it, along with a probiotic. We did try the vitamin E, biotin, and Salmon oil supplements, but he had severe, uncontrollable diarrhea. Since stopping the Salmon oil it's better. He's got painful hips now, but only acts depressed and doesn't like to get up on my bed now - attributed to degeneration of his hind leg muscle since he's on steroids and they can deteriorate muscle tissue. Does it seem like your dog eats plenty, but doesn't gain wait? Has diarrhea you can't resolve? Does he desperately seek food? I'd ask the vet to check for Lupus (they can also have white/cracking noses if they do) and do an EPI test. If he's got EPI, he may go after kleenex, paper towel, and toilet paper. We always know my GSD needs more enzymes if he starts to eat these. By the way, after all the expensive, and vet-recommended foods, I joined an EPI forum and discovered that Purina One Lamb & Rice is really working for EPI dogs. It's been working for my dog for a couple of years now. Good luck with your baby!

Add a comment to Duke's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Leo
Border Collie
6 Years
Moderate condition
2 found helpful
Moderate condition

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.

Add a comment to Leo's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Jaco
Dachshund
2 Years
Mild condition
3 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Limping
Itchy
Bleeding

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 .

My 7 yr. old male neutered Catahoula was diagnosed with SLO today. My vet sent me to a specialist (dermatology) on 2nd visit. So glad your dog is better. What worked for you? diet change? thanks

My dog was diagnosed with SLO
Symmetric Lupoid Onychodystrophy three years ago. It took me 7 visits to 7 different vets before they discovered what was wrong. In the beginning it was trial and error, I couldn't find much to read about it. I felt like her vet and I were discovering what worked and what didn't together. I have it under control now. She occasionally has a relapse, and we deal with her condition as it happens.

Add a comment to Jaco's experience

Was this experience helpful?

tye
English Setter
3 Years
Serious condition
3 found helpful
Serious condition

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!

Add a comment to tye's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Jack
Westie
Ten Years
Serious condition
2 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Pain
Breaking nails
Licking feet

Medication Used

Vit b 3
Onychodrin

Can you tell me the recommended dose of essential fatty acids for an eleven kg. dog with Lupoid Onychodstrophy, my vet has him on Viacuten plus 12.5 mg epa per pump.
He is on vit b3 he can't stomach the doxy.
Thank you

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations

There is no set or agreed recommended dose for essential fatty acids and the dosage may get complicated with having to dose according to the eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) content in the product. I would recommend choosing a product (from a pet shop or Veterinary Practice) and following the directions on the container or speak with a Veterinarian or Vet Tech about the product before use. Some sources put dosage at 18mg of EPA per pound body weight and others in the thousands of milligrams per pound. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Our greyhound has significant issues with SLO. When he had to be sedated to treat actively bleed post dropping nail, vet "quicked" all others. We gave him pain and anti-inflammatories for a couple of days following. It worked wonderfully well! He did not drop any more nails for more than 1 yr.

Our Great Pyrenees Mix was just diagnosed with this. They had to remove 4 nails (2 were lose and bleeding and the others brittle. The vet suggested trimming all his nails back to quicks; under anesthesia of course. Horrifying thought. I hate to see our active boy in such discomfort. It’s heartbreaking!

Add a comment to Jack's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Echo
Alaskan Husky
8 Years
Critical condition
5 found helpful
Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Limping
Paw Swelling
Nails Growing Sideways
Nails Bleeding

Medication Used

none

My dog has lupoid Onychodystrophy, i've taken him to a few vets. He constantly licks his paws, his nails are growing in side ways and bleeding from constant breaking, he usually gets around wonderfully but has been in constant pain and now limping. I feel like im out of options do you have any suggestions?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
Lupoid onychodystrophy can be difficult to manage and can cause irritation for a dog; management includes removal of severely affected claws, vitamin E and omega-3 supplementation, immunosuppressive treatment, antibiotics (if infected) and regular trimming to keep any remain claws short. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.zoetis.ca/conditions/dogs/dermatology/lupoid-onychodystrophy.aspx

Judi H... What brand of collagen did you use? Some use knox gelatin but I may try the gmo grass fed version?

I should also note that this dosage is based on our German Shepherd's weight of 75 pounds.

Our German Shepherd was also diagnosed with SLO. Over the past 2 months she has lost all of her claws. The healing process is coming along nicely though as a result of the following protocol we follow daily under our veterinarians guidance. I hope that this helps someone else as much as it has our Abby.

Collagen Powder: 1 tbsp 2 times a day)
Niacinimide (Vitamin B)- 1 capsule 2 times a day.
Vitamin E- 1 capsule 2 times a day
Salmon oil in liquid form- 2 pumps a day. I found mine on Amazon
Synovi G4 chews- 2 per day

Add a comment to Echo's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Daganie
German Shepherd
5 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

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

Add a comment to Daganie's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Pixie
Yorkshire Terrier
10 Years
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

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.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
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.

Add a comment to Pixie's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Maximus
Mixed
4 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

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?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
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

Add a comment to Maximus's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Ginger
Labradoodle
2 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

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.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
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

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

Add a comment to Ginger's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Sassy
Mixed
10 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

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??

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
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.

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

Add a comment to Sassy's experience

Was this experience helpful?