Weak Immune System Due to Hereditary Disorder Average Cost

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What is Weak Immune System Due to Hereditary Disorder?

Recurrent or persistent infections can indicate an immunodeficiency disorder, especially in young animals. Most cases of immunodeficiency are related to a secondary disorder, such as a tumor on the thyroid or an allergic reaction to something in the environment. Primary immunodeficiencies are disorders that are genetic in nature and often related to the breed of the animal. This deficiency in the immune system leaves the affected animal more open to contracting communicable diseases and less able to rid their body of them once they are acquired. There is no consistently effective treatment for these disorders in canines and they often prove fatal very early in life.

Primary immunodeficiency disorders are genetically transmitted dysfunctions in the immune system that weaken the dog’s natural ability to fight infections. This disorder is often fatal before the canine reaches maturity.

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Symptoms of Weak Immune System Due to Hereditary Disorder in Dogs

The most significant symptom of a weakened immune system is the development of secondary infections. There are many different ways that an immune system can be undermined by hereditary factors. Immunodeficient animals may acquire multiple diseases at the same time. Symptoms that are common across most immune deficient canines can include: 

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lymphadenopathy
  • Recurrent infection
  • Severe reactions to infection
  • Skin lesions
  • Weight loss


Canine leukocyte adhesion deficiency

  • This is an autosomal recessive mutation that can affect Irish Setters and Irish Red and White Setters
  • The white blood cells in affected dogs are unable to adhere to invading cells, and therefore become unable fight off infections
  • This form of immunodeficiency is usually fatal before the canine reaches 6 months of age

Immunoglobulin Deficiency

  • This disease is characterized by the failure of the body to produce immunoglobulins
  • This particular disorder is often hereditary, but can also be a secondary form of immunodeficiency when triggered by disease or inadequate maternal antibodies in the first several days of life

Selective Immunodeficiencies

  • Some breeds have a predisposition to acquiring specific bacterial, viral and fungal infections
  • Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) - This form of immunodeficiency involves a defect in antibody production and cell-mediated immunity characterized by a lack of either T or B cells
  • This can be either an X-chromosome linked disorder similar to the human form of the condition or an autosomal recessive form that more closely resembles the equine version of the disease
  • Both are often fatal within the first 4 months of age for canines

Causes of Weak Immune System Due to Hereditary Disorder in Dogs

The causes of these inherited diseases are passed down from parents to offspring. There is a strong breed related component to most of these disorders.

  • Canine Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency (Irish Red and White Setter, Irish Setter)
  • Immunoglobulin Deficiency (Beagle, Chinese Shar-Pei, German Shepherd
  • Selective Immunodeficiencies - some breeds have a genetic predisposition for susceptibility to a specific disease 
  • For example Rottweilers are prone to canine Parvovirus
  • Long-nosed breeds (German Shepherd and Collies)  are prone to aspergillosis in the nasal passages and systemic aspergillosis
  • Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) is predisposed in the Basset Hound, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Jack Russell, Rottweiler, and Toy Poodle

Diagnosis of Weak Immune System Due to Hereditary Disorder in Dogs

Primary hereditary immunodeficiency disorders are uncommon in dogs. Dogs that present with recurrent and persistent infections usually have immune systems that have been suppressed due to a secondary cause such as tumors, severe viral infections such as distemper, or as a side effect from radiation or chemotherapy. The first thing your veterinarian is going to want is a medical history for your dog to determine how often the patient is getting ill, and how long each illness lasts. If a hereditary immunodeficiency is suspected blood tests will be run to determine the amount and efficiency of the immune cells in the body. Tests will also be run to determine if the levels of thyroid hormone are adequate as the thyroid is often involved with immune disorders. Due to the speedy lethality of some of these disorders, the diagnosis is sometimes delayed until the necropsy is completed. There are genetic tests available for some of these disorders which can give a definitive diagnosis. If your pet is diagnosed with a genetically induced immunodeficiency tests should also be run on siblings. It is particularly important to test the close female relatives in disorders that are X-linked recessive traits. Female dogs who have these genetic anomalies may never develop the disorder, but they are likely to pass it to their offspring and should not be bred.

Treatment of Weak Immune System Due to Hereditary Disorder in Dogs

In most primary disorders relating to the immune system, there is no real treatment at this time. Supportive therapy may be attempted with antibiotics or antifungals to treat the acquired infection but it often proves to be resistant to treatment. In humans with these disorders bone marrow transplant is the treatment of choice. This is a complicated process and is often not technically feasible for canines at this time. In most cases, genetically related immune deficiencies are fatal before the dog reaches maturity. Treatment, therefore, focuses on reducing the effect of symptoms from secondary infections and attempting to prevent any further infections. Due to the immunocompromised animal’s susceptibility to contagions, this can prove a daunting task and success is rare. A colony of dogs affected by the X chromosome linked SCID has been established to further research in both the disease itself and in more effective treatments for the disorder, particularly better methods of bone marrow transplant and gene therapies. These findings may help treat cases of X-SCID more effectively for canines and for humans in the future.

Recovery of Weak Immune System Due to Hereditary Disorder in Dogs

These disorders are most often fatal quite early in life, generally before the pups reach 6 months of age. A common cause of death in puppies with impaired immune systems are the vaccinations designed to protect them, particularly the canine distemper vaccination. Their immune systems are often inadequate to fight off the modified live version of the vaccination. As there are fewer reports of transient adverse responses in canines treated with the modified live vaccination it is often recommended over the killed virus. Those dogs that survive the modified live vaccinations or are given the killed version of their vaccines are still predisposed to infection, particularly bacterial, and have difficulty recovering from any contagion that they do acquire. Testing and genetic counseling are the most practical approaches to reducing the number of animals affected by these disorders.

Weak Immune System Due to Hereditary Disorder Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Border Collie
23 Months
Serious condition
1 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss
Circle lesion

My Border Collie x Australian Cattle dog has had ringworm for the past 2-3 months. It started as a small lesion on her stomach that went away with the use of ointment from the vet.

It came back a few weeks later and was all over her stomach, pretty much everywhere there wasn't fur was covered in it. We put her on 2 weeks of antibiotics and anti-fungal tablets, both twice a day.

She is still on the anti-fungal tablets and hasn't stopped taking them since she was first put on them. However, about a week after stopping the antibiotics the ringworm has come back. Her stomach is clear but her entire back, lower part of legs and now ever her nose is covered in big flakey lesions.

We have been putting the ointment on as many as we can find twice daily and she's still taking anti-fungal tablets but it just keeps spreading.

During this time she has also been having showers every 2 days with an anti-fungal shampoo, we vacuum the house daily and keep it as clean as possible.

I don't know what to do at this point, its getting really pricey with all the medication but mostly I just feel sad for her and miss being able to play and cuddle her properly as she's normally very close to us.


Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
If Millie isn’t improving with treatment, it would be good at this point (before it gets any worse) to have a sample taken for examination to identify any bacterial or fungal infection and to determine the medication it is sensitive to. Apart from continuing the treatment already prescribed, there isn’t much else I can recommend. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Golden Retriever
6 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms


I have a 6 mos. old Golden Retriever. She has been getting re-occuring fevers. About every 3-4 weeks. No other symptoms other than not drinking enough water we noticed. However, she is not dehydrated per our Vet. Each time (we are at 6 now), being put on IV fluids, antibiotics, steriods. She recovers fast. After about 3 to 4 weeks, she will get another high fever and it jumps to 104 or 105 in one day. We are at a loss on what could be causing this. we cook all her food. She isn't around anyone or anything that could be toxic. Have no information about genetics on the parents as the seller only says they have never had any problems. Thoughts?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
There are many causes for fever which may include infection (most common), inflammation, allergies (not so common), some cancers (unlikely at this age), idiopathic (fever of unknown origin - we don’t know why), some poisoning among other causes. I cannot think of a specific cause for fever, especially without examining Samantha first; it may be worth visiting a Specialist and have a blood test done to look at blood counts. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Thank you for your response. We have had all the test done and then some. We tested for Lyme disease and a multitude of others. All negative. I know there is the FUO but I just can't help thinking there is something we are missing. A fever with no other symptoms coming on every 4-5 weeks indicates something is not clearing up. I'm so worried about the long term effects of these fevers on her body. I love my vet and he has seemed to be wanting to find answers too, but this last trip, yesterday, he seemed to be out of answers and didn't offer a referral. Just let's see how it goes. I will research and see if I can find a specialist in my area to consult with for a second opinion. Thank you again.

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German Shepherd
1 Year
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

.........................................................................gud day.....is their a possibility that even if i treated my dogs mange,there will still inherit in her offspring

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
It is still possible for pups to pick up certain parasites (usually Demodex) after whelping due to a pups poorly developed immune system; also if mites are still in the environment they may infest the pups as well. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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