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Symptoms of Lupus

Species: Dog
Breed: Jack Russell
Age: 5-8 years
Help! owners have spent $1100 on test and everything comes back normal but Archie is slowly slipping away... Dog resides in Santa Barbara, CA
Archie can hardly make it down the back porch, sudden onset of snoring a couple of months ago Then he seemed to have a sore throat He used to howl whenever he heard sirens, but now he tries and it is the most awful sound. Lameness, Stiffness, Trembling, No appetite (lost 4 lbs) Depression, Hair loss resulting in lesions, Swollen puffy ear flaps, No energy - toally out of character for any JRT especially Archie He has NO signs of diarrhea, coughing, or vomiting. Has had a blood panel done that shows nothing out of whack except a slight indication of Rocky Mt. Spotted fever and treated with antibiotics with no results. Xrays show nothing. Arch was in Wyoming in August and has been in contact with ticks at home due to his lifestyle of hiking. Current vet has contacted "tick" specialists and no answers. Any ideas???

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I'm so sorry to hear that Archie is going through this. This will be a hard one for me to answer without seeing Archie and all of his test results, but I can give you some of my thoughts.

It certainly does sound like it could be some type of tick borne disease. You mentioned he had a touch of Rockey Mt. Spotted fever. While most animals with this condition will improve with antibiotics, there are some animals who never do improve. Hopefully this is not the case with Archie.

Has he had any skin biopsies done? Biopsies of the affected areas of skin may help you find out what the problem is. I am wondering about the possibility of an auto-immune condition such as pemphigus or lupus. These diseases are able to be managed with steroids (i.e. prednisone) but not cured. Lupus can be diagnosed with a blood test to measure ANA levels.

There is more information on lupus at:

I am assuming he has been tested for lyme disease?

What antibiotic was he on? Has he been on doxycycline? This is usually the treatment of choice if we are suspecting a tick condition.

Another possible test that could help get a diagnosis is to do joint taps. This is where a small amount of fluid is removed via needle from his joints and sent to the pathologist to look for evidence of disease. There is a good chance that this can give you a diagnosis as well.

I wish I could tell you more! Feel free to tell me more about what medications Archie has been on and any other information you can give and perhaps I can see if I can be of any more help.

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thank you so much for your help! I wanted to follow up with what we found out about Archie! Read below and thanks again!

Hi Tina
I knew this internist would find out what was up.
She ran an ANA titer test & sure enough, he has Canine Lupus. Although he has made a turnaround, he will get better with upping the Prednisone and getting on an
immuniosuppressant because the body is attacking itself.
He was almost a gonner & it is so good to see him get better. Still no appetite, but we make him special chicken & meat dishes he will eat, but only about 1/2 cup where he gobbles one cup normally. Doc says this will change once we get him on the drugs. Also his old playfull personality will return.
So we will be getting blood tests every 2wks & joint fluid sample in one mo.
Finally an answer, when it was so mysterious & horribly helpless to watch him go downhill & not have any idea what was the problem.
Your Friends
John & Genny

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Wow, thanks for the update! I'm so glad Archie has a diagnosis and that he is feeling better.

I have never personally diagnosed lupus - it is quite rare.

Let me know if I can help out at all in the future!
Dr. Marie

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.