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Immunoglobulin (IGA) Deficiency in dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

We here at IndulgeYourPet would be willing to bet that the day you decided to adopt your dog, the last thing on your mind was…

“How susceptible is he or she to developing Immunoglobulin (IGA) deficiency?”

Because let’s face it, the day we decide to become a pet owner, all we can think about is how great it will be to have this new family member become a part of our home. And it is!

But the fact remains…

Over time, all living things (including ourselves) will one day have some medical issue that may require treatment. This is why we wanted to take a moment and discuss precisely what immunoglobulin (IGA) deficiency is so that you’ll have a better idea of what it is and what you should expect while helping your dog manage this condition. After all, it’s not like immunoglobulin (IGA) deficiency is discussed that often, right? So, without further ado, let’s dive right into the let’s

Immunoglobulin (IGA) Deficiency Defined

IGA Deficiency is a disorder or fault within a dog’s immune system that causes it to be frequently unwell and at greater risk of infections and other problems than a healthy dog would be. You see, Immunoglobulin is a normal protein that should be present in the body to help fight off diseases – so when your dog is lacking in it, it starts to cause all sorts of nasty little problems.

So if you start to notice that your furry friend has been:

  • “Sneezy” recently”
  • More “ired than usual,
  • Or that he keeps getting recurring infections.

It might be time to take him to the vet and express your concerns.

What causes IGA deficiency, and where does it come from?

IGA is a primary Immunodeficiency disorder that occurs when a dog’s ability to produce Immunoglobulin A starts misbehaving. Immunoglobulin A is a group of proteins the immune system uses to produce antibodies. Antibodies are essential to the body to fend off things like skin conditions, urinary tract infections, and the common cold.

Naturally, when your dog loses the ability to produce Immunoglobulin A, the result is that it becomes subject to frequent and reoccurring health problems that its immune system will be unable to fend off.

Bacteria and viruses…

You will have a better opportunity to enter your dog’s respiratory tract and under the skin simply because their immune response will be weakened or insufficient to deal with all foreign invaders they (and us) encounter daily.

Now there is also…

A second variant of this disorder characterizes an advanced stage of the disease, which can be defined through blood tests. This second variant, Selective Immunoglobulin Deficiency (SIGA), is detected through the absolute lack of any Immunoglobulin A in the blood. Either of these two is dangerous, and neither should be left unchecked.

Causes of IGA and SIGA

IGA and SIGA are both genetically inherited, meaning that dogs with a family history of the disease should be considered at risk of contracting it for themselves. The only known prevention for this disorder is to disallow the breeding of any afflicted gene pool, but within some breeds, that would leave us with very few healthy breeding pairs.

The good news is that although IGA is the most common immunodeficiency disorder in dogs and humans, it remains a relatively rare disease.

Symptoms of IGA include:

  • A running nose or severe levels of nasal discharge,
  • Folliculitis,
  • Skin conditions,
  • And exacerbated allergies.

Commonly Affected Breeds

Only a few breeds are known to inherit this disease, although many species routinely suffer from low levels of IGA in the blood as standard. Therefore, it is common for dogs to develop this disease as they age.

How is this IGA treated?

Firstly, your vet will examine and consult with what you know about your dog’s family history there; they’ll likely take tests reading your dog’s blood serumdog’sthe presence of plasma cells, IGG (immunoglobulin G), IGM (Immunoglobulin M), and IGA levels. This will give them an idea of how much of an immune response system your dog still has.


As treatment commences, your vet might want to prescribe an antibiotic; however, it is hit or miss with this condition as to whether this works or not. Your vet must treat individual needs as they present symptoms, so a range of medications may be employed at one point or another. It should be noted that once diagnosed, your pet will need an ongoing care plan that will include diet, exercise, and possibly oral supplements, all designed to maximize your dog’s natural prodog’son of IGA.

A good vet…

I will then work closely with you on this matter. Propionibacterium acne vaccines and Staphylococcal phage lysate might also be prescribed with the same intention. Typically, however, you and your vet must commit to monitoring your pet’s health and any new symptoms as they arise.


Many German Shepherd pups that suffer from this condition do not live to make it through ‘pup hood.’ Recurrent infections mean that they succumb early to the symptoms of their disease. An IGA-deficient dog needs lifelong care, so be prepared for that… and the veterinary bills that will only keep growing as time goes on.

Which brings us to…

We want to remind folks that we at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals. We are all a bunch of folks passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them. If you feel your pet may have immunoglobulin (IGA) deficiency  (or any other health issue), you will want to have them checked out by a vet ASAP!


An early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome” for your pet regardless of what is bothering them, but beyond that, diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle of medical costs! This is also why we here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now, will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?

No, probably not. But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover”r and”won’t”ch these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance”ce p” policies, we encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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