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Pemphigus in Dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

Pemphigus in dogs is a relatively rare autoimmune disease.  It is a term used to encapsulate a variety or group of conditions, each with a different medical name. Canine Pemphigus Foliaceus is one of the most common of this rare bunch of variants and affects the dog’s skin tissues.

Most often characterized by…

Unexplained blisters or lesions on your pup’s skin are considered a hereditary condition, although not much else is known about the origins.  This unfortunate medical condition is regarded as one of those that are difficult to get rid of and exposes your poor pooch to endless amounts of itching and suffering; this is one of those diseases that emphasize the importance of good medical care for your dog.

Which is why…

We wanted to discuss precisely what Pemphigus is so that you, as the caring owner, know what to look for and get your pet to a trained professional at the first sign of trouble.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

What is Pemphigus, and what does it do?

As previously mentioned, there are four variants of this condition; each is considered a hepatocutaneous syndrome (a skin condition so deeply ingrained in your dog that it is doing periodic damage that will worsen if left untreated). Pemphigus Foliaceus comes on at around four years or older. Your dog will lose its appetite and present with sore skin around its muzzle and paws. It may appear in other areas, but these are the most common.

Pemphigus Erythematosus…

It is a variant of pemphigus that usually results from systemic Lupus Erythematosus crossing over with pemphigus foliaceus. All those vast words mean that your dog is more likely to get Pemphigus if they have Lupus.

Pemphigus Vulgaris…

It is the most common type of Pemphigus found in humans but rare for our furry friends. This variant occurs when the immune system starts attacking the foliaceous virus because the body has detected that it is painful. When this happens, the disease grows under the skin, producing excess cells to combat the infection. This is known by the scholarly as immune-mediated Thrombocytopenia to confuse us further.

The fourth and final variety…

Of this ugly and painful condition is Pemphigus vegetans. This is similar to the Vulagris type but only occurs in patches of lumps and doesn’t affect the whole body. It is also the most straightforward variant to wrap your head around.

Some may also…

Receive an additional diagnosis of Hailey-Hailey disease. This chronic variation of the above is considered passed down through the family. If your dog’s parents have any of the above, then there is a high chance your dog will have Hailey-Hailey disease, and you should also get them checked. It may also be dormant and skip a generation; preventing this disease means not breeding affected lines.  Furthermore, since these conditions are auto-immune diseases, they can be linked closely to other conditions, such as immune-mediated Polyarthritis, Sebaceous Adenitis, or autoimmune hemolytic anemia. All of these arise from the dog producing too many IGG Autoantibodies, resulting in the poor pooch coming out with blisters and bumps all over.

Plus remember…

With all types of this disease, the blistering and lesions occur as the dog produces antibodies to protect against infection in the dermo-epidermal junction. It is itchy and excruciating the more the dog scratches. You can seek treatment immediately so you can at least make your dog comfortable as it endures it.

Most Commonly Affected Breeds

Since this is a familial disease, it is assumed to be inherited. Since this is so, we can summarize the majority of the breeds that we know are affected. Please remember that mixed-breed dogs have no guarantees against the inheritance of Pemphigus.

Known breeds affected are:

Treatment Options

There aren’t any cures for this condition’s chronic type, mainly how it presents itself. You can manage the symptoms as best you can with ongoing medications and therapies, but unfortunately, your dog will likely suffer their whole life.

Your veterinary surgeon…

I will want to verify the diagnosis via a skin biopsy. Once done and the variant has been identified, specific treatment can begin. They are usually using immune-suppressing drugs for long periods. Topical creams and steroidal medications might also be employed to your dog’s benefit. However, since each variation responds differently to each medication or treatment, no official method of treating this condition exists. At most, your vet will want to tackle the itching and protect the lesions from further infection. Even then, this will do little against the future recurrence of chronic diseases.

This brings us to…

Were we like to remind folks that we here 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.  This is why if you feel like your pet may have pemphigus (or any other health issue), you’ll 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 in 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 for you 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 and how much 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 policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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