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autoimmune diseases in dogs?

I haven't posted on here in a long, long time but I'm hoping some of you can help me. My dog Max has been sick since January (~10yo mix breed 85lbs). The short story--started with weak hindquarter, skin issues (dry, flaky, crusty, bumps), ATE part of our Weber grill, starting vomiting non stop bile and blood for months, lost over 20lbs--I could go on and on. After spending thousands, the diagnosis was cancer of the lining of the stomach(without confirmation). He was put on Prednisone and Reglan in March. Since March, he gained all of the weight back (plus 5lbs!), stopped vomiting, went off reglan and was all the way down to 2.5mg of pred a day.

Over the last month, his skin issue came back (dandruff, flaking, crusts, etc). Our vet now has him on 5mg of pred every other day and an antibiotic. She also said it appears he does not have cancer (specialist gave us that dx) Max is currently on week 3 of antibiotics. His skin is a little better but his leg and stomach still look bad--flaky/crusts.

He has had all normal bloodwork--even when he was vomiting non stop. Ultra sound of his abdomen showed no issue at all--liver, stomach, gallbladder. He did appear to have a few bladder stones but nothing major. His urine looked fine---slightly high wbc but on the high end of normal.  All XRays were clear--rechecked to make sure he passed all of the grill. He also tested negative for Addisons. Our vet (and a few others at the specialty hospital) are stumped. I'm sure I am forgetting things along the way here but my question for you is--could this be an autoimmune issue we are all overlooking? Does anything sound familiar to you?

Current symptoms-just the skin issue. Besides that he is eating, pooping normally, no excessive thrust. He really seems happy and back to his normal self besides this skin stuff.

He has been eating Solid Gold for years so I really don't think any of this is food related. WHen he got really sick, he wouldn't eat any dog food. I was cooking all of his meals with limited ingredients. I just want to figure out what is causing all of this. I don't want to give up!

 

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Re: autoimmune diseases in dogs?

  • Maybe it's even an allergy or on the off chance, he's sensitive to something he is being exposed to.

    Is it possible for a dog to have psoriasis or eczema?
  • image TarponMonoxide:
    Maybe it's even an allergy or on the off chance, he's sensitive to something he is being exposed to.

    Is it possible for a dog to have psoriasis or eczema?

    I really don't think it's an allergy. The vet said it is a skin infection caused by something....and this is pretty much how everything started back in January. What threw everyone off was him eating the grill (he was never, ever a chewer or one to get into garbage, etc). The weakness in his back legs is what's making me think it's something else. I mean, yes. This could be arthritis/old age too but I really do believe all of his symptoms and issues since January are connected. 

    Cushings is something that has come to my mind a few times. I need to ask my vet if the test they did for Addisons would have show if it could have possibly been Cushings. I don't know. I'm so over all of this testing with no answers.

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  • Is the skin issue localized? or all over?  in haired and hairless areas?

     

    What kind of coat? coloration does your pup have? 

    image
    DD born 1.25.15

  • image aggiebug:

    Is the skin issue localized? or all over?  in haired and hairless areas? All over except on his face right now (back in Jan, it was also on his head/ears). It is on his legs, back, stomach, chest. It has caused his hair to fall out and his back is very, very thin. He use to have a huge bushy tail. He just has a few random hairs left on it :( Our vet just looked at him, used a comb, and said it was definitely a skin infection. She did not do a biopsy.

    What kind of coat? coloration does your pup have? The best was to describe him is some type of shepherd mix. Black/tan fine hair. His belly is white/black. The belly was shaved to perform the ultra sound. I did notice pink and darkish pigmentation in random spots but assumed that was just how he was born.

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  • I would highly recommend going and seeing a dermatologist.  Not an internal med specialist which it sounds like you saw last time.  

     

    It does sound sort of like Cushings disease but typically a test for Addisons will strongly hint at Cushings since they are basically the opposite problem.   Cushings is also an increase of steroid productions so giving prednisone would only make the problem worse not better.   

    image
    DD born 1.25.15

  • image aggiebug:

    I would highly recommend going and seeing a dermatologist.  Not an internal med specialist which it sounds like you saw last time.  

     

    It does sound sort of like Cushings disease but typically a test for Addisons will strongly hint at Cushings since they are basically the opposite problem.   Cushings is also an increase of steroid productions so giving prednisone would only make the problem worse not better.   

    Thanks. Based on what you just said, I don't think it is Cushings. Prednisone has helped a ton. If anything the skin issue came back when we were weaning him. He was on 40mg a day for almost two months. It started coming back when we had him weaned down if that is at all related.

    Trying to figure out what is wrong with our dog has consumed me. I think about it all of the time. I just wish someone could figure it out. It's frustrating that testing on dogs is nothing like testing on humans. Even at his worst with vomiting blood, all of his labs were perfect :(

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  • Sounds like it might be inflammatory bowel disease? This is primarily a food allergy/chrons disease type of autoimmune disease, but dogs with it can also have dry flakey skin or appear to have skin allergies. My old saint bernard had this, no way to diagnose it except for x-rays that showed inflamed intestines. She was on a regime of predisone for most of her life and a special diet. She also went on to develop other auto-immune disorders.

     I spent many nights with her while she vomitted and had diarrhea everywhere. Stress made her symptoms worse and it was very hard to keep weight on her. Once I was able to wean her off steroids for a brief period of time and I was giving her Tylan powder in some wet food. That helped regulate her gut.

    ETA - Hugs. I know where you are and it's very difficult not to know what is wrong with your dog and feel helpless. We went through a years worth of testing before we got on the right medicine and food routine that worked for her.

  • image doglove:

    Sounds like it might be inflammatory bowel disease? This is primarily a food allergy/chrons disease type of autoimmune disease, but dogs with it can also have dry flakey skin or appear to have skin allergies. My old saint bernard had this, no way to diagnose it except for x-rays that showed inflamed intestines. She was on a regime of predisone for most of her life and a special diet. She also went on to develop other auto-immune disorders.

     I spent many nights with her while she vomitted and had diarrhea everywhere. Stress made her symptoms worse and it was very hard to keep weight on her. Once I was able to wean her off steroids for a brief period of time and I was giving her Tylan powder in some wet food. That helped regulate her gut.

    ETA - Hugs. I know where you are and it's very difficult not to know what is wrong with your dog and feel helpless. We went through a years worth of testing before we got on the right medicine and food routine that worked for her.

     

    IBD was brought up in the beginning but then they switched the dx quickly to cancer. Just about every vet we saw said stomach cancer. His intestines looked ok from what I was told. I don't know. Our vet did say this is not stomach cancer. She said if it was he woud not have put back on all of his weight and probably wouldn't be here with us now. It was been almost 9 months since we started noticing symptoms!

    I'm currently researching doggie derms in our area. That's probably the next stop in this journey.  

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  • image doglove:

    Sounds like it might be inflammatory bowel disease? This is primarily a food allergy/chrons disease type of autoimmune disease, but dogs with it can also have dry flakey skin or appear to have skin allergies. My old saint bernard had this, no way to diagnose it except for x-rays that showed inflamed intestines. She was on a regime of predisone for most of her life and a special diet. She also went on to develop other auto-immune disorders.

     I spent many nights with her while she vomitted and had diarrhea everywhere. Stress made her symptoms worse and it was very hard to keep weight on her. Once I was able to wean her off steroids for a brief period of time and I was giving her Tylan powder in some wet food. That helped regulate her gut.

    ETA - Hugs. I know where you are and it's very difficult not to know what is wrong with your dog and feel helpless. We went through a years worth of testing before we got on the right medicine and food routine that worked for her.

     

    actually the only way to truly diagnose it is with a biopsy of the intestinal lining.  xrays really are not a good diagnostic tool for this disease in my experience.  And even then many drs do not consider this to be entirely accurate.    That and the skin component is quite unusual and I would expect to GI symptoms when skin issues are present.

    I say this only so the OP knows that its not that easy to diagnose and there are many reasons I think your pup was not diagnosed with IBD.   

    image
    DD born 1.25.15

  • image aggiebug:
    image doglove:

    Sounds like it might be inflammatory bowel disease? This is primarily a food allergy/chrons disease type of autoimmune disease, but dogs with it can also have dry flakey skin or appear to have skin allergies. My old saint bernard had this, no way to diagnose it except for x-rays that showed inflamed intestines. She was on a regime of predisone for most of her life and a special diet. She also went on to develop other auto-immune disorders.

     I spent many nights with her while she vomitted and had diarrhea everywhere. Stress made her symptoms worse and it was very hard to keep weight on her. Once I was able to wean her off steroids for a brief period of time and I was giving her Tylan powder in some wet food. That helped regulate her gut.

    ETA - Hugs. I know where you are and it's very difficult not to know what is wrong with your dog and feel helpless. We went through a years worth of testing before we got on the right medicine and food routine that worked for her.

     

    actually the only way to truly diagnose it is with a biopsy of the intestinal lining.  xrays really are not a good diagnostic tool for this disease in my experience.  And even then many drs do not consider this to be entirely accurate.    That and the skin component is quite unusual and I would expect to GI symptoms when skin issues are present.

    I say this only so the OP knows that its not that easy to diagnose and there are many reasons I think your pup was not diagnosed with IBD.   

    The specialist was supposed to do an endoscopy when they had him knocked out to do the ultra sound and changed her mind at the last minute. Honestly, I wish we just brought him back in to have it done! It could have possibly answered so many questions--cancer, bleed/irritation from eating the grill, etc. From what we were told it could have left us with zero answers and money just wasted and still a cancer diagnosis.

    I'm looking at him right now, and Max is just such a happy guy! I don't want this skin issue to progress into what happened in January. It was absolutely horrible. Who knows. Maybe this skin issue is just that. A skin issue and none of this is related. Thank you all for taking the time to respond. 

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  • I can totally understand your frustration. that is why I recommended a dermatologist they specialize in skin issues even if it is a secondary skin issue they should be able to help. good luck and I hope it doesn't get worse
    image
    DD born 1.25.15

  • image aggiebug:
    I can totally understand your frustration. that is why I recommended a dermatologist they specialize in skin issues even if it is a secondary skin issue they should be able to help. good luck and I hope it doesn't get worse

    Thank you again for your help. I found a dermatologist about an hour from our house. The only catch is he needs to be off prednisone for a week before she will evaluate (according to her website). I have a call in to our normal vet this morning to see what  her take is on weaning Max completely off of prednisone and....GI issues started again. I caught Max "chomping" on his food this morning. Classic sign his stomach is hurting....

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  • Yes - sorry. It has been many years, but we did go through the endoscopy procedure for a proper diagnosis.
  • Not sure if I'll be much help, however two things came to mind for me, either a food allergy, or thyroid disease.

    Just speaking about myself, I am hypothyroid.  When i was first diagnosed,  or when my levels are off, I have dry brittle hair, super dry flaky skin, I put on weight like crazy and just want to eat,  and am a long time sufferer of kidney stones.

    My dog was also hypothyroid, and had skin allergies.  She saw a dermatogist who eventually prescribed  a drug called Atopica.  It worked wonders for her.  

    I think your dogs problem may be thyroid related however, a simple blood test checking the TSH and T3 levels will reveal that.

    Good luck I know how frustrating it is!!

    And sorry if I repeated anything, I didn't read the responses. 

     

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  • Totally yes to the thyroid thing, my dog had these symptoms (skin wise anyways) and he had an underactive thyroid, he is also allergic to grass.

    Yes, I said it, grass. Poor dog.

    We had to change foods, do to his being too high in crap. (don't believe the big dog brand names). Most are not great AT ALL. And he would get random food from the table, raw veggies, watermelon etc. But he can no longer have anything human food wise (the way it was intended, i know) And it has helped a bit.

    Sorry this has been so crazy for you!

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