Pemphigus – The Disease that Affects Dogs’ Skin

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Pemphigus is a term used when two or more of auto immune disease affects the skin of dogs which is indicated by symptoms such as crusting and ulceration of the skin, formation of lesion-like fluid that fills cysts, pustules and sacs. Skin tissues belonging to the gums may be also affected in a few cases.

An auto immune disease is the condition in which the body produces antibodies without any entry of foreign substances. These auto antibodies fight against the cells of the body and start destroying it. This results in the diseased condition of the body which is caused by its own immune system. The rate of severity of the disease increases with the increase in production of auto antibodies and its deposition over the skin of the dogs. When these auto antibodies get deposited in between the space where cells break down the skin cells and gets separated, it results in most important sign of pemphigus known as acantholysis. Visit for more symptoms and cures for dog Pemphigus.

Pemphigus types

Pemphigus foliaceus, pemphigus erythematosus, pemphigus vulgaris, and pemphigus veterans are the four different types of pemphigus that affects dogs. Blisters form over healthy skin with the deposition of auto antibodies over the outermost layer of epidermis is noted in the first type pemphigus foliaceus. The second type of pemphigus which is erythematosus is uncommon and resembles pemphigus foliaceus and is less harmful. In the third type called pemphigus vulgaris, the auto antibodies gets deposited over the deeper layers of the skin and hence it is very severe and ulcerations are formed much deeper. Pemphigus veterans is not as severe as other three types and it occurs only in dogs. This type presents mild ulcerations.

Types and symptoms

Pemphigus commonly affects the head, gums, ears, lips and footpads and is later generalized all over the body. Foliaceus is majorly noted in the form of scales, pustules, ulcers, crust and redness which results in skin itching. You may also note overgrowth of the footpads and cracks over it. Generalized swelling including the swelling of lymph nodes may also be noted. Pain, fever, depression, lameness and Erythematosus skin changes are the common symptoms of pemphigus.

The other symptoms include

  • Bacterial infection as a result of ulcerations the same seen mainly in pemphigus foliaceus,
  • Colour loss in lips
  • Lesions on the areas of head, footpads and face.
  • Mouth ulcers may lead to anorexia
  • Deep shallow ulcers, skin crust and blisters.
  • Itching over the skin and pain commonly over the groin and underarm and doesn’t affect the mouth
  • bacterial infections that are secondary
  • Large patches of lesions that oozes are formed when many pustules join together
  • Causes
  • Over exposure to sunlight
  • Production of auto antibodies which destroy the healthy tissues and cause disease.
  • Hereditary factor is also common cause in some breed of dogs.


  • Physical examination
  • Complete blood count
  • Blood analysis
  • Urinalysis
  • Electrolyte analysis

Skin examination and biopsy taken from pustules and crust helps diagnose pemphigus. Pemphigus is confirmed with acantholytic cells and neutrophils. Bacterial culture is taken in case of secondary bacterial infections and antibiotics are provided accordingly based on the culture report.


  • Supportive care
  • Hospitalization
  • Steroid therapy – low fat diet maintained with corticosteroids and azathioprine given
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