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Discoid lupus erythematosus is an uncommon immune-mediated disease which primarily affects the skin, especially around the noseand nearly always the planum of the nose, the lips and eyes. It sometimes affects the ears in dogs, and often affects the ears in cats. Rarely  it affects the penile sheath or toes in dogs.


Discoid lupus erythematosus is thought to be an immune-mediated disease in which local skin lesions occur. the lesions may be aggravated by exposure to sunlight.

Breed Occurrence
This condition is reported to be more common in German Shepherd Dogs,  Rough Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs and Siberian Huskies.

It is very rare in cats.

The area of skin affected loses hair (alopecia), becomes depigmented , looks red raw (erythema) with erosions or ulcers and crusting. The lesions are not particularly itchy.

There are no complicating systemic effects in this disorder and the lesions are limited to the skin.


Diagnosis is confirmed on skin biopsy taken from affected areas.

Immunological tests such as immunofluorescence are not usually necessary, and antinuclear-antibody tests are usually negative. 


Systemic (tablet or injection) or topical (creams) corticosteroids (eg prednisolone) are used to induce and maintain remission, with long-term low-dose intermittent treatment being preferred.

Strategies to reduce exposure to the sun are also helpful - eg keep the animal indoors and protected from strong sunlight. Use sun-blocking creams. 

High doses of vitamin E (400-800 IU/day) have been reported to be of benefit in some cases., as has the use of niacinamide in combination with tetracycline (250mg of each three times daily by mouth for dogs under 10kg body weight, 500mg of each at the same rate for dogs over 10kg body weight


Good. this is not a life-threatening disorder.

Long term problems

Relapses are common in affected animals that respond to initial treatment, particularly following exposure to sunlight


Updated January 2016


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