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Pemphigus Foliaceus in Dogs

By: Dr. Mark Thompson

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Pemphigus foliaceus is a severe skin disease that is characterized by pustules and blisters that rupture, causing damage to the skin of the face, ears, feet and eventually the entire skin.

This disease results when the animal recognizes a specific component of his own skin (desmoglein I) as foreign and makes antibodies against that component. Desmoglein I is important in attaching skin cells to each other. Lack of this component causes the outer layer of the skin to split apart and fill with fluid and cells leading to a blister or pustule. This abnormality of the immune system is an example of an autoimmune disorder.

Middle aged to older dogs are more prone to this disease. It is seen more commonly in akitas, Doberman pinschers, chows, dachshunds, Newfoundlands, bearded collies and schipperkes, but can be seen in other breeds.

This disease has a severe health impact on the animal and can be fatal if not treated aggressively.

What to Watch For

  • Blisters and pustules that rupture and crust over beginning on the face and ears, and progress to the legs, feet, and eventually the entire body.

  • Fever

  • Refusal to eat

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