Lupus comes in several forms, with discoid and erythematosus being the most common in dogs. The less serious is discoid lupus, a skin disease that causes hair loss and crusty, irritated areas of skin, usually on the face and head. Discoid lupus can advance to the more serious systemic form, lupus erythematosus Dogs with systemic lupus can suffer a variety of problems. Other autoimmune diseases, including hemolytic anemia and thrombocytopenia can be secondary to systemic lupus. In serious cases the disease can prove fatal. Lupus can be diagnosed with a biopsy but there is no screening test that will reveal carriers or affected animals that have yet to become symptomatic.
Lupus is a type of autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are genetically predisposed; if a dog has the disease, it has the genes. Dogs affected with lupus should not be bred. Their near relatives should not be bred to mates with a family history of any autoimmune disease.