Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute

Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute

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Uveodermatologic Syndrome

France-flagMay 2013


Uveodermatologic syndrome is an autoimmune disease that attacks melanocytes (pigment cells) impacting heavily pigmented areas of the eyes, skin, and mucus membranes.  In people it also affects hearing and the central nervous system, though this has not been reported in dogs.  It usually begins when the dog is a young adult.  The first thing the owner notices is vision loss or depigmentation of the nose, lips, eyelids, scrotum, and anus.  Loss of pigment can, in rare cases, involve the whole body.  The disease tends to have periods of remission followed by flare-up of the disease.  Vitiligo, loss of pigment in the skin and hair, can be secondary to this disease.

Uveodermatologic syndrome is diagnosed with a biopsy and is treated with anti-inflammatory drugs.  Steroids are contraindicated if the eyes are affected.  Prompt treatment is important to prevent permanent blindness.  Other body areas re-pigment with treatment.  Treatment will be required whenever the disease is active.

Uveodermatalogic syndrome is a type of autoimmune disease.  Autoimmune diseases are genetically predisposed; if a dog has the disease, it has the genes.  Dogs affected with this disease should not be bred.  Their near relatives should not be bred to mates with a family history of any autoimmune disease.