Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute

Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute

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Uveodermatologic Syndrome


What is uveodermatologic syndrome?
Uveodermatologic syndrome is an autoimmune disease that attacks melanocytes (pigment cells) impacting heavily pigmented areas of the eyes, skin, and mucus membranes.  It usually begins when the dog is a young adult.  Vitiligo, loss of pigment in the skin and hair, can be secondary to this disease.

How do I know if my dog has uveodermatologic syndrome?

The first thing typically noticed is vision loss or depigmentation of the nose, lips, eyelids, scrotum, and anus.  Uveodermatologic syndrome is diagnosed with a biopsy.

What does having uveodermatologic syndrome mean for my dog?

The disease is not painful but the dog may become blind if not treated promptly.  Loss of pigment can, in rare cases, involve the whole body.  The disease tends to have periods of remission followed by flare-ups.  It is treated with anti-inflammatory drugs but steroids are contraindicated if the eyes are affected.  Skin and hair re-pigment with treatment.  Treatment will be required whenever the disease is active.

How common is uveodermatologic syndrome in Aussies?

It is extremely rare.  However, it is important to keep in mind that breeders should approach all chronic autoimmune disease as a single health concern; different types of autoimmune disease frequently occur in affected families.

Is uveodermatologic syndrome inherited in Aussies?

Yes.  All autoimmune diseases are genetically predisposed:  The dog must have the genes to get the disease, but not every dog with the genes will become ill.

What does uveodermatologic syndrome mean for my breeding program?

Breeders should approach each autoimmune disease as part of an overall health and breeding issue because different autoimmune diseases frequently occur in an affected family.  See Autoimmune Disease & Breeding.