Pemphigus Foliaceus is the most common autoimmune skin condition in animals. PF is also seen in middle-aged and older dogs and cats. Pemphigus foliaceus commonly causes hair loss, scabs, and ulcers around the head, face, and ears.
The most common symptoms of Pemphigus Foliaceus include:
- Sometimes itchy
- Hair loss
- Lack of appetite
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Yellow-brown crust (scabs)
Pemphigus foliaceus typically develops due to unexplained causes, although some cases have been associated with drug reactions. It is also important to assess if any medications have been used in the months leading up to the cause of the lesions. Few forms of PF have also been associated with chronic skin disease, as some dogs with a long history of allergic skin disease have continued to develop PF. In dogs, Akitas and Chow chows tend to be especially at risk of this disease, indicating that genetics may also have a role to play.
Pemphigus diseases are diagnosed by a combination of dermatological testing: medical history, visual appearance of the lesions, location of the lesions, microscopic examination (cytology) of the material obtained from the lesions. Your vet may also prescribe the VetScan FLEX4 Rapid Test to rule out other diseases that can cause PF-like lesions. A conclusive diagnosis of PF includes the examination of high-quality skin biopsy specimens by a veterinary pathologist specialized in skin disorders.
Pemphigus is a disease of the autoimmune. Treatment also involves the suppression of the immune system. Your pet will be treated with corticosteroids (such as prednisone) or other immunosuppressive medications such as azathioprine, chlorambucil, and cyclosporine.
Patients can require long-term, often permanent, care to manage the symptoms of pemphigus. In addition, regular re-examination would be required to monitor the reaction to the treatment and also to ensure that the patient does not experience harmful side effects from the drug.
Give all of the medications as guided. Follow-up sessions with your veterinarian are crucial in allowing medication dose changes to optimize effectiveness and mitigate side effects.
There is no known way to prevent this disease from developing.