My wife used to joke about my 8 year old German Shepherd (« Toby ») as she stated that she wanted to go and get him a nose job. This past year, his nose started to get extremely dry and the skin actually started to peel. Being the bad pet owner that I am, I just thought it was due to the weather and kept on as normal. I figured if it was something that was hurting him he would show signs of pain or discomfort and I would get it checked out. My wife’s joke became common and we went on with our lives as normal.
A few months ago, I received a telephone call from my wife. She stated that Toby’s nose appeared to be extremely irritated, that it seemed to be causing him discomfort, and that she believed that he had Lupus. I was very attentive to her until she said « Lupus » at which point I began to laugh hysterically. Not that Lupus is funny as it is not. It is a serious autoimmune disease that inflicts approximately 5 million people worldwide. The reason for the laughter is because of HouseMD. This is one of our favorite television shows (and those of you who watch it will understand) and the most common diagnosis (when the doctors on the show cannot think of anything else) is Lupus. It has become a trade mark of the television show and a « House MD Lupus » montage can even be found on YouTube. I just naturally thought that my wife was joking. However, she wasn’t.
After I stopped laughing, my wife told me to look it up on Google. I type in the search « lupus in dogs » and went to « Google images » (do it yourself and see what I saw). The enormous amount of images that returned was mainly German Shepherds with noses exactly like Toby. My laughing quickly turned to concern as without an actual diagnosis, I was instantly convinced that my dog had Lupus.
There are many symptoms of Lupus in dogs; however, here are a few of the most common (obtained from Petwave.com).
* Depigmentation (paleness) of the skin on the bridge of the nose
* Skin redness (erythema), especially on the bridge of the nose, face and lips
* Skin scaling and flaking, especially on the bridge of the nose, face and lips
* Skin erosions (sores), especially on the bridge of the nose, face and lips
* Skin ulcerations, especially on the bridge of the nose, face and lips
* Skin crusting, especially on the bridge of the nose, face and lips
* Scarring, especially on the bridge of the nose, face and lips
* Pain at affected areas
* Itchiness (pruritis), may or may not be present
* Scratching at affected areas (variable)
* Secondary bacterial infections (pyoderma)
After spending approximately $400 at the veterinarian (OUCH!!!), I was given some medicine that I was to apply to his nose on a daily basis. This was done for the 1st couple of days however there did not appear to be an improvement. As we were told by the veterinarian that the dog would be fine as long as we kept him out of the sun, we believed that this was the only thing we could do as the medicine did not appear to be working.
A couple of weeks ago, my wife was in the bathroom with a tube of Aquaphor in her hand. The dog came in at that time and my wife decided to jokingly apply some to his nose. Hey, Aquaphor got us through the 1st 4 years of our daughter’s life so why wouldn’t it work on the dog’s nose? This was just about as funny as when she first told me he had Lupus. The next day, to both of our disbelief, the nose of the dog looked almost completely healed. It was black, wet, and there was little sign of peeling or irritation. This has now become a ritual that we do every couple of days and his nose looks normal.
Throughout this whole situation, I learned some important things. The first is that dogs can get Lupus. The second is that sometimes there are inexpensive ways to take care of expensive problems. And finally……always listen to your wife (she is right most of the time).