by Carole Machery DVM
Imagine one day your Greyhound limps a bit and you look at his paw to find that an entire toe nail is missing. Your first thought is likely that he ran too hard and caught it, and in some cases, that really is all that happened. Sometimes, though, if you look at the remaining nails, you’ll discover a bigger problem. There may be several toe nails that seem abnormal – loose, tender, draining.
SLO is thought to be an autoimmune disease that targets the toe nails. The hallmark of autoimmune diseases is that the body mistakenly forms antibodies against part of itself. If it’s antibodies against our our red blood cells then we destroy our own blood and become anemic. If it’s antibodies against our joints then we become arthritic. In the case of symmetrical lupoid onychodystrophy, Greyhounds form antibodies against their toe nails, and reject them.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS?
Click on photo for enlargement
While the only 100% accurate way to diagnose this problem is by biopsy (and that means amputating the end of the toe, called “P3”), this problem in a Greyhound is one that experienced veterinarians will feel comfortable making a diagnosis based on the appearance of the feet. Amputation of the tip of a toe is disfiguring, expensive, and unnecessary.
This condition can be confused with simple bacterial infection and fungal infections, and valuable time may be lost with antibiotics, foot soaks, and other medications that don’t target the underlying immune nature to the problem.
MEDICATIONS (any doses mentioned here are for greyhounds – other breeds need their own levels)
A WORD ABOUT DIET
Most dermatologists agree that one of the possible triggers for this disease is food related. Thus, treating your SLO dog as a severe food allergy patient might be of some benefit. This involves very strict dietary restrictions, and the details should be discussed with your vet. Foods that have proven useful include Eukanuba Veterinary Diet (Response FP – a fish based food), IVD foods, Hill’s ZD, and other truly hypoallergenic foods.
This disease tends to remain a life-long problem with afflicted dogs, but it is also one that can almost always be controlled with medication. With luck, over 6-8 months, new nails will regrow and your hound will be pain-free.
There is a very good Yahoo support board for SLO dogs of all breeds.
This page last updated 12/09/2007