Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy “SLO”



The information on this page is for educational purposes only and should never  

be used as a substitute for seeing your own veterinarian, with your pet, for a

complete examination and individually prescribed treatment.

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.


  • multiple nail loss
  • licking the nails
  • visible oozing around the base of the nail
  • separation of the nail from the quick
  • limping
  • infection
  • odor

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.


  • this must be treated as an immune disorder, not a simple infection
  • loose and painful nails should be removed – usually under anesthesia
  • there is often a 6-10 week lag time to see a good response to treatment
  • treatment must extend over a period of at least many months, and in many cases, years
  • relapses are common
  • medications may need to be adjusted based on response to treatment – there is no single successful protocol
  • SEE YOUR VETERINARIAN but go in with information about the disease and treatment.  This is not a common diagnosis and many vets might not be familiar with it.

MEDICATIONS (any doses mentioned here are for greyhounds – other breeds need their own levels)

  • in all cases, essential fatty acids should be started immediately but because of the nature of the disease, it may be 6 weeks or longer to see improvement.  The recommended dose is 180 mg eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) per 10 pounds.  Sources of EPA are:
    • The 1000 mg fish oil capsules contain 180 mg EPA, so a 60 pound Greyhound should get 6 fish oil capsules a day, a 70 pound Greyhound should get 7.  These are readily available over-the-counter.
    • 3V HP caps
    • Derm Caps ES


  • Vitamin E 400 IU every 12 hrs
  • if the problem is severe or advanced at diagnosis,  the following medications are also used:
  • tetracycline and niacinamide (500 mg each every 8 hours for an average sized Greyhound)
  • pentoxiphylline (Trental) – some vets prefer this over the tetracycline/niacinamide combination
  • prednisone and azathioprine should be avoided if possible, but in resistant or very aggressive onset cases, prednisone can be dosed in greyhounds  at 15 mg total dose per day, and then weaned down as soon as possible.
  • Pain medication – this is a very painful condition and there can be some relief with NSAID’s like Rimadyl, Deramaxx, etc.


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.

Consider joining.

This page last updated 12/09/2007



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