What is Uveo-Dermatological Syndrome?
It is a rare condition of the eyes and skin that most closely resembles an autoimmue disease in humans called Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada Syndrome (VKH Syndrome). The disorder starts with a severe inflammation of the white tissue surrounding the eye (conjunctiva) followed by inflammation inside the globe causing high pressure (glaucoma), pain and in some cases detachment of the retina and blindness. There can be loss of pigmentation (depigmentation) and hair (alopecia) around the eyes and muzzle with crusty lesion sforming around the lips and anus (muco-cutaneous junctions). The severity of disease can vary greatly with Akitas usually showing with the worst clinical signs.
How does my dog get Uveo-Dermatological Syndrome?
Uveo-Dermatological Syndrome is thought to be an autoimmune disease which has breed predilection but has not been shown to be genetic. Its cause is unknown. An autoimmune disease is one in which the dogs immune system starts to react against the pigment cells (melanocytes) as though they were foreign and attepts to erridicate them like it would a bacteria or virus.
How do I know if my dog has Uveo-Dermatological Syndrome?
In most susceptible breeds the disease is seen in early adulthood but can vary. It starts with a reddening of the eye (conjunctivitis) and excessive blinking especially around light. In dogs the disorder usually involves the eyes first and then the skin but hair loss around the nares , eyes of crusty lesions around the lips should be examined by your veterinarian.
What can I do about Uveo-Dermatological Syndrome?
There is no cure for Uveo-Dermatological Syndrome however depending on the severity of the lesions there are management options. Treating of the eye inflammation oinvloves the use of steroids to reduce inflammation whih is the cause of the glaucoma and eventual blindness. The disease can be very resistant to treatment. New treatments have been used to treat the hair loss around the face . Although treatments can be tried there is no cure and blindness is a frequent sequelle.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my dog from getting Uveo-Dermatological Syndrome?
Since the exact nature of this diease is not understood there is little einformation as to whether it is a gentic disease which could be controlled with appropriate breeding.
Are there certain breeds that get Uveo-Dermatological Syndrome more often?
This disorder is uncommon to rare but has been reported in the Akita, Siberian Husky, Samoyeed, Old English Sheepdog, Australian Shepard and the Shetland Sheepdog.