Your dachshund is a lively, clever dog that is predisposed to some health issues. Besides possible disk problems due to his long spine, he is also predisposed to vasculitis, or inflammation of the blood vessels. The usual result is dry, rough skin with possible sores.
Vasculitis is a general term used to refer to inflammation directed against vessel walls. It can occur as a primary disease but is more commonly a secondary reaction to other medical issues. It usually affects the skin or may affect multiple organ systems. Vasculitis is more often seen in dogs than cats. Acute vasculitis can affect the legs, feet, ears, lips, tails and scrotum causing ulcers and even blood clotting. Chronic vasculitis is less severe. Areas affected are the outer ears, face, feet and tips of the tail.
Your wiener dog may develop patchy alopecia or loss of hair, scaling and lesions. A common area affected in doxies is the outer area of the ears, or the pinnae. Restriction of the blood supply to this area can result in erythema or skin redness. The reddened areas form shallow erosions that result in scabs. Another symptom on the ears is hyperpigmentation or darker skin areas. Lesions can also occur on the face, the feet and the tip of the tail, as well as the palate and tongue—though scary-looking, these probably aren't painful to your dog. Beside skin symptoms, your pup may have a fever, lose weight and become lethargic.
Causes and Treatments
Causes of vasculitis are unknown, but it could be the result of bacterial or viral infections, rheumatoid arthritis, reactions to certain medications or SLE, systematic lupus erythematosus. In SLE, antibodies form against the body's own tissues. In other words, your pup's body attacks itself. Treatments for vasculitis include systemic cortisone such as Prednisolone, topical Tacrolimus (anti-inflammatory), Dapsone (antibacterial) and Pentoxifylline, which improves blood circulation. If vasculitis affects the ears, taping the ear flaps may be recommended to prevent shaking or scratching.
Because vasculitis is usually a secondary reaction to some underlying condition, your veterinarian must run a number of tests including blood tests and a skin biopsy if there are lesions. The reasons for the vasuclitis determine if symptoms clear up or if long-term maintenance is the prognosis.
Vasculitis can inflict your pup at any age and there is no sex predisposition. Examine your doxie during grooming sessions and pay special attention to the ears, face, feet and tip of the tail.
Pauline Gill is a retired teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching English to high school students. She holds a bachelor's degree in language arts and a Master of Education degree. Gill is also an award-winning fiction author.