Canine Immune System Diseases and Disorders

Animals have evolved a sophisticated defence system that produces glycoproteins called immunoglobulins or antibodies in response to antigens on the surface of organisms (e.g. bacteria, viruses) or other substances (e.g. toxins) that gain access to the body. The antibodies chemically bind with the antigens - an initial step in the process to remove them from the body. Under normal circumstances the body's immune system recognises tissues and cells that are part of itself, and the immune system will only produce antibodies against foreign cells. However, sometimes the controlling mechanisms fail and the immune system does produce antibodies which attack the animal's own body tissues. These are called autoantibodies and the disease that results is called an autoimmune disease.

Clinical and laboratory abnormalities that characterize idiopathic immune‐mediated diseases can be associated with canine vector‐borne disease (CVBD). In addition, CVBD agents might cause immune‐mediated disease. Thus, it is important to rule out CVBD before declaring immune‐mediated disease idiopathic. Despite recent improvements in serological and molecular‐based testing, ruling out CVBD can be challenging. Knowledge of regional CVBD prevalence helps clinicians determine which organisms to include in testing.1

Dog Diseases & Symptoms

Canine Familial Dermatomyositis


Autoimmune Thrombocytopenic Purpura

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)


  1. Prevalence of Vector‐Borne Pathogens in Southern California Dogs With Clinical and Laboratory Abnormalities Consistent With Immune‐Mediated Disease. J Vet Intern Med. 2017 Jul-Aug; 31(4): 1081–1090.

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