Content continues after advertisement

They Are Lesion

Clinician's Brief (Capsule)


|October 2015

Sign in to Print/View PDF

There is increasing recognition of clinical variants of lupus erythematosus. However, the diagnosis for dogs with chronic erosive juxtamucosal lesions with histopathology consistent with cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE) is unclear. This retrospective study described 21 such cases of mucocutaneous lesions in dogs proposed to have mucocutaneous lupus erythematosus (MCLE).

All dogs had chronic lesions of >2 months duration predominating at mucosae or mucocutaneous junctions. The lesions were incompletely responsive to appropriate antibiotic and antiseptic treatment and had histopathology consistent with CLE. Lesions commonly developed in the genital/perigenital area and perianal area with a lower frequency of involvement on perioral, periocular, and nasal skin. Most dogs had involvement of 2 or more regions. The earliest clinical signs were usually mucocutaneous erosion/ulceration, dyschezia, and/or dysuria. Mucocutaneous lesions were typically symmetrical and consisted of well-demarcated areas of erosion and ulceration, erythema, hyperpigmentation, and crusting without concurrent signs of systemic disease. Histological lesions consisted of lymphocyte-rich interface dermatitis with evidence of basal keratinocyte damage; evidence of bacterial infection was common.

Dogs responded well to varying treatment protocols (eg, glucocorticoids, niacinamide, tetracycline/doxycycline). Complete remission was achieved in 16/17 dogs, although some remained on low drug doses long-term. Treatment with oral glucocorticoids often led to shorter treatment times; relapses were common during drug tapering. This disease, distinct from discoid lupus erythematosus, is believed to be a variant of chronic CLE.


The presence of mucocutaneous ulcerations in dogs is always a disturbing finding after common causes are ruled out. Three diseases mimic MCLE. Histopathology is needed to differentiate these diseases, but there are some clinical findings that are helpful. The first differential is mucocutaneous pyoderma. Clinically, this is differentiated by its tendency to affect the nose or perioral skin, its less erosive presentation, and its response to antibiotic therapy. The second is mucocutaneous pemphigoid, which looks similar to MCLE. Biopsy is needed for differentiation, but lesions more commonly affect the oral cavity; perimucosal erosions often affect the mucosa itself, and vesicles and scars are present. The third is erythema multiforme, typically seen in association with extensive macules, papules, or plaques with a central clearing (target lesions).— Karen A. Moriello, DVM, DACVD


For global readers, a calculator to convert laboratory values, dosages, and other measurements to SI units can be found here.

All Clinician's Brief content is reviewed for accuracy at the time of publication. Previously published content may not reflect recent developments in research and practice.

Material from Clinician's Brief may not be reproduced, distributed, or used in whole or in part without prior permission of Educational Concepts, LLC. For questions or inquiries please contact us.


Clinician's Brief:
The Podcast
Listen as host Alyssa Watson, DVM, talks with the authors of your favorite Clinician’s Brief articles. Dig deeper and explore the conversations behind the content here.
Clinician's Brief provides relevant diagnostic and treatment information for small animal practitioners. It has been ranked the #1 most essential publication by small animal veterinarians for 9 years.*

*2007-2017 PERQ and Essential Media Studies

© 2023 Educational Concepts, L.L.C. dba Brief Media ™ All Rights Reserved. Terms & Conditions | DMCA Copyright | Privacy Policy | Acceptable Use Policy