SLO is another example of an auto immune disorder which affects Beardies, and although not common is perhaps the condition most frequently seen in the Beardie population. It is characterised by claw problems in otherwise healthy young dogs . The claws split and crumble, the quick recedes and the nail may be lost completely. Sometimes there is secondary infection. In severe cases all the claws may be lost. A definitive diagnosis can only be achieved by a biopsy of a claw. To do this properly it would be necessary to remove a toe. This is much too drastic and owners should not allow Vets to do this. The diagnosis can be made clinically by observing the crumbling and splitting of two or more nails on different paws.
SLO is probably more common than is realised. In the past the wrong diagnosis was often made, blaming it on simple infections and just calling it broken nails! In the milder cases not even being noticed!
Treatment is aimed at minimising discomfort by clipping the nails back and occasionally removing one if broken and causing pain. Supplemental feeding with essential fatty acids (EFA) and treatment with tetracycline and niacinamide for a few months will usually significantly improve things and induce a remission. Life long supplementation with EFAs may prevent future relapses especially at times of stress. Steroids are less helpful in SLO than other auto immune disorders.
The signs to look out for are multiple nail loss, licking the nails, an oozing around the base of the nail, separation of the nail from the quick. Limping, infection and odour from the nails.
Like other autoimmune conditions the dog forms antibodies against their own nails and rejects them ultimately destroying them.
Very recent work in the last few years has associated the disorder with various haplotypes found in the DLA class 11 area of chromosome 12. The presence of some haplotypes increase the risk of SLO if the trigger factors are also present whereas another haplotype seems to be protective
There is general consensus that an affected dog or bitch should not be further used in any breeding programme. There is probably less consensus if the condition is in a sibling or ancestor and a very careful assessment should be made. Whelping can be a stress factor and it is not unusual for SLO to develop a few months later, indeed this is a stress factor predisposing to many of the autoimmune disorders.
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