What exactly is this disease?
Pemphigus foliaceus (PF) is a skin disease of dogs and cats that typically begins in early middle age. It causes crusting on the skin surface, usually on the feet at or near the claw [nail] beds. The skin under these crusts is raw and may be painful. The disease may begin on the face and ears, but often spreads to affect the skin on other parts of the body. It can also cause thickening and cracking of the footpads. The nail beds are often affected in cats. Fortunately, other organs are not affected by the disease.
What causes pemphigus foliaceus?
The skin lesions in PF arise when the animal’s immune system targets the skin. The immune system normally clears infections and any substances that are “foreign” to the body, while ignoring, or tolerating, substances that are normally found there. In PF, the immune system appears to consider some of the normal components of the skin as foreign. It uses the mechanisms normally launched at foreign invaders to try to “clear” these skin components. The resulting inflammation and skin damage lead to the crusting that is seen on the surface.
What causes the immune system to no longer consider the skin as a normal part of the body? Unfortunately, we do not know what factors contribute to this error. In a few cases, medications or infections trigger the immune system to act inappropriately. We know that some breeds of dogs seem more prone to developing the disease. Once PF has developed, it tends to be a lifelong condition due to the long-lasting “memory” of the immune system.
Read more here http://www.penmarric.ns.ca/catcare/health/Pemphigus.htm
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