What is Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy?
Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy (SLO) is an autoimmune disease occurring in dogs that can cause severe toenail problems, with the condition most characterized by the loss of nails, eventually with all nails falling off. Other symptoms may include receding quicks of the nail, secondary infection, nail splitting, pain, distorted/twisted nails, toenails that are falling off or draining, and lameness. Greyhounds and German Shepherds seem most likely to suffer from SLO, the dog's immune system actually rejecting and expelling the nail/claw as if it was a foreign invader - the hallmark of an autoimmune condition.
The first step toward proper dog health is often to treat similar nail issues with anti-fungals, since the condition can be confused with a fungus infection. If this form of treatment is ineffective, Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy is the more likely diagnosis. In that case, supplemental fish oils and vitamin E added to your dog's diet can eventually get SLO under control. Direct application of either oil directly on the affected nails may help as well. Proper wound care is essential, if appropriate, and long-term care is often needed in the form of the supplementary oils. Food allergies are a possible trigger for the immune disease, so a change of dog food may be in order.