Pemphigus is a group of skin diseases that attack healthy skin cells in dogs. They occur due to an improperly functioning immune system. The most common of these conditions is pemphigus foliaceus, but it is possible for dogs to develop more than one form of pemphigus at a time, which is called a pemphigus complex.
Pemphigus is common in certain breeds of dogs, such as Akitas, chows, dachshunds, bearded collies, Dobermans, schipperkes, Finnish spitzes and Newfoundlands, according to Vet Info. Collies, Shetland sheepdogs and German shepherds are susceptible to a milder form of pemphigus known as pemphigus erythematosus.
Dogs may develop a fever and refuse to eat while suffering from pemphigus. As the immune system attacks the dog's skin, blisters, lesions or sores begin to form on the face, ears, legs and feet.
Pemphigus is most common in middle-aged or older dogs rather than puppies, reports PetPlace.com.
Without treatment, severe forms of pemphigus, such as pemphigus foliaceus, can be fatal for dogs.
About 50 percent of pemphigus cases in dogs can be treated through the use of corticosteroid medications, according to Mar Vista Animal Medical Center. For other dogs, medications that suppress the immune system, such as azathioprine, are required.
Only 40 percent of dogs survive the most severe form of pemphigus, according to Mar Vista Animal Medical Center. This is partially because some dog owners decide upon euthanasia if the dog does not respond to treatment or if prescription drugs become too expensive.