Autoimmune Diseases in Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers

Autoimmune Diseases in Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers

Like all dog breeds, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers Opens in a new tab.may develop an autoimmune disease or have the genetic predisposition to develop one at some point in their lives.

These autoimmune diseases tell their brain to attack healthy tissues within their body, ranging from skin to stomach tissues.

The brain essentially becomes confused, resulting in bodily damage that can progress into something fatal if left untreated.

As a specific breed, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling RetrieversOpens in a new tab., or Tollers, are more likely to develop a handful of autoimmune diseases than other breeds.

Knowing the symptoms and the treatment options of these diseases is important for all current or aspiring Toller owners.

What Are The Symptoms Of Autoimmune Disease In Dogs And Their Types?

  • Addison’s Disease

This autoimmune disease attacks cells in the adrenal glands, causing insufficient production of cortisol and aldosterone.

Cortisol is used to control metabolism, blood pressure, and sugar levels, while aldosterone helps regulate sodium and potassium.

If the adrenal glands are damaged in any way, whether by disease or physical damage, Addison’s disease can quickly take hold.

The tendency for Tollers to experience this autoimmune disease suggests that Addison’s disease has a greater genetic predisposition than what was once thought. The symptoms of this disease are as follows:

  • Irregular Heart Rate
  • Low Body Temperature
  • Hair Loss
  • Bloody Stool
  • Loss of Appetite/Weight Loss
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy/Weakness
  • Hypoglycemia

Tollers tend to develop this disease at a young age–when they are seemingly at their healthiest.

To check your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers’ health status or their DNA checks, please visit the Embark vetOpens in a new tab. website for all the help you may need.

 What Are The Symptoms Of Autoimmune Disease In Dogs And Their Types?

Thyroid Disease

Hypothyroidism attacks cells in the thyroid gland through the use of antibodies. Once enough of the thyroid cells are destroyed, your dog will begin showing symptoms.

The unfortunate aspect of this disease is that it takes a 75% loss of thyroid cells before your dog will begin showing symptoms, which can make hypothyroidism trickier to correct and treat. Watch out for these symptoms in your Toller:

  • Lethargy and Mental Dullness
  • Exercise Intolerance
  • Cold Intolerance
  • Unprecedented Weight Gain


There are two types of lupus that your Toller may experience: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE).

The latter is less severe, generally affecting the skin and causing sores and itching. The first, SLE, is much more severe and can be fatal.

SLE employs antibodies to attack major organs, blood, the nervous system, and the skin. Lupus often reoccurs in flare-ups, and there is a likelihood for breeds to be genetically predisposed for this disease–check with your breeder for a history of lupus or other autoimmune diseases. These are the SLE symptoms to look out for:

  • Excessive Thirst And Urination
  • Fever
  • Fur Loss
  • Scabbing Skin
  • Sores
  • Anemia
  • Lameness In Varying Legs
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes

For DLE, watch for:

  • Itchy, Red Skin
  • Nose Paling or Discoloration
  • Red Nose or Lips
  • Flaky Skin
Autoimmune Diseases in dogs

Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia

This disease, abbreviated as AIHA, mistakenly destroys new blood cells produced and released by the bone marrow.

Because of this rapid rate of destruction, blood cell levels take a sharp decline and leave your dog severely anemic.

As healthy red blood cells are destroyed, the excess of dead cells begins to build in the eyes, skin, and urine, creating a discoloration that can clue you into what your dog is suffering from. Look for these symptoms:

  • Yellow, Pale Gums
  • Dark Urine–Orange in Color
  • Jaundice Coloring in The Skin And Eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Discoordination
  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • Constant Sleepiness
  • Cold Extremities
  • Low Appetite
  • Difficulty Breathing

Immune-Mediated Thrombocytopenia (IMT)

Immune-Mediated Thrombocytopenia is similar to Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia in that it destroys platelets much faster than is sustainable, leading to excess cell waste and a steep drop in a vital blood component.

Without the proper amount of platelets coursing through your dog’s blood, any cut or scratch will bleed for a much longer period of time, delaying healing.

This can happen inside and outside of the skin, which could make this a very severe autoimmune disease to contract. Look for any of the following symptoms in your Toller:

  • Dark Urine And Stool
  • Skin or Gum Bruising
  • Nosebleeds
  • Blood In Stool And Urine
  • Low Appetite
  • Mental Fogginess

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Bacteria in the intestines are natural and beneficial, aiding in food disassembly and nutrient absorption. Inflammatory Bowel Disease is the aggravated immune system response to this bacteria, causing inflammation and painful gastrointestinal symptoms.

With an inflamed lining, nutrient absorption will be difficult and your Toller may become malnourished as a result. Watch out for these symptoms:

  • Bloating And Gas
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Noisy Stomach–Gurgling
  • Bloody Stool
  • Weight Loss
  • Discomfort And Isolating

Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis (IMP)

This autoimmune disease targets a dog’s joints. In Tollers, this disease often strikes the young and can be severe. If affected, your Toller will experience joint pain, swelling, and a resulting inability to walk properly.

This can be especially detrimental for young puppies who naturally long to run around and explore. The following symptoms could indicate IMP

  • Lethargy
  • Reluctance To Walk
  • Fever
  • Joint Swelling/Pain
  • Sensitivity To Touch And Movement (Whining, Yelping)
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes

How To Help A Dog With Autoimmune Diseases

While there are varying types of treatment plans for autoimmune diseases in dogs,Opens in a new tab. few treatments can be done within the home.

For a quick, more effective form of treatment, you’ll likely need the help of a veterinarian to diagnose the autoimmune disease and to prescribe a medication or a round of shots.

Thankfully, the advances in veterinary medicine enable a prompt reversal of your Toller’s pain and discomfort.

Not every treatment option can make an autoimmune disease go away, but these options do reduce flare-ups and pain. Try these tactics to both prevent autoimmune diseases and reduce their symptom’s discomfort:

How To Help A Dog With Autoimmune Diseases

Switch To A Whole-Foods Diet

Dog food is often formulated with preservatives and other chemicals that can be and are toxic to dogs. Avoiding bagged and canned foods in favor of a diet consisting of whole foods like chicken and rice will help your Toller steer clear of any toxic chemicals.

Keep Your Dog Happy And Healthy

Moderate exercise and low-stress levels also help reduce the risk of developing autoimmune disease or a disease that can lead to one. Exercise heightens blood flow and breathing, which are both great for the immune system.

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