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Inflammation of the Skin Blood Vessels in Dogs

Vasculitis Cutaneous in Dogs

Cutaneous vasculitis in dogs refers to the inflammation of blood vessels caused by an increase in neutrophils, lymphocytes, or occasionally eosinophil deposition. Neutrophils, lymphocytes, and eosinophils are vital white blood cells involved in the immune system.

Dogs of any age, gender, or breed can be impacted, although certain breeds such as dachshunds, collies, Shetland sheepdogs, German shepherds, and rottweilers are particularly susceptible.

Symptoms and Types

  • Skin presenting purplish-red spots
  • Appearance of small vesicles containing watery fluid
  • Painful regions, notably in the paws, ears, lips, tail, and oral membranes
  • Edema (swelling due to fluid retention) in the legs, potentially forming pits when pressed
  • Itchy skin
  • Presence of skin ulcers, with some areas showing tissue necrosis
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depressive behavior
  • Elevated body temperature


  • Unknown (idiopathic)
  • Adverse drug reactions
  • Negative interactions with vaccines
  • Food allergies
  • Abnormal tissue growth or tumors (neoplasia)
  • Diseases transmitted by ticks


Initially, your veterinarian will collect fluid samples as well as samples of the affected tissue for analysis. Laboratory tests, including a complete blood count, biochemistry profile, electrolyte panel, and urinalysis, typically yield results within normal ranges. Additional specific tests may be conducted to rule out other diseases with similar symptoms.

Sampling from the upper skin layers is necessary for laboratory analysis, and the involvement of a veterinary pathologist may be required to assess any abnormalities accurately. The pathologist may need to examine multiple skin layers to determine the nature of changes, such as the type and accumulation of white blood cells (neutrophils, lymphocytes, or eosinophils) around blood vessels.

Observations may include necrotized blood vessels, hemorrhages, or edema within the skin layers. In cases where systemic infections are suspected, further laboratory testing may be necessary to identify the causative infectious organism.


Addressing the underlying disease is crucial for symptom resolution. If an infection is detected, antibiotics will be prescribed, and intravenous fluids may be administered if dehydration is present. In instances of immune-mediated diseases, medications to suppress the abnormal immune system response will be prescribed.

Living and Management

If your dog requires immune system-suppressing medication, close monitoring is essential for detecting any irregularities, changes in health status, or new illnesses. These medications carry the risk of serious side effects due to immune suppression, making it crucial to minimize the risk of new infections and provide a healthy diet and stress-free environment.

Regular follow-up examinations, approximately every two weeks, will assess therapy progress and allow for necessary adjustments. Routine laboratory tests are essential to monitor immune system suppression levels. If excessive suppression and resulting discomfort occur, dosage adjustments of immune-suppressing drugs will be made.

The overall prognosis hinges largely on successful treatment of the underlying disease. In cases where the underlying disease remains unidentified and untreated, the prognosis is generally poor.

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