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sjögren-like Syndrome in Dogs

Sjögren-like Syndrome is a chronic autoimmune condition found in adult dogs, mirroring its human counterpart. It manifests with symptoms such as dry eyes, dry mouth, and inflammation of glands due to the infiltration of specific white blood cells. This syndrome is often linked to other autoimmune or immune-mediated disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and pemphigus.

The exact cause of Sjögren-like Syndrome in dogs remains elusive, though it is believed that autoantibodies targeting glandular tissues play a significant role. Certain breeds, including the English bulldog, West Highland white terrier, and miniature schnauzer, appear to be more susceptible to this condition. Interestingly, cats do not exhibit a similar syndrome.

Symptoms and Types

The signs of Sjögren-like syndrome typically emerge during adulthood in dogs. These symptoms include:

  • Dry eyes resulting from inadequate tear production (keratoconjunctivitis sicca), which is the most noticeable clinical feature
  • Inflammation of the tissues surrounding the eye (conjunctivitis)
  • Corneal inflammation (keratitis)
  • Abnormal eye twitching (blepharospasm)
  • Redness of the tissues around the eyes
  • Corneal lesions, ranging from opacity to ulceration
  • Gum inflammation (gingivitis)
  • Mouth ulcers (stomatitis)


Sjögren-like syndrome seems to arise alongside other immune-mediated and autoimmune conditions, indicating an immunological component. Additionally, certain dog breeds may have a genetic predisposition to this disease.


To diagnose Sjögren-like syndrome in your dog, it’s essential to provide your veterinarian with a comprehensive history of your dog’s health, including details about the onset and characteristics of the symptoms. Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical examination along with tests including a complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. Additionally, a Schirmer tear test may be performed to assess tear production rate (normally 0 to 5 millimeters per minute).

Common serological findings in dogs with Sjögren-like syndrome may include:

  • Hypergammaglobulinemia, detected through serum protein electrophoresis (indicating high levels of antibodies in the blood)
  • Positive antinuclear antibody test
  • Positive lupus erythematosus cell test (related to an immune disorder causing skin disease)
  • Positive rheumatoid factor test (associated with immune-disorder induced arthritis)
  • Positive indirect fluorescent antibody test for autoantibodies (antibodies the animal may produce against its own body)


Treatment for Sjögren-like syndrome in dogs typically focuses on managing concurrent diseases and controlling keratoconjunctivitis sicca. This involves the use of topical tear preparations, immunosuppressive or anti-inflammatory medications, and topical antibiotics to address secondary bacterial infections of the cornea. Dogs that do not respond adequately to these methods may necessitate surgical intervention.

Living and Management

Your veterinarian will arrange regular follow-up appointments to monitor your dog’s progress, address concurrent diseases, and manage any side effects linked to immunosuppressive medications.

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