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Skin Blisters and Pustules in Dogs

Bullous Pemphigoid in Dogs

Bullous Pemphigoid in Dogs is a rare skin ailment characterized by the emergence of fluid-filled blisters and pus-filled pustules, accompanied by severe open sores on the skin or mucous membranes within the mouth. It demands immediate and aggressive treatment, as untreated cases could potentially result in fatality. Certain breeds, including collies, Shetland sheepdogs, and Doberman pinschers, are considered to be the most susceptible to this condition.

Symptoms and Types

Bullous pemphigoid manifests in two forms: the common blister (bullous) form and the relatively rare long-term (chronic) form. The bullous form presents with open sores, short-term blisters, and circular lesions on the superficial layer of the skin. Known as epidermal collarettes, these lesions feature peeling edges, circular shapes, and rims. Onset is typically sudden and severe, with symptoms widely distributed across the head, neck, abdomen, groin, feet, and mucous membranes (moist tissues lining the nose and mouth). Dogs experiencing severe symptoms may also show signs of lack of appetite (anorexia) and depression.


Bullous pemphigoid stems from an autoimmune disorder. It arises when the body generates an antibody that targets its own cells, essentially leading to self-attack. This particular antibody, referred to as the pemphigoid antibody, is classified as an autoantibody. It targets the skin’s underlying membrane or the inner mucous linings of the body, resulting in blister formation beneath the skin. Sunlight exposure can exacerbate the condition.


Several tests can be employed to diagnose bullous pemphigoid. Initially, an examination (biopsy) of the lesions, along with an analysis of the tissue and fluid within the blisters, is conducted. Urine tests and bacterial cultures might also be performed to detect secondary infections resulting from bacterial infiltration. Additional tests recommended by your veterinarian are contingent upon supplementary symptoms that could indicate alternative diagnoses. For instance, potential alternative diagnoses may encompass fungal infections or exposure to toxic substances.


The treatment approach varies based on the severity of symptoms and the potential for secondary infections, such as those caused by bacterial invasion. Managing bullous pemphigoid necessitates the use of immunosuppressive agents to mitigate or halt the immune system’s activity, along with gentle cleansing soaks using antibacterial shampoo and water. Antibiotics might be prescribed to address bacterial infections that arise as secondary consequences of this skin condition. Hospitalization may be required if severe symptoms persist throughout the body (systemic) or if secondary infections develop. Despite timely and effective treatment, the long-term prognosis for this disease is unfavorable.

Living and Management

Dogs diagnosed with bullous pemphigoid require regular monitoring to track the advancement of the disease and to detect any potential medication-related side effects, such as immunosuppression, which weakens the immune system. It’s important to keep affected dogs away from sunlight, as exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light can exacerbate lesions.


Given that UV rays can exacerbate the condition, it is advisable to limit your dog’s exposure to excessive sunlight until the treatment is completed.

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