What We’ve Learned About Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy

Paw of a German Shepherd with Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy
Broken Toenails may be more Serious than Your Dog Just Being a Klutz
July 18, 2013
August 21, 2013
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What We’ve Learned About Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy

This past month has been depressing, maddening and exhausting for me and painful and depressing for Riley. Since he was diagnosed with SLO I’ve spent mega-hours on the Internet researching Symmetical Lupoid Onychodystrophy. I want to share our experience with it and what I’ve learned so far because one of the things we work hard to do here at Riley’s Place is to try to help educate people so they can be better dog owners with happier, safer and healthier dogs.

I’ve had several crying jags and for a full solid day and a half I was so angry about the pain he’s in and what’s happening to him that I wanted to punch out every wall I could find. I managed to get through it without punching or trashing anything but it wasn’t easy. Because his disease was more likely preventable than not, I wrestle a lot with my guilt over not knowing this could happen and the “if onlys” which are tough for me to work out in my head. Beating myself up over this isn’t going to help Riley and I have to keep reminding myself of that — but reminders don’t make my guilt go away.

So, I’m going to continue the saga of Riley’s broken nails in the hopes that I can save at least one dog from getting it. Please remember that I’m not a veterinarian nor do I hold any licenses or certifications in any veterinary medicine field. I am simply sharing what I’ve learned through my own research and experience with our Riley’s SLO.

What is Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy?

SLO is an autoimmune disease which affects the toenails. Autoimmune of course means that the body is attacking itself. SLO occurs when the dog’s body forms antibodies against their own toenails, it’s like the body launches it’s own private war which destroys the dog’s nails. Some of you may think “So big hairy deal! They’re just toenails, they’ll grow back.” I got a news flash for ya — it’s not that simple and it is a big deal mostly because it’s so painful for them. There was one article I read titled “Hell’s Nails” which is absolutely right-on target!

What are the Symptoms of SLO?

I combined the symptoms found on the Grassmere Animal Hospital and Bloodaxe websites into one list:

  • multiple nail loss from more than one paw – eventually all nails will probably be lost
  • licking the nails
  • visible oozing around the base of the nail
  • receding quicks
  • separation or splitting of the nail from the quick usually on the underside of the nail
  • nails “lift up” like you lift the hood of your car or a hinged jewelry box
  • pain and limping
  • distorted or twisted nails
  • discolored or rough looking nails or quicks where the nails used to be
  • infection often with a strong odor
  • lameness

How is SLO Diagnosed?

A definitive diagnosis can only be achieved through a biopsy. Because a toe must be amputated for biopsy this is considered an extreme measure and is only performed if absolutely necessary. The symptoms themselves are alarming and definitive enough that in most cases the dog just begins treatment. Our vet first consulted with the Dermatology department at U.W. Veterinary Hospital in Madison, WI and they advised her to not even bother with things like cultures or biopsies. Based on his symptoms — SLO was the only possible diagnosis.

What Triggers SLO?

Since SLO is still considered a rare disease at this point in time, unfortunately no one knows 100% for sure what causes it. There are a number of studies on it with various possibilities including genetics, vaccinations, allergies and one site even mentioned a dog that was diagnosed with hypothyroidism at about the same time he was diagnosed with Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy. Even if one day someone figures out what causes SLO, we may learn it’s not just one single thing.

One thing I consider strange is that after years of being on the same dose of thyroid medicine, Riley’s annual blood test for his hypothryoidism came back just a tad on the high side. On retest three months later the results were the same and was originally attributed to him having gotten older and simply needing a dosage adjustment. Whether or not his hypothyroidism is involved somehow we don’t know for sure but because of that and the timing, I suspect it is.

German Shepherds are one of the breeds most often diagnosed with SLO and this is where genetics may play a role. But the actual trigger for Riley’s SLO we now believe were the normal common annual vaccinations he received in April. Although he may be genetically predisposed to being a victim of SLO, everything falls into place and points to the vaccinations as being the actual trigger.

Neither of our dogs will be receiving any more vaccinations of any kind — ever. The one vaccine I may not be able to get around is rabies but I’m going to find out if I can get a medical exemption for both our dogs — especially Riley. The state of Wisconsin does have a medical waiver law for rabies but I still have to find out how this works. I will be speaking with our city health department and other city officials and if I can prove through obtaining a blood titer test which shows he’s still protected from rabies it just might work.

It’s looking like the rabies vaccine may protect a dog for at least five and as long as seven years now! More information on this is available on the Rabies Challenge Fund website. I strongly suggest you educate yourselves on what over-vaccinating our dogs can do to them. It’s not pretty. Our entire country is over-vaccinating dogs (and not just with rabies vaccines) thinking this is what good dog parents are supposed to do to keep them safe from disease. Today’s reality is that most dogs are likely protected for many more years and sometimes for life by the vaccines they received when they are very young. All these annual vaccines we give our dogs is doing them more harm than good. Seriously, learn more about this.

Is there a Cure for SLO?

SLO is forever, currently there is no cure and it’s not contagious. This is a lifelong illness that one can only attempt to manage with treatment. Even if you get it under control, it can flair up at any time and there is no guarantee you will be able to get it under control. Some say summer seems to be a popular time of year for SLO flare ups.

What is the Treatment for SLO?

Antibiotics are prescribed (Doxycycline is popular for SLO) along with a version of vitamin B called Niacinamide. Add fish oil (salmon oil is suggested as being the best fish oil for this) and vitamin E as you always should give vitamin E along with fish oil. He cannot have any dairy products (he misses his fruit yogurt mixed with cottage cheese desserts!) because dairy products bind with the antibiotic making them less effective.

A word of warning, when giving your dog higher than normal doses of things like fish oil and vitamin E be wary of injuries that bleed because these products can cause anticoagulation of the blood among other risks. Over time fish oil can deplete the body of it’s normal vitamin E so you give the vitamin E to prevent this deficiency.

If you suspect your dog is suffering from SLO, please do not just begin treatment on your own. Always see your vet first and get a diagnosis, preferably without a biopsy. A dermatology vet can most likely diagnose without a biopsy. Treatment should be administered only under your vet’s care. The pain-killer Meloxicam was also prescribed for him. Riley does not handle pain killers well, they upset his tummy so I did not give them to him every day. I chose his bad days to give him pain meds.

It’s recommended to give your dog probiotics when they’re on any kind of antibiotic. Riley started refusing to eat his meals and I knew it was because something was upsetting his tummy. Since I hadn’t given him any pain meds for several days I knew it had to be something else which turned out to be the Doxy. These meds must be given with food so eating is a requirement for treatment. I picked up some probiotics at Walgreens (they keep them in the fridge in the pharmacy but it’s an over-the-counter product) and gave him one that morning. By dinner time he was eating again and has been eating fine since as long as I give him a probiotic capsule every morning.

Niacinamide should not be mistaken for or replaced with what is only thought to be something similar. When I went to Walgreens the first time to pick some up I couldn’t find Niacinamide so I asked the pharmacist who told me that the other products I saw on the shelf were the same thing and that I would never find a stand-alone version of Niacinamide. Niacin was just one of these products, it contains Niacinamide but is not directly Niacinimide. I checked further when I got home and found the pharmacist was incorrect. There is a difference and I did find straight Niacinamide at Vitacost. You need the non-flushing formula — the last thing your dog needs is to have to put up with hot flashes while they’re suffering from SLO!

I found that the homeopathic remedy called Hypericum Perf. 30X which is for nerve pain seems to be helpful in keeping him from licking his toenails so much. I was waking up and coming home to his dog pillows being literally soaked in doggie slobber from him licking his nails — usually when one is on it’s way off. Can you imagine licking your fingers for hours on end? If I keep him dosed on this the licking is minimal and sometimes non-existent.

I just picked up his second month’s supply of antibiotics. My vet thinks it’s possible he’ll have to be on antibiotics the rest of his life. I sure hope not, from what I’ve found the nail loss stage usually runs 8-12 weeks and then the antibiotics will likely be phased out. DO NOT just stop the antibiotics cold turkey, they must be phased out gradually. Do not phase them out without your vet’s ok and only after having been given directions on how to phase them out.

Is SLO Fatal?

I haven’t found any evidence that your dog will literally die from it directly but think about this; if your dog gets SLO and you do nothing to help him, he may eventually not be able to walk because he’s in so much pain. If your dog can’t walk, what’s the solution? That’s right, you put him out of his misery — he dies at the end of a needle or in some cases — he’s taken out into a field somewhere and stares terrified down the barrel of a gun wondering what he did wrong that his best friend is doing this to him until it’s over.

At our house this makes SLO a potentially fatal disease. There are too many people who’d not seek veterinary help just because their dog is loosing toenails. They just wouldn’t consider toenail loss as something to spend money on a vet for and so their dog would suffer and possibly go lame. I learned my lesson when Riley was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and so we don’t mess around if something seems not quite right with them. If our dogs become ill, we do everything we can (cost be damned!) to get them healthy. If there comes a point in time that their quality of life deteriorates to the point they’re suffering with no way whatsoever to stop their suffering to the point that we would only keeping them alive for our own selfish reasons, we’ll be forced to have them euthanized.

To us this means dogs could indirectly die as a result of SLO. Kind of reminds me of people involved in serious accidents — they may not pass away for months or years but the cause of their death was the original accident or complications from it.

What’s Life Like for Riley Now?

He’s still not through the nail loss stage so he’s still in a lot of pain and limps quite often. To date he’s not grown any nails back, all you can see are the quicks that used to have nails covering them and the actual lifting action seems to have slowed. It’s now getting to be late August and we originally realized that something was wrong the first week of June with SLO diagnosis in mid-July so it’s been a very long summer. Having lost his back nails, dew claws and some front nails his front feet are still being affected. I think it’s possible the treatment has slowed the nail loss but I can’t say for sure and we haven’t had any blood baths in several weeks. The photo below was taken this morning:

Riley's left front foot

Currently his front feet are flatter than normal and his toes are more spread out. His front nails look long and normally black in color are now various states of bi-color. He walks kinda floppy footed on his front feet, think of a clown walking wearing those huge flat shoes. The walk is exaggerated and he takes more of a deliberate step rather than having a dog’s natural gate. Because of his pain our almost daily walks are down to maybe one every week or 10 days. His back feet seem to not be too painful but I really don’t think he’s totally pain free there either.

He spends a lot of time laying around looking very depressed. The photo at the top of this page is how Riley spent most of his summer. I always thought it would be nice to have a couch potato for a dog, this is not what I had in mind. Where he used to go charging up the stairs when it was time for bed, he now lays on the floor and has no interest in coming upstairs to be with Nissa and me. I don’t know how long it takes for him to join us, but when I get up he’s always there so he does manage to maneuver the stairs sometime after we are sleeping. There have been a number of instances where his Dad has carried him upstairs because he couldn’t do it on his own. It breaks my heart to leave him downstairs but unfortunately, I don’t have the strength to carry him upstairs myself. To do so would probably cause us to both tumble down the stairs. I tried this when he had his hip surgery and found out quickly (but without incident) this is not something I can do for him. He can’t jump into my SUV so if I have to take him somewhere I have to lift him into my vehicle.

One good day I took them to the field about two weeks ago. I checked first, it had been mowed. I knew he’d probably just walk rather than run with Nissa which is exactly how it went. But at least he got out of the house for a little while into some new but familiar surroundings and just as important Nissa got in a little romp time which she’s been cheated out of all summer.

He’s lost some weight and looks thin, I’d say he’s lost at least 2-3 pounds. That may not seem like much but it’s noticeable. His coat has dulled and I’m hoping it’s only because he needs a bath badly. I can’t see making him stand in pain for several hours just to bathe and blow him dry. That just seems cruel, so we do a lot of brushing and I spritz him with our favorite doggie cologne a couple times a week.

Adding to his discomfort is the fact that he’s also blowing his coat the past month or so which is an uncomfortable time for dogs. I tell ya, my boy just can’t catch a break.

I really want this nail loss stage to be over and to see new nail growth. That’s supposedly when his pain stops and his life can begin to get back to some kind of normal. I also want my Riley back, annoying, irritating quirks and all!

Update – April 18, 2014 – Giving Your Dog Pentoxifylline for SLO

I just had a one-on-one meeting with our vet yesterday regarding switching Riley to Pentoxifylline or adding it to his medications for his SLO. We decided to not put him on Pentoxifylline due to the potential side effects and the fact that he’s doing well on his current meds. My vet and I agree that if it’s not broke don’t fix it and so far his meds are working so why mess with it? We of course don’t know what the future holds and are not ruling out use of Pentoxifylline in the future if what he’s getting now fails for some reason. Our vet put some notes in Riley’s chart on this for future reference. We will however, not just jump into Pentoxifylline if it seems we need to do something different. We would at that point, investigate every available option before putting it into his medication regime.

The potential side effects are alarming for me and our dogs. As our vet described it can be like giving your dog caffeine. It can affect the central nervous system much the same as the theofylline or theobromine does in chocolate which is what makes chocolate so toxic to dogs. Even if it would not be toxic for him, it could increase his excitement level and that’s one big thing we do not want to happen in him. He can get quite (overly!) excited enough on his own without help from some drug. You’d know what I meant if you could see him “greet” the mailman every day, LOL! Not pretty!

It’s always been my understanding that continued use of antibiotics can cause the antibiotic to become ineffective which is the reason I checked into switching him to the Pentoxifylline in the first place. Don’t ask me for the doctor/scientific mumbo-jumbo cuz I don’t remember all that, but the basic gist of things is that there are two ways antibiotics work and in the case of using them for SLO as they are used, the antibiotic becoming ineffective is not an issue.  That was enough for me and along with the rest of what I got from our vet, we nixed the use of Pentoxifylline at least at this point.


  1. Dorothy says:

    I’m so glad I saw this information. My beagle, Rocky, was diagnosed a little over 4 years ago. His treatment seems to be working wonders, he’s on doxy, fish oil, vitamin e and niacinimide for the disease as well as cranberry and glucosamine chondroitin ( I use hypericum perf because I saw it here and he hardly bites his nails any more!) did you ever hear of using biotin as part of the treatment?
    I would like to know if you’ve ever heard of blood in the urine accompanying this disease. I had my old vet try and figure out what was causing that but all he recommended was getting him neutered because all tests showed no problem. ( I ended up leaving him because he wouldn’t pursue lupoid symmetrical as a diagnosis).
    I think I talked to Rockys new vet about the problem when he first went there 4 years ago but we’re going back this Thursday to see if this is something serious. He doesn’t seem to be in pain at all, and he has a very low threshold for pain in the first place.
    Any information would be appreciated, my vet is very open to any and all info from his pet parents. They, Vernon Vet, said they actually have a few other cases of this and were a very small town. I sometimes wonder if Lyme disease could be a factor in this, when we rescued Rocky at a little over 1 year old he tested positive for the virus even though he didn’t have the disease ( he was on antibiotics for a couple weeks as part of that problem)

    • Mom says:

      Hi Dorothy,

      I have not used biotin but seems to me I’ve heard of it being used for SLO. I’ve not heard of blood in the urine either, my thought is that it sounds very unlikely the two are related but I’m not a vet.

      I commend you for leaving a vet who’d not work with you towards a possible solution! That’s GREAT! I would pursue the Lyme’s disease with your new vet who seems more open to finding answers.

  2. Stacey Palm says:

    My dog had this happen years ago and although I don’t remember what the diagnosed disease name was, he was, he did chew all of his toenails down to the quicks, and was fully cured after 3 years of meds. No bad side effects from it at all and it never returned. I believe he was treated with Pentoxifylline, an antibiotic that I can’t remember the name of and niacinamide for three years. The Vet that cured him is Dr. Allison Kirby at Animal Dermatology Clinic in Marina Del Rey CA

  3. Rusty says:

    When I got my black lab Max I noticed all the symptoms of slo, obviously the previous owners didn’t care. He has responded well to just 500 mg of niacin. Per my vets recommendation after predisolone and antibiotics. I use inositol hexanicotinate and have used it for over a year now and it seems to work, miss a few days and the nails start cracking again.
    It was hard to watch when I first got him, but it’s under control now, and hes happy.

  4. Ginger Bryk says:

    My 13 year old female chihuahua was just diagnosed with SLO. Your article is quite informative. Her toenails are extremely long and twisting at the cuticle. My question is: if the toenails haven’t all sloughed off do you still trim them? Thanks, Ginger

    • Mom says:

      Hi Ginger,

      I would check with your vet. I think this has to be an individual dog thing depending on the dog’s current SLO condition, not a general yes or no answer. Although Riley hasn’t had a relapse so far, we’re also more comfortable having our vet or vet tech trim his nails. When in a flare, it’s an extremely painful condition for the dog and aggravating it isn’t good, but on the other hand letting the nails get too long of course causes them additional pain. If he’s actively in a flare you may have to have your vet trim for awhile and may even need it done under sedation. I hope your little girl feels better very soon.

  5. Beth says:

    Hi! I’m so glad I found this site. . .so many questions as our 6 year old black lab mix has been “diagnosed” with SLO but we’re having some other problems that I wondered if anyone had. Our original vet had never heard of SLO and treated our dog, Colby, with anti-fungal medication for 2 months without ever doing any bloodwork or liver screening. Two days before Easter this year, Colby was doing pretty badly so we rushed him to the ER. He had lost 12 pounds (hard to tell when they’re big guys) and was in complete liver failure. To give you an idea of how bad, his bilirubin number was over 10 (normal is .1-.3). While recovering, the ER docs told us that they thought he had SLO. Once he had healed a bit more we went to a new vet (can you blame us?) and they gave us antibiotics to give him for the SLO along with a recommendation for fish oil. I had all intentions on starting him on the regimen but he seemed fine so I didn’t. Well, about a week ago (so this is roughly 4 months after the ER visit), we noticed his urine was bright orange–a sign of high bilirubin. We made an appt immediately and his liver enzymes are high again–now his bilirubin is 1.1. But he hasn’t had any meds. My question is: Has anyone experienced SLO-like symptoms due to liver disease OR is there any evidence that having SLO affects the kidneys? Or is there anything else anyone can tell me about how this might be related? Or is he just the unluckiest dog in the world when it comes to health issues :( I’m panicked because there is a trail of blood through our house from his foot which had previously been fine. He’s taking Clavamox and Denamarin for the liver issues right now. We have another blood test scheduled in a few days to see if we need to move forward with a biopsy. Any help or ideas would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

    • Mom says:

      Hi Beth,

      I’ve never heard of SLO being related to the issues you’ve described. I’m not a vet, though. I would check with the vets you’re currently working with and hopefully they’re familiar with SLO and ask them if it’s ok to start the treatment. His SLO won’t get any better without it. You mentioned biopsy, if this is to check for the SLO, please don’t do this. Google for a few articles on what is done when declawing cats, a biopsy for SLO is the same procedure which is very painful to do and painful for the rest of his life, it’s not necessary and you could cripple your dog. I hope you find the answers your pup needs to get better!

  6. Nancy says:

    All of this is so informative ~ thank you so much. Our now 11-year old Lab mix, Jack Black, who was diagnosed with intermediate stage cancer when he was 7. He also came down with SLO not long after his surgery to remove (hopefully, all) of the cancerous lump. We opted not to do the chemo or radiation, deciding on palliative care here at home. Luckily, I’m able to be with all 3 of our dogs full time. He is doing very well so far and loses his nails on a regular basis, which is still heartbreaking for me. Reading about the “exploding nails” is exactly what this is for our JB. Our vet hadn’t heard much about it either, so I presented it to her, after reading online about SLO. I explained that I don’t believe everything I see and only 1/2 of what I read and she said that was wise (!)

    Although I don’t agree with all the diet suggestions here (I make 1/2 our dogs’ food, the other 1/2 Castor & Pollux, comes highly recommended in Whole Dog Journal) the supplement suggestions are what JB has been taking. We did get to lower the Doxy this year since he’s been on it over 3 years so far. Our vet practices a mix of traditional and Chinese, also supplementing with Drynaria 12, which I researched also).

    What got to me recently, after ALL THESE years so far and JB is still happily with us, going for walks, running with his brother & sister…was a comment a neighbor made about him…how he wouldn’t have gone through that and put him down. This neighbor had also been recently been diagnosed with DVT in his legs. I suggested he be put down. Suffice to say, we don’t associate with them any longer.

    Thanks for a great blog about SLO, it’s sad to see so many fids (furry kids) suffering from it.

    • Mom says:

      Hi Nancy,

      I’m so happy to your Black Jack is doing so well! That’s just fabulous! Am curious to know what your vet’s word is after you presented the research. It kind of sounds like you presented it and your comments, your vet replied but that seems to be the end of it. Since Black Jack is still losing nails are you treating his SLO?

      I’m always sorry to hear about people who feel that a dog is just a dog which apparently is what your neighbor’s opinion is. Of course we can’t change their minds, all we can do is continue to be who we are and prove them wrong or at the very least know and feel so good that we are following our hearts for our own pets. Our best to you and Black Jack!

  7. Whitney says:

    Hello, my 8 year old Patterdale Terrier rescue, BB King, was diagnosed with “SLO” two months ago and it has been so tough on our family. BB just doesn’t seem to be getting better and it’s breaking our hearts. After thousands of dollars in vet bills, we are now going to see a vet that is board certified in dermatology. It just seems like our current vet doesn’t know anything about SLO and finally we are taking things into our hands. I want to thank you for this blog post. I cried and cried over again as I read what you, and so many others, have been through with Riley and their pets. It is so similar to our story. There isn’t a lot of literature out there about this condition that comes from someone who has been through the treatments. I have also noticed that the only thing vets seem to agree on is the Niacinamide. We really struggled to get our vet to add any antibiotics or steroids even though BB doesn’t have any thyroid issues. After pushing our vet, BB is now on 500 mg Niacinamide 3x daily, Minocycline 2x daily, probiotics, fish oil, Standard Process Veterinary Formulas: Canine Immune System Support, and Denamarin (he has slightly elevated liver enzymes.) We are seeing our new vet dermatologist next Wednesday. Thank you for writing about this condition with such honesty and kindness. We did have one question though, how long did it take before you noticed Riley began feeling better? Thank you again for any information you could give us!

    • Mom says:

      Hi Whitney,

      I’m sorry to hear about BB’s SLO but the fact that he’s not responding to treatment is even more sad. There is more than one way to treat SLO and you’re going to a derm vet will hopefully get you a different protocol and you’ll have more luck with it. Thank you for opening your mind to the fact that your regular vet just doesn’t know enough about this and taking alternative steps to help your furkid.

      I don’t remember exactly, but I seems to me that it was a rather slow recovery for Riley. However, by the time we figured out what was going on and got this under control almost all his nails were affected so his SLO was advanced.

      I’m very happy that you found some help and comfort here and wish you and BB the best! Let us know how he’s doing and how things went with the derm vet!

      • Landy says:

        My dog was dx with lupus, plus I myself have lupus. I’m now taking my dog to one of the highest dermatologist vets known in the USA, Dr. Bloom in Livonia, Mi. I want to help him. He is biting his nails off, he’s in a no bite phase right now, not sure how long this will last though? His breath has began smelling horrible since dx. He has beautiful white teeth for I care deeply for them, so I know in my heart its not teeth related, but most likely from biting his paws? He has began losing alot of his hair too. He has hip dysplasia as well, he’s a big full breed German Shepherd, weighing about 109 lbs. I since have been told that food causes this too? This person isn’t a vet, but she treats all her dogs homeopathic. She says to feed a raw diet, the fillers in dog foods are bad? Do you recommend a raw diet? I just wish I knew how to help him, he seems depressed since dx. Plz what do you think? Thx

        • Mom says:

          Hi Landy,

          I’m so sorry to hear about your boy’s health issues. It’s heartbreaking I know, we have our own here, too. I’d be depressed too with all the health issues causing me pain and suffering, wouldn’t you?

          I heartily agree with your friend, actually I couldn’t agree more! We feed a raw diet here and the benefits are quite obvious. What we feed our dogs has a tremendous affect on their overall health and well-being. I have two articles on our website on raw feeding: (1) What’s in Your Dog’s Food Bowl? and (2) Venturing into RAW Feeding We’ve been feeding raw since June of 2011 and don’t ever plan to go back to commercial dog food. None of our dogs have bad breath, not even doggy breath and none of them have ever had to have their teeth cleaned and that’s because of the raw diet. This is not only better for them but for our wallet as it saves us about $900-$1,000 a year in teeth cleaning!

          It’s quite possible your boy is suffering from SLO. Seems to me the “Lupoid” in Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy is related to Lupus.

          What’s his vaccination schedule like? Over-vaccinating our dogs can cause a myriad of health issues. Please read: .

          Losing his hair might very well mean he’s in the late stages of Hypothyroidism, even though your dog isn’t displaying aggressive behaviors please read: Thyroid Aggression just for some basic information. Please have him tested for this as well.

          Note that one auto-immune illness/condition can lead to another and another and another because it continues to search out parts of the body to attack.

          I do hope you’re doing something to help him with his hip dysplasia, that’s so painful for our pups! We had FHO surgery done on both of Riley’s hips going on five years ago and it made all the difference in the world for him. His was so severe that had we not had this done when we did we likely would have had to put him down within a year or two from diagnosis. We continue to help him with his HD even though he’s had the surgery he does have some arthritis in his hips and so he gets one tablet of Dasuquin with MSM in each of his meals. We actually give this to all our dogs simply because they are sheps and we know the breed is prone to hip dysplasia.

          We wish you the very best! Please give your boy a hug from us!

        • Landy says:

          Yes, we took him to a dermatologist vet, the best in the country, one of them. He has helped him great, he removed his nails, and found that he had infection in the fols of his lips, since medicated we have no issues with breath! He doesn’t hurt either it seems, since removal of nails, he’s going to teach us how to keep trimmed when they grow back in. We feed blue wild without any grains, since he’s been better too, but I am going to read the article you said to read on food. As for his hips, he’s six years old, so I’m not comfortable doing surgery, but we do care and will address, this new vet is great! He’s very extremely detailed! Bloom veterinary located in Plymouth, MI, he was the first to actually get and pass the certification to be a dermatologist vet, studies at U of M. He is truly thorough and good at what he does, though he’s very expensive, and we charged over one thousand on credit card to help our dog in one visit, but he removed nails, ran tests, looked deep within ear canals, eyes he covered all! He knows the disease and I feel he’s finally in great hands, just expensive ones, but he believes in working with our local vet, so after getting our dog settled comfortable we will no longer hardly have to see this vet. He’s more of a specialty vet, and well wanted! He recommend a non doog food diet too, have us dog foods though that he wants us to give at first to see if he has any allergies, these dog foods are plain I assume? Just know that we aren’t giving up in Him. He’s becoming more like his old self before slo set into his life and ruined it. Playing with the ball again, you can walk near his paws without him being frightened again, its great! Thank you for being there, and a voice for those who need someone to believe that their dog is truly and really sick, and sadly not all vets are knowledgeable of slo, they know of it, but sadly cannot treat it properly, that’s where your site is a blessing! Thank you, and God bless you.

          • Mom says:

            Hi Landy,

            Thanks so much for the update. I’m happy to know that you’re finding solutions for your furbaby and it’s nice to hear that we were able to help you.

            I don’t know what your vet gave you for food so sorry I can’t comment on it other than to say I hope it’s not a Hills/Science Diet or Iams product. I don’t trust any manufactured dog food but that’s me.

            Hope things continue to go well!

  8. Jenni says:

    Hi, Thank you so much for writing this article. My Shepherd is experiencing his nails breaking, and falling off, and one toe seems to be infected around the nail bed, I have taken him to the vet and we have tried two different antibiotics, he is finishing out the Doxycycline, and I don’t see any marked improvement. The vet thought that he had a tumor on his toe, and we did x-rays to check for any bone destruction, there was none, they also did needle aspirations and said that there were no cancer cells or ones indicating an infection. I turned to doing my own research and now I am wondering if it is the beginning stages of SLO. I wanted to ask you if you had tried zinc for his nails at all and if there was any improvement, or even supplementing with iron? Also have you tried curcumin, it is the miracle in tumeric, but you can buy curcumin with bioperine. (not to be confused with cumin) I am going to start taking it and start my boy on it tonight, there are many articles about curcumin on line, it is wonderful in reducing inflammation as well as fighting tumors. Let me know your thoughts! Thanks so much! :) -Jen & my Shepherd Auggie :)

    • Mom says:

      Hi Jenni,

      I’ve not heard of the remedies you mentioned used in conjunction with SLO other than possibly zinc which I’ve not tried myself. I’m using turmeric and pepper for Nissa’s cancer along with IP-6. SLO is not a tumor but I can’t say it won’t help and it shouldn’t hurt your dog.

      You might want to click over to and join the Yahoo SLO Dogs group and ask your questions and give your input there. You’ll get some good answers and feedback! Best of luck with your boy, it does sound like it very well may be SLO especially if his nails are cracking and lifting leaving the quick exposed.

    • Jolene says:

      Hi, I’m glad I found this website, my 2 year old border collie / retriever mix. I believe has this, our vet agrees and started Webster on steroids, antibiotics.. He just wants to lay around all day.. And today I brushed him and an unbelievable amount of hair came off. Anyone have that as part of it?

      • Mom says:

        Hi Jolene,

        I’m sorry to hear about Webster and hope he gets better soon. I suggest you hook up with the Yahoo Group called SLO Dogs, they are an excellent group with some great literature. From what you’ve said your dog is not on a full treatment program and you can learn more about the protocol(s) from the group. He’s laying around all day like Riley did because he’s in so much pain.

        As for your question, I personally have not nor have I heard of hair loss being a symptom of SLO. I’d be looking for other causes. SLO is an autoimmune disease which means your dog may currently have other autoimmune conditions or may suffer them in the future so it’s a good idea to research autoimmune diseases in dogs so you can familiarize yourself with the various ailments in case your dog starts to display symptoms.

        What I’d do is to visit the vet to find out if he sees anything obvious and would definitely have his thyroid levels checked. Loss of hair is a symptom of hypothyroidism and if left untreated can become very serious. Your Webster is young for this but all three of mine were young when diagnosed with hypothyroidism and I don’t believe there’s any age discrimination. It can be a very hideous disease. If you find your dog has it you may wish to read The Canine Thyroid Epidemic by Dr. Jean Dodds who’s considered the leader in canine hypothyroidism. You can also visit her Hemopet website.

        At the same time I’d be looking at what I’m feeding my dog. A poor diet can lead to many serious ailments including loss of hair from being allergic to what your dog is eating.

        Best of luck to you and Webster!

    • Paula Harmer says:

      Hello, my dog has SLO. We started with it in March of his year and although he has lost fourteen nails, we got at it very quickly, after the second nail, and have it well under control. Don’t faff about with turmeric…..this is an auto immune disease. The research is clear in stating there is a recognised way of dealing with it, which only seems effective if you do it ALL.
      Here’s what we have as our routine….
      First he had a big dose of steroids and tetracycline. Now the steroids are reduced to three a week, eventually to be stopped altogether. The tetracycline will continue for at least a year.
      In addition to these, we have niacinamide, biotin, flax oil, coconut oil, gelatin added to food.
      The improvement in his condition is remarkable. Nails are rev rowing and look healthy, no nail bed infection, no pain. Time will tell of course.

  9. Hey Mom,

    I came upon this page as I’m writing my blog post for this week on Common Mistakes Around Titer Testing (title yet to be determined, but it’ll appear here, when it’s published in a bit: http://vitalanimal.com/blog/).

    I thought it worth pointing out that homeopathy, carefully prescribed with a professional’s help, can very likely cure this condition. The relationship of vaccinations and nail disease has been known for at least a couple of centuries. You’re on the right track in seeing the connection there.

    As in all chronic diseases, that treatment will be different for each individual who has their own unique response to the illness. And, as in all chronic disease, it will be a process that takes time and careful attention to detail to reach cure.

    As this is not DIY, it’s important to enlist a veterinary homeopath to steer the course to cure. My Recommended Resources page (http://vitalanimal.com/recommended-resources/) has a on it from the AVH, Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy, a certifying body of veterinarians who practice this natural medicine. For best results, as you consult the list, seek out those members who 1. Practice mostly or only homeopathy and 2. Have taken the time and effort to become Certified Veterinary Homeopaths.

    Also, know that having a homeopathic vet in your vicinity is not necessary to get your dog cured of this. We know there aren’t yet enough of us to go around, so many of us offer appointments via telephone or Skype.

    All the best to you and all of your readers who have dogs suffering from SLO. Homeopathy can very likely cure it, in the hands of an accomplished prescriber.

    Now, back to my writing!

  10. Michelle says:

    Thank you so much for the wonderful information on SLO. My Min Pin was just diagnosed and I suspected over vaccination as a trigger. I may never know, but at least I have found some information her that supports my theory. Unlike German Shepherds, Min Pins are TINY and the same amount of vaccine is given to small dogs that is given to large dogs. I hate to think that I did this to her! ;( I also found your comments about probiotics very helpful as the Doxy has been upsetting her stomach and she’s not really eating very much, which is very UNLIKE her. I am going to add the probiotics and see if this helps. I used to give her Greek non-fact yogurt with PB but stopped because I read (on your blog) to avoid dairy while she is on the Doxy.

    Finally, I was very glad to read your update on Pentoxifylline. My vet prescribed this and she is NOT tolerating it. She throws it back up within 10 minutes of any dose, even when mixed with food. Since she already on the Niacinamide, it seems like this is overkill. Besides, there is ZERO use in giving her something she can’t keep down.

    Thank you so much for the detailed information. It seems your blog provides more information and rationale than some of the vet sites and even the support group for dogs with SLO.

    Much appreciated!

    • Mom says:

      Hi Michelle,

      Thank you for your compliments, it’s nice to hear that you find our site so helpful. I’m sorry to hear of your pup’s SLO and that she’s not tolerating medications well.

      The niacinamide works *with* the doxy which is why both are needed. Not sure about using it with the penty. Riley has not had another flare up since his initial bout with active SLO so I’m behind in keeping up to date. I’d like to suggest you join the Yahoo Group SLO Dogs as they always seem to have the most updated info and are more than willing to share. There is bound to be someone in the group who can give suggestions to help with your issues no matter what they are. Very knowledgeable and helpful group!

      Keep in mind that probiotics are an individual thing. Some work for some dogs and don’t for others. My vet just recently told me it’s a hit & miss thing to find the one that works for your dog. Riley has been on this version of Fido-Vite for like a year now for his IBD and it works wonders for him. I’m not fond of the powder because it can be messy so I tried a VetriSCIENCE chewable and he threw that up a few hours later and I’d only given him 1/2 a dose for starters. On the Fido-Vite he’s IBD symptom free. Gracie takes the VetriSCIENCE and keeps it down just fine. I just didn’t want to have to throw $38 worth of product away so I’ll give the VetriSCIENCE to Gracie until it’s gone then put her back on the Fido-Vite. As a bonus it’s amazing how soft my dog’s coats are on since they went on Fido-Vite!

      What seems odd about this is that because of the powder mess I contacted the Fido-Vite people to ask if they were considering making chewables and they replied that they would never do this because to make chewable tabs requires heating the product which then kills off the good probies … ok so now I’m wondering about the VetriSCIENCE chewables — am I giving Gracie “empty” probies???

      As for the pentoxifylline — because Riley should not be on doxy due to it potentially being harsh on the liver, if he ever goes into an active flare we are probably going to have to at least TRY the penty unless something else effective comes out between now and then. People are getting excellent results from it with very few dogs experiencing negative side effects. The dogs that experience the hyper-caffeine effects so far that I can see are few and far between. I learned this at SLO Dogs.

      Best of luck with your dog & SLO!

  11. Marianne says:


    I noticed my dogs nails were split up the back, like a straw about a week ago. He had a nail bed infection (yeast) on one toe the end of May (vet gave antibiotics and remidyl) and then another on another toe on a different foot three weeks later (vet gave topicals). I googled split nails and saw this site. We are just back from the dermo and she says it is likely SLO, but she has never seen a case this early a stage, all his nails are split up the back but nothing broken off or lifting and he doesn’t seem to be in any pain. She said we could start with just the salmon oil for two months and see how it goes (could be food related).. Or go the whole way and do salmon oil, doxy and niacinamide for two months. I thought it best to do the whole treatment protocol in the hopes it never gets worse than it is now. I’m not a fan of antibiotics and the vet mentioned in a small amount of dogs there could be liver damage… Now I’m nervous to star the antibiotics. Does anyone have any experience with that? He is only 4 and a half years old.

    • Mom says:

      Hi Marianne,

      I’m so sorry to hear about your pup and hope you get things under control quickly. Remember, dogs are *very* good at hiding pain from humans, it’s one of their instincts and of course this makes it difficult to know for sure. As a better “safe than sorry” approach I would not assume that your dog is not in pain but rather that he’s hiding it well. If you’re keeping his nails short this will help alleviate pain which would mean maybe it’s not so bad after all.

      Your vet is correct that some dogs do experience liver problems from antibiotics but I don’t know the stat numbers. Two years ago when Riley went on doxy for his SLO the derm vets said it would be for life which I didn’t like one bit but on the other hand I could not let him suffer with SLO either. I didn’t learn until later that there’s two schools of thought on this. One being a “lifer” the other being only long enough to get into remission then the antib’s are weaned off and after that most dogs do absolutely fine on the supplements alone. There are some tough cases of dogs that can’t hold a remission but this is supposed to be a low number.

      Riley experienced elevated liver enzymes during the time he was on doxy. We haven’t had a new liver panel done yet but when it is, I’m fairly certain that unless something else is affecting his liver that he will be back to normal. Remember, the liver is one of those magic body organs that regenerates itself if it’s damaged. Of course, Riley is just one dog of the way too many that are suffering with SLO and the numbers are growing daily it seems.

      I think what needs to happen is for you to prioritize things at this point. You can go with the what-if’s of putting him on doxy and decline to use it or you can go with treating his SLO making sure to have your vet monitor his liver functions closely. Assuming he’ll go into remission within 4-6 months as most dogs do, you can then take him off the doxy but keep him on the supps for life.

      Best of luck!

  12. Sybil says:

    My dog is going in Monday for a biopsy to confirm SLO. I am almost certain without it that this is what she has. My vet steered us away from all of the medicinal/homeopathic treatment I see here in your blog. He recommended for us to have her declawed. I don’t see ANY reference to that here and am wondering if you had ever heard of such a thing. He sited that the steroids and meds would cause more side effects than they are worth and that she would be “cured” if we declawed her. Thank you in advance for taking the time to educate us all.

    • Mom says:

      Hi Sybil,

      In short … you need a new vet! His outlook and way of going about things is barbaric and there is a very good chance you will not only put your dog in permanent pain but cripple her as well. If your dog has the symptoms of SLO it’s typically not necessary nor recommended to go for a biopsy. SLO is has very specific symptoms and there is nothing else it can be. I get that directly from not only the derm vet (U.W. Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Madison, WI) our GP vet consulted with but from other sources as well.

      Ever looked up what it’s *really* like to declaw a cat? Did you know there are many many vets that won’t even perform this surgery any more because it’s been found to be inhumane? Declawing your dog is the same procedure and a biopsy is also the same procedure. I suggest you read What You Need to Know about Declawing and Declawing Cats Pros and Cons and you’ll see why declawing your dog is not the recommended way to go.

      The protocol for SLO doesn’t necessarily include steroids (I believe they *may* be tried on a hard to control case but don’t quote me) but it does include antibiotics at least until the flare up is completely gone and then a few weeks/months after that. After that most dogs do just fine on supplements alone controlling their SLO. Many people are having great success with pentoxifylline which we will go with should we ever need to put Riley back on prescription meds. He was on doxycycline, but that can damage the liver and with his other medical conditions our new vet wanted him off it. Currently he’s on the supplements only and has not had a recurrence since his first flare up two years ago this month.

      If I were you, I’d be canceling that biopsy so fast it would make your head spin, and then click on over to Yahoo and join the SLO Dogs group there. You will learn so much from this group and they are very helpful with answering questions as well. I don’t think you’ll find one single person in the group that will agree with your vet. If he’s this extreme in his tactics and beliefs there’s no way I’d want him anywhere near my dogs for any reason whatsoever. I shudder to think how many dogs he may have already performed a biopsy on and how many he will in the future and it breaks my heart to think of what he’s putting these poor babies through for no reason whatsoever. This was something I actually thought of for Riley and when I brought it up our then vet told me she would not recommend it and also told me the truth about declawing which literally made my skin crawl.

      Please, for your dog’s sake think really hard before going along with your vet’s recommendation. I kid you not he’s way off base, but you don’t have to take my word for it, you can join the SLO group and ask them for their input. You won’t find a better resource for this hideous disease than this group. Here is a link to the group’s website.

      • Sybil says:

        Thank you again for your quick reply. I found the link to the yahoo group in one of your other responses and have been digging through it all day. This derm vet was booked until SEPT! But after hearing me out they squeezed us in just two weeks from now. I will keep you posted! THANKS!!!!!!!

        • Mom says:

          You’re very welcome, I’m happy to hear you canceled the biopsy. This is all heartwarming news, thanks for letting us all know and looking forward to the update(s). In the mean time you can start the supps and the epsom salts soaks. Best of luck!

    • Sybil says:

      Since my post, I have cancelled the biopsy and made an appointment with a dermatology vet for another opinion…..

    • Paula Harmer says:

      Oh no…..this is awful! Please, please change vet. The biopsy wS unnecessary and declawing is absolutely not the way to go. What a moron your vet is!

  13. Lois Budrose says:

    I’m reeling from the realization that my 3 year old lab most likely has slo. After 3 vets were stymied, the 4th pointed me in this direction and although devastated at the news, relieved that we now have an idea and a plan as to what’s going in here. I devoured your website, astonished at the large numbers who have and are enduring this terribly painful medical issue for and with their dogs. My very active, playful and energetic 3 year old who used to follow me everywhere, now prefers to sleep the day away and although always starts walks with hopeful anticipation, soon tires and wants to sit down. I know you have all shared my heartbreak. Thanks for sharing with me. Its’ going to be a long road, we are just starting, maybe we can catch it early and turn it round. He’s lost one nail and has two more on their way out. All in a matter of 3 weeks and after his annual vaccination shots. hmmmmm.

    • Mom says:

      Hi Lois,

      I commend you for persevering to find the source of your boy’s problem. I hope you have success with the protocol in getting him into remission. Thanks for stopping by, feel free to stop by any time. When you come back let us know how your boy’s doing please.

  14. Ginger's Mom says:

    My mystery Shepherd-Lab mix was diagnosed with SLO last year. It went into remission and returned this spring (2015). I find it interesting that like EPI (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficency), SLO is common in GSDs. Ginger was diagnosed with EPI in 2008 & doing well. EPI information can be found at http://www.epi4dogs.com, and is a charitable and research group.

    When Ginger was diagnosed with SLO, I contacted the wonderful woman who has dedicated her life to EPI awareness and she had only heard of two other dogs with EPI and SLO. I’m wondering if there are more cases.

    Trish aka Ginger’s Mom

    • Mom says:

      Hi Ginger’s Mom,

      I’m only very slightly familiar with EPI so don’t know about the two diseases together is common nor do I know how common EPI is or what triggers it, but you can bet your sweet bippy there are many many (toooo many!) dogs with SLO and unfortunately the count keeps going up. There is more than one way a dog can get SLO but in my personal opinion over-vaccinating is huge and contributes greatly to the number of dogs that both have and continue to suffer with SLO.

      My suggestion is that everyone read my article Learn Before You Poke your dogs with unnecessary vaccines and look seriously at titer testing your furkids before any vaccines are given. Mine is not the only article on this topic so I also feel researching this is something all dog owners should do. You can help save your dogs from the pain and suffering of SLO.

      If your dog already has SLO, I urge you to click over to Yahoo and join their SLO Dogs group, they are FABULOUS!

  15. ld says:

    I have lupus, which is humans slo, and my shepherd, jaedon has slo. He is treated with steroids, not antibiotics. He began antibiotics during his extreme flare up, once in remission he is on steroids only. He does get vitamin e, and fish oil to help his nails grow, doesn’t aid in healing slo. Now, after almost a year of diagnosis I notice his breath is really bad, not like dental bad breath, this smells like he’s rotting inside, as he pants it feels the whole huge room with odor! His pant has increased too, I assume this may be due to steroids? I’m more concerned with his breath though, it is rotted smelling, and wondered if it’s from chewing nails off thus taking in blood? So could it be the blood intake making his breath smell so rotten, for it smells like his nail beds do when he’s chewing them, but at a four times stronger rate! It’s really really bad!

    • Mom says:

      Hi Id,

      Our dogs have been on salmon oil and vitamin e for years and we’ve not had any problems with breath odor except for a short time after Sardine Sunday where they have either sardines, salmon or mackeral but it clears up within about 15 minutes or so. I’d get him to the vet and find out about the breath issues. Could be he simply needs a good teeth cleaning or there may be other issues or maybe the steroids do this, I don’t know. Either way, I think it needs to be checked, it sounds like it could be serious. You might also have a good hard look at what you’re feeding him. You might be looking at a problem that’s a combination of things or one thing that’s serious and needs attention.

      As for the panting, steroids tend to make a body feel warmer than usual. The steroids would probably be my first thought but again I would have him checked by the vet. I really don’t think it’s a good idea to keep him on steroids long term, they have some nasty side effects. There are other medications besides steroids for SLO that would likely have less side effects and better/safer for your pup. You might want to research Pentoxifylline, there are many people using this for SLO now with excellent results.

  16. Paula Harmer says:

    Well, my dog has been diagnosed with SLO last week. I must say things have moved very fast, in part due to you…..thank you. I posted on FB that he had a dew claw I jury, which had bled loads and scared me. Two weeks later I was posting a second I jury, same paw, with a nail that had gone up off the quick like a car bonnet. That day someone messaged me to say I should look up SLO, which I did. That’s when I came to your page. I tried to find ways to prove he had NOT got this nasty painful thing, but I was fooling myself and it became clear he had. I whipped him to the chief vet, who said he didn’t need to look beyond o e paw as it was so clear.y SLO. So, he’s on a steroid, tetracycline, stomach settler to help with the steroid, niacinamide, an oil mix of evening primrose, wheat germ, cod liver and salmon oils, biotin, echinacea and jelly cubes. He’s had that lot for a week and this afternoon is our second visit to the vet. He’s tolerating it all well, but is drinking and peeing for England, because of the steroid. His feet seem less painful and the discharge round the nail beds seems clearer. One paw is horrid though. He’s lost a dew claw and a nail from that paw and another is clear.y on its way. The pad under the name has a split near the nail bed, the nail is lifting up. Three days ago he was crying if I went near it, which he isn’t now, so that’s something. His coat is lovely as a result of all the oils and supplements! As with you, we are learning as we go and I just hope to manage it with minimum pain for Bertie.
    What I will say is that all this started after a booster…….
    Thank you, your page has helped tremendously and I will keep looking.at it.

    • Mom says:

      Hi Paula,

      First let me say I’m sorry to hear your pup is suffering from SLO and we wish him as speedy a recovery as possible. I’m so glad we were able to help you and it’s so nice of you to let us know, thank you!

      Deb & the FurKids

  17. Amanda says:


    My little dog had been diagnosed with SLO about 4 years ago. She is JRT/chihuahau. Vet suggested Doxy, an antibiotic and niacinamide to start with. If that works she would need to be on it for life. I was very upset, I have always been inclined to use natural alternatives if possible, and was concerned about her being on meds for life.

    So I followed up with an animal naturopath and had great success. After my dog went through the initial stages of discomfort and nails sloughing things slowly improved. Her case didn’t seem as bad as some of the ones mentioned here. She actually didn’t ever get a bleeding nail, just the sloughing, licking, biting the nails off and very sensitive nails. She didn’t every find it too painful to walk or run. Her nails are now fine – no further problems apart from a deformed shape which tend to curl toward the paw pad making them very hard to trim.

    I also believe that dogs are over vaccinated and since then have not given my dog any further vaccinations. I will not for the rest of her life. I also think there is a link when SLO occurs as well as other diseases as some have mentioned, seizures also.

    The naturopath used homeopathy to detox, although this was done too fast at first as she is such a small dog and very sensitive and she developed anal gland cysts. She recommended to not use commercial foods (which I had previously stopped due to an allergy anyway). We went over her whole diet and fine tuned it a little. Raw meats and bones – rabbits particularly good as they are not given lots of medications as part of the typical farming practices. A powder supplement which is added to the food – I can’t remember the name of it at the moment. It is basically made up of dried food products, nothing synthetic. A less processed form of supplement than capsules and tablet form etc. It was green in colour. Also fish oils added to the diet in the form of capsules but also bought sardines and whitebait to feed her. I seared these lightly on either side as she often did not eat them if raw. I did try a probiotic sporadically, but never managed to give it regularly.

    I have since learnt a lot more about nutrition and have adjusted things a little more according to my knowledge. I have no need for processed supplements and probiotics anymore and use fresh foods for everything, all raw.

    I have also learnt that these types of disease are actually from the body trying to detox . Often particularly from vaccines as they are full of industrial chemicals, also from toxins in processed pet foods etc and various other sources. It is better to support the body through these detoxes as best you can and give nutrition to help rebuild tissues afterwards. Raw meat and bones are much better for rebuilding than cooked and processed. I get lots of chicken frames from my butcher – they are so cheap as they are normally just thrown out and wasted anyway. I do get rabbit every now and then but these are expensive – strangely enough.

    She hasn’t really had any flare ups at all after the initial stage apart from occasional licking of a nail for a couple days. No further sloughing at all.

    • Mom says:

      Thanks so much for all the info, Amanda! It’s great to hear your pup’s not had any additional flare ups, that’s great!

      We are slowly removing the doxy from Riley’s SLO routine. There are at least two schools of thought on this. Doxy for life and doxy only when necessary but that’s a very brief comment in the whole picture. I didn’t want him on doxy for life but originally was told that’s what he needed. I learned later on that not only can the doxy badly effect the liver but that more dogs than not do absolutely fine on the supplement portion of the routine so that’s where we’re moving to. He’ll be totally off doxy in about a week or so. Yay! If he can hold a remission he won’t have to have it again, at least not for his SLO.

      Thanks again for sharing!

  18. Meg says:


    My little guy has just been diagnosed with SLO. I’m just wondering if you have any suggestions on actually giving all these tablets to my dog. He has been prescribed Doxydog, Nicotinamide, Biotin, Vit E and Omega plus the probiotic powder. I also worry about him being on antibiotics for the rest of his life as he is not even two. Thanks for the blog and all the info.

    • Mom says:

      Well, I wouldn’t do them all at once, one at a time is how I do it (ok with the doxy it’s both pills at once because they’re small) and I recently found that 100% pumpkin works great. NOT pumpkin pie filling, 100% pumpkin. Scoop some on the spoon, stick a pill in it and it pretty much slides down their throats. Get enough pumpkin on the spoon so they can’t feel the pills.

      There are at least two schools of thought on keeping them on doxy for life. We have so far but because it can damage the liver we’ll be weaning Riley off the doxy in a couple of weeks. He had a supplement change and it’s best to change only one thing at a time spaced out.

  19. Tibor says:

    Thank you for these very deep informations, all comments are also very helpful.
    I have Labrador Retriever (field trial line) who had diagnosed SLO last year. We trained so much in the hard grounds so when he lost first nail during training I don’t think very much about it, just take care about secondary things. The second one was after 3 weeks, again during training. It was strange, but same again and I started to be more carefull. At that time I realized, that licking front paws isn’t usual and when he lost third claw short time after second I started immediatelly doing something. My vet was curious, because he didn’t saw anything like this. Soon he found some informations, consult with dermatologists and we decided biopsy from fifth side claw. We started giving ATB (doxy), two times of maximal daily usage of fatty oils (I choosed salmon oil with combination of hemp oil) and vit. E. I think, our problem started after vaccination too, because it was aprox. 2 months before. He got anti rabbies + combine vaccine against infectious disseases (wasn’t good idea at all).
    Over three months period my dog lost all nails, one by one.If split was happened I visit vet and removed whole nail. Yeah, it was really painful but my dog fully trust me and we was able getting over this times together relative fine. Then during next 3 months nails regrowing little bit, after 8 months all was more or less back. Yeah, poor quality and all that things, but all the time I hoping once we will be able working together again. At the beggining of this year I started training with him little bit, on easy grounds and it looks fine. After regrowing he never had problem with walking or running, so I trained more and more in harders ground. Always I’m used before training (or time to time during recovery phase) nail polisher – two layers. I choose one without formaldehyde and toluene, relative good water resistant. Now we are back from very hard weekend when we went to Dummy trial and then trained whole another day at hard grounds – snow, cold, melted snow, mud and things like this. I’m checking always very carefully all nails often and I can’t see any hard damage. I was so happy, because we are able really working again without limitations, but I know, only until imunity doesn’t start fighting against nails again…

    Well, so sorry for all dog owners with SLO, I know what hard it is. But I wanna share some possitive progress with us and I wish all of you good luck and don’t stop hoping.

    (sorry for my poor english)

    • Mom says:

      Hi Tibor,

      This is a wonderful success story, we’re very happy for you. Thank you for giving people and their SLO dogs some light at the end of the tunnel.

  20. Patrice says:

    If you folks haven’t found it already, you might want to join the SLODogs yahoo group. It is a treasure chest of experience with SLO and all its many treatment regimens. //groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/SLOdogs/info

    In addition to talking about the various treatment choices, folks talk about whether or not their dogs have gone into remission, using foot soaks to ease pain, other pain management techniques, the inadvisability of biopsies to diagnose SLO, consulting veterinary dermatologists, quality of life, whether or not to let the dog lick his feet, whether or not to bandage a dog’s foot, whether or not to have a vet remove broken nails, all kinds of discussion topics.

    Like Riley’s mom, I’ve written quite a bit about my dog’s SLO. One of my web pages catalogs my own articles, plus many scholarly articles, and articles written by folks whose dogs have SLO. Quite a few have useful photos. https://patricedodd.wordpress.com/slo/

  21. Lynne says:

    Hi, been reading all the comments on here,So helpful ,thank you.my Lurcher girl as had SLO since having vaccines 2yrs ago lost all nails first time then second nails,now looses them one here and one there,after first vaccines we nearly lost her she was so ill.but with treatment and lots of love and care she is doing really well .will be on treatment for life as i think they all will be .She was in very poor health when we rescued her and now i know that This dog should never had her vaccines as her immune sytem must have been really low(And the vet should have known this) anyhow to now cut a long story short she has today i have noticed also got a mottled nose and seems to have weepy eyes,maybe this is part of immune system doing this.just wondered if anyone elses dog gets this? we will be keeping a very close eye on this .but very worried about it Sasha is very well in her self and eating well in fact she is the best she as been for a year or more.But just wonder about this new thing now Thanks Lynne…

    • Mom says:

      Hi Lynne,

      Thanks you for adopting your girl and providing a good loving home for her.

      If she were mine, I’d head back to the vet and find out what’s going on with the other issues. I can’t say if they’re related to her autoimmune conditions or not. The weepy eyes could be allergies. Another possibility I’m aware of is Pannus which is another autoimmune disease and which our Gracie has and it causes blindness. It’s also for life, but with the drops the eye specialist put her on she no longer has the weepy eyes and her vision went from being about 50% sighted to nearly 100% sighted.

      Best of luck to you, and hope your sweetie is feeling better!

  22. Katie says:

    My 1.5 year old husky, lab, and possible shepherd mix was just diagnosed with SLO from his vet. She put him on an antibiotic for 2 weeks, along with fish oil, and vitamin E. She also recommended he go to a dermatologist vet since she is unfamiliar with the disease. What do you believe the best steps are with him being so young I fear a life of pain for him. Currently he doesn’t seem in much pain beside constant licking. He has had 2 nails removed, one fell off today, and the majority of the others are brittle. Dermatologist vets seem greatly expensive!

    • Mom says:

      Hi Katie,

      I think your vet was right on target with recommending you get your pup to a derm vet, they are the ones who are most knowledgeable on SLO. I give your vet a lot of credit for being the kind of vet who knows her limitations and cares enough to give you some good advice for the good of your pup. Some vets aren’t that open minded. Thumbs up to your vet!

      A dog licking a wound means they are at least in discomfort if not serious pain. I can pretty much guarantee you that an active episode of SLO means he’s in serious pain. Dogs are experts at hiding pain, it’s an instinctual survival skill for them. Don’t be fooled into thinking otherwise.

      I don’t know how expensive derm vets are, we never had to visit one because our local vet consulted with the derm vets and then just followed their instructions. I’d venture to say derm vets are more costly than your a local veterinarian and some of this is dependent on where you live as vet costs are regional. A New York vet is more costly than a small town vet in the mid-west, which pretty much goes without saying.

      I think the fact that your vet prescribed just two weeks of anti-b’s was to give you time to get your pup to a derm vet. He probably needs a longer course of anti-b’s. Riley is at this point in time still on doxy for the rest of his life. I would suggest you read all the posts here on our blog and also join the SLO group over at Yahoo. They are really great, helpful people there, very experienced with SLO, some members have multiple dogs with SLO.

      Not meaning to sound harsh but I have to be honest — if you want your pup to have the best chance to not experience another SLO episode you need to find a way to handle the veterinary, medication and supps costs. At our house no matter what’s wrong with our dogs we have the “damn the cost” view point and that will continue forever. Our dogs are like our kids, if it were our kids suffering we would not let cost get in our way. I’m not saying everyone else should be like us although it would be nice for their dogs if they were. People who know us think we’re absolute lunatics for the money we spend on vet costs for our dogs, we disagree. We have been able to give Riley at this point in time over 3 more years of a good life with us after he was diagnosed with hip dysplasia when he was 5 years old. He’s 8 and 1/2 now and if I added up all we’ve spent on his medical bills and gave you that figure I pretty much guarantee it would be staggering and you might think we we’ve lost our minds. For example removing his spleen last summer between the diagnosis, spleen surgery and follow up care as of now exceeds $12,000 and he still goes for checkups every couple of months. His hips including FHO surgery, chiropractic and hydro-therapy ran us about $7,000 … I’ll stop there because I can see all your jaws dropping from here. We lovingly call him our Six Million Dollar Dog and figure he’s bound and determined to spend all 6 million before he leaves this world. We don’t care, we find a way to handle it. What he gives to us is worth more than money can buy therefore HE IS WORTH EVERY PENNY.

      Two of the biggest helps with vet costs for us have been our Care Credit card and pet insurance which we carry on all three dogs. Now, your boy’s SLO would not be covered under any pet insurance because it is now a pre-existing condition. But your boy is part shep and he’s a big dog breed mix. The bigger the dog the bigger the vet bills is usually the case not to mention that sheps are literally at the top of the list for dog breeds with the most medical issues. So, just keep that in mind because I speak the truth and we are proof positive. Care Credit gives you six months to pay interest free for any billed amount over $200. Our pet insurance averages $45 a month here for each dog. Riley’s antibiotics are $40 a month of which I get back $32.00 each prescription. Every time I receive a reimbursement check (which typically arrives within 5-10 days after submission) I put it directly on the Care Credit bill. Pet insurance does not cover 100% but it’s a darn sight better than having to cover everything ourselves. My suggestion is to get both the Care Credit card and pet insurance but be choosy about the pet insurance you get as some are much better than others. If these are not an option for you, you might want to read my article on paying for emergency vet care.

      I hope this all helps and our best to you and your boy!

  23. Brenda says:

    I have a 9 year old 70lb dog that was diagnosed with SLO quite a few years ago. I tried the standard veterinary protocol of antibiotics, niacinamide and fish oil but they were no help whatsoever. After much searching I came across a comment by someone that a vet in Australia recommended using Yucca schidigera. Its been absolutely amazing.

    At first I gave her 1 capsule a day (520 mg from yucca stalk) five days on, two off. Yucca can cause stomach upset if used too often so I always gave her a break. The pain stopped entirely after a few days and shortly after she sloughed off a few toenails. I kept her on it for the first summer, her symptoms always seemed to fade off in the winter. Every year I’ve needed less and am now to the point that that I just watch for lameness, licking or not wanting to go for a walk and then give her pills for a few days. the offending nail will generally stop hurting within a day and she’ll pull it off a couple days later. Yucca has truly been a lifesaver for her. I’m surprised that I seldom see it mentioned as an alternative treatment, especially as yucca is now showing up as an ingredient in a lot of dried pet foods, though I doubt theres enough in there to be of any help.

    I just wanted to put that out there, I know how frustrated and helpless you can feel when your dog has this nasty disease. I hope this helps someone else.

    • Mom says:

      Hi Brenda,

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience! Some dog’s systems really do not respond well to the various protocols and Brenda kept trying until she found something that helps her dog, thanks for caring about your pup so much, Brenda.

      In good conscious and because we are not vets here, legally I do have to warn everyone to not just try Brenda’s approach without consulting with your vet first. Just like anything else, what works for Brenda’s dog may not work for yours. If you try this we’d appreciate hearing from you as to how it worked for your dog’s SLO. The more things we find that help them, the better off they are!

      Doesn’t Yucca also come as a gel kind of thing? I’m wondering if applying it to their nails might be helpful? Kind of like applying aloe to a burn is where I’m going with this. Did you try that Brenda or do you have any comments on that?

      • Brenda says:

        I’ve never seen yucca available in a gel form. I would think they might just lick it off? I’ve found it in a lot of arthritis formulas but its getting hard to find just the herb in Canada, not sure why, disinterest possibly. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory, I believe that’s why it works with the slo, and why its used for arthritis as well. It contains saponins that can irritate the stomach if given too often, they kind of scrub it too clean. but I’ve never had any problem using it 5 days on, 2 off. My husband also uses it that way when his aches get bad, he finds it works quite well. Squeak’s nails have been so much better the last few years, I only gave her a pill once for a few days this winter.

        I found the vet wasn’t a lot of help, I basically took her in all my information and asked if she thought it was slo. She did some research and agreed that was the correct diagnosis, then we tried the standard protocol. When that didn’t work she put her on prednisone, but Squeak was very uncomfortable, hot and panting, drank a lot, and quickly developed a pot bellied appearance. I took her off it over a couple of weeks and the vet had nothing else to offer. That’s when I began my search for something natural to help.

        • Mom says:

          Hi Brenda,

          Thanks for responding! I have to agree and don’t know where my head was, of course they’re going to lick a gel off. I’m concerned that Riley wouldn’t tolerate it very well because of the tummy problems you mentioned so I’m really glad you brought that up.

          Unfortunately for all of us and especially for Riley, it looks like we’re in for another bout of SLO for him. We have one nail currently on it’s way off as of Friday and my poor boy is again in pain and licking like crazy. What’s strange is that this one nail is now suddenly black (like almost an overnight occurrence) and never had been since his nails grew back after his first round of SLO. All his other nails are still kind of a bone brown. My heart hurts for him and his pain.

          We just as of yesterday have a new vet and will be going to see her on Monday. She’s up on SLO and by phone already knows what she will probably prescribe for him but she has to see him first of course. I’m very excited because along with “regular” vet medicine she practices holistic medicine and I’ve been interested in that for awhile now. I’m very excited to meet her and begin learning some alternatives for our furkids. I’ll mention the Yucca to her, so your response timing is really good. Thank you again!

  24. Rita says:

    My 4 year old German Shepherd was recently diagnosed with SLO. He is on Cephalexin, salmon oil, vitamin E, Rimadyl and niacinamide. I read in one of your replies to someone else, that Cephalexin is not the antibiotic that he should be on. I had a hard enough time getting our vet to agree that our baby had SLO. He had never heard of it and didn’t take kindly at first to me self diagnosing my dog. He finally came around. When our Jethro’s nails were falling off, he was in so much pain and didn’t even want to get up and walk. He’d bleed all over everytime a nail fell off. The vet sedated him and removed the few nails he had left. Since surgery, his feet have healed and he’s the same dog he always was. How long does it take to grow his nails back? He lost his first nail in late November. I was told on another SLO site that the Vitamin E, Niacinamide and fish oil are forever, but that the other drugs will be taken as needed until he’s over the hump and his nails start growing back.

    • Mom says:

      Hi Rita,

      I’m so sorry to hear about your pup’s SLO. I’ll answer your questions the best I can.

      Riley is on Doxycycline and it’s my understanding doxy is the correct antibiotic. Antibiotics have different uses and doxy is to my knowledge the one that’s supposed to be the one for SLO.

      Our experience is that it takes longer for the nails to grow back after a bout with SLO than if a dog had just lost a nail by accident. At least that’s the way it was with Riley. What I thought odd about Riley but maybe not odd about SLO in general is that before he had his one and only flare up with SLO (thank gooodness!) we never had to trim his nails and now after the SLO we have to do this occasionally. Because of his SLO we are not comfortable trimming them ourselves so we do have the vet do it when it’s necessary. We just feel better if he’s “in the right place” should he start bleeding from a nail trim but you have to remember I’m a paranoid dog Mom so this is probably extreme to many folks.

      As for the meds and supps. There are two schools of thought on this as I understand it. Some believe it’s right to keep a dog on the anti-b’s and supps forever. Some believe in only keeping a dog on the supps after the flare up has gone into remission. I can’t say what’s right or wrong here, I can only tell you that so far we’ve opted to keep Riley on everything forever. I’m not saying that won’t change but at this point it’s what we’re doing. He hasn’t had a flare up since so we are going with the “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” approach. I’m too afraid to take him off the doxy and put him in the position that he might experience another flare up. He’s got other auto-immune conditions as well and one of the things I heard is that the idea behind keeping them on the right anti-b’s is a way of keeping a gentle preventative going and that’s supposed to help. Doxy is considered to be on the gentle side of anti-b’s and keeping him on them may prevent the need of having to put him on something stronger in the future.

      I’m glad you didn’t let your vet’s initial reaction to diagnosing your own dog get to you. Pro-active is the kind of pet Mom our dogs need! I would venture to say there’s a lot of vets that would not take kindly to a client diagnosing their dog’s medical issues and some are very closed minded about it so you’re lucky you were able to get through to your vet. The vet we had when Riley was diagnosed didn’t know about SLO, I diagnosed him myself, too and when she consulted with the derm vets they confirmed my diagnosis. She opened her mind and jumped right on things and followed their advice thank goodness.

      In my opinion a GP vet can only do so much, they have to spread themselves thin to try to cover all the bases and they’re only human. They cannot possibly know it all nor what to do about it especially when it comes to rare things like SLO which still is on the rare side of a GP vet’s book of knowledge. That’s why there are vet-specialists and why it’s important at least for us, to have a vet that’s open to learning new things and more than that, to have the mindset that if they don’t know what’s going on the pet owner might not be all thumbs, they might know what they’re talking about and to be open to consulting with the right specialist when what they’re seeing is not familiar to them.

  25. Megan says:

    Hello- thank you for sharing your story about Riley. Reading your experience has been so helpful.

    My 2 year old pup Jake just got diagnosed yesterday with SLO (without biopsy) and it is heartbreaking. The vet even suggested it could be possible that the SLO is masking something worse- perhaps an early indication or first indication of cancer.

    I have been reading this about Riley and have been hoping to see some sort of positive outcome, but I am sitting here in tears thinking about the pain my little one will face just with SLO alone.

    The cancer thing aside– this is the beginning of a long road for Jake and I, but at least it will be a long road.

    • Mom says:

      Hi Megan,

      First of all I’ve never heard of SLO progressing to cancer nor masking something else. From what I know of it, if a dog is going to get cancer he’s going to get cancer and SLO as I know it is not a contributing factor. Now, I’m not saying I can’t be wrong and maybe just never heard of this before, but for your sake and Jake’s please try not to project badness for him because he’s got SLO, you’ll only make life more heartbreaking for yourself and Jake will pick up on this.

      Riley is doing very well right now (has not had a recurrence) and so are many of the dogs mentioned in our discussion, it’s a painful disease but there is light ahead and once you find treatment that works for your Jake he will likely do just fine after he recovers from his flare-up. Riley has been through a LOT of health issues throughout his years and although each disease he suffers takes a little bit from him he bounces back and for an 8+ year old dog he is in pretty darn good shape! He’s a little slower than he used to be, doesn’t do any running but he still trots around … but aren’t we all as we get older? (wink!) To look at him you’d never know he’s over 8 years old and we feel the biggest reason for his overall appearance is the fact he’s been fed a raw diet for several years now and that I keep a good eye on him (and all our dogs) for anything that looks suspicious health-wise. If something crops up we’re sitting on the vets doorstep ASAP.

      Hang in there, things *will* get better! Hugs to you and Jake!

  26. Cindy Shealey says:

    Oh… and my nutrition advisor also suggested that Tessa not receive any more vaccines, as ONE could be fatal. We started tittering two years ago, but clearly that was too late… Tessa’s immune system was already compromised. Georgia accepts tittering on all but Rabies, but there is an exemption that can be obtained. Whatever it takes, I’ll get her, and my second Westie, the exemption, as long as they titter in the acceptable range.

  27. Cindy Shealey says:

    Thanks so much for posting all this valuable information. I believe my Tessa (12 year old Westie) first showed signs of SLO a year ago, but due to my ignorance, and my vet missing it, she suffered through the first bout. Now, about a year later, it has reared it’s head again, so I took to the internet to self-diagnose. Fortunately, I found this site. Her symptoms are casebook. We returned to the vet, who agreed that it COULD be SLO, and then said “there’s just not much to be done about it.”

    Oh, I disagree, I said. I’ve read that there’s quite a bit that can be done! I then recited the protocol that Riley is on, and the vet said “ok, we can try that if you want.” Well, I WANT!!!

    So now Tessa is on Doxy, Vit E, Niacinamide, Salmon Oil, probiotics, and Coconut Oil (because I believe it has incredible properties.) Also, my best nutrition advisor recommended a raw diet, so that the nutrients could be more properly absorbed, to give Tessa the best fighting-tools available.

    Thanks again for this very awesome site.

    Cindy Shealey
    Owned by Contessa Grace, 12 year old Westie

    • Mom says:

      Hi Cindy,

      I think it’s great that you educated your vet! I love it when people pass along information to their vets who aren’t educated on one thing or another. Hopefully, your vet will pursue what you’ve told him and learn more so he can help your Tess and other dogs.

      Love that you’re looking into going raw, too! Thumbs up, Girl and our best to you and Tessa!

  28. Cisco'sMom says:

    Thank you so much for publishing this information and providing a place to share the varied approaches to managing SLO. My heart goes out to every pet and pet parent dealing with this awful issue. Our experience is not much different than any of those shared so far. It started 1 week after his 3rd birthday and our lives stopped in time. All our focus had been on keeping him still to keep nails from popping off unnecessarily and that didn’t keep it from happening. We spent months wrapping paws, monitoring him to keep him from getting after the wrapped paws, putting on his ‘cone of shame’ to deter the licking and grabbing at bandages. You get the picture. We have been on the rounds of antibiotics, pain meds, the nail circulation meds, treated a few of the bad ones while under sedation to get some relief and steroids for months where our boy has gone from a lean, mean 80 lbs. to 135 lbs. Sad.

    Our vet has been awesome. She had treated one other dog in her experience with something similar and suspected it was SLO. She cried with us when we came back the second and third visit exhausted from no sleep and just heartbreak from watching our poor baby in misery.

    How things have changed. As of four weeks ago, we are now tapering him off of steroids and he hasn’t had a need for antibiotics in about 6 weeks. the nails are a bit rough looking but it seems to have turned around. 6 weeks ago we went to a pet expo in our town seeking out this supplement high is omega 3 & 6: Healthy Coat (http://www.healthycoat.net/#!pet/cjg9) I found it by combing the internet like you for any glimmer of hope to turn the situation around for our beautiful GSD. There is no claim for SLO but the idea is that the fatty acids we seek out in fish oils is formulated in this product for pets. I contacted them via their Facebook page and they confirmed that they had never heard of anyone using or seeking the formula for SLO, only for coat issues, but that the origin of product was equine supplement which was indicated for horses hooves, so ideally they hoped we could realize the effects we were seeking. There was nothing to lose. Coincidentally, (because there are so many factors of combined treatment along with the Healthy Coat supplement) we think we’ve turned the corner on the SLO symptoms.

    We watch him like a hawk and don’t over run him for fear of breaking nails, but we are looking forward to getting completely off the steroids so we can make our trips to dog park for hikes and play days again AND drop some of this weight he’s put on. Getting off the steroids will be a big factor since that is what is the main cause of piling on the weight. Not making a claim that the healthy coat is a cure or major factor in the improvements, but I think it can’t hurt. Side effect of the Healthy Coat supplement is since adding it to our dogs food (we also have an 11 yr old husky mix–lots of fur!!) neither of them have any noticeable shedding.

    Most of all, this weekend, our grandkids spent the weekend and have been in and out of the house playing ball with him which hasn’t happened in months! We are still cautious, especially since it’s winter and afraid that popping a nail could happen in the light snow. We just got our gallon size bottle of Healthy Coat yesterday to keep both our dogs on the supplement moving forward as well as taking our vets advice on keeping the SLO at bay, we hope.

    • Mom says:

      Hi Cisco’s Mom,

      Sounds like you have everything under control and your pup is doing well, that’s great news! I looked at the Healthy Coat website. Interesting that they sell a product but don’t make it obvious where to get it from or how much it costs. Nice side benefit the now low-level shedding, cool!

      That’s a lot of weight for a dog to put on so I hope you have good luck helping him lose it. Darn the steroid side effect, helps on one hand but gives your pup another problem, ugh.

      Our best to you and yours and hope things are on the mend for good!

  29. Jan says:

    RE: Baxley
    Baxley was diagnosed with SLO by his vet two years ago this Jan. He is in remission and has been for one year. We always get a bit scared when he licks his paws but so far, so good. The vet started him on Doxycycline, Niacinamide and fish oil. After trial and error, the fish oil was stopped as he did not tolerate it. Also, the vet was overdosing him on both the Doxy and Niacinamide. This was discovered after a visit to NC State Vet School here. Thank goodness. He did a short trial of steroids which was traumatic but we got through it. He has been on a grain free diet for one year and only the above meds once, three times a week. No reocccurences at this point. We rescued another dog and all is well. The vet school told us absolutely no Biotin but sorry, do not remember the reason. The SLO was horrible in the beginning and like a lot of you, I cried and got upset…no pet should suffer like that. But, hang in there all of you. It will get better. We are just praying he will stay healthy. We give him healthy treats made in America, as well and no people food at all. He gets exercise and lots of love and attention by us and his new brother. Good luck all.

    • Mom says:

      Hi Jan,

      Great to hear your Baxley responded so well to treatment! I’m sure everyone here is grateful for your encouraging words, thank you. Congrats on the new paws in the house!

  30. Chelsi says:

    Hello everyone.

    This morning we found one of our 2 yr old shepard/collie babies nails on the floor. It was hollow and just lying on the floor, no blood thankfully. But it immediately drove me to the internet and my boyfriend to our doggies toes.

    So far Ava looks alright, oddly enough all nails are accounted for (5 on each foot) even though one was on the floor. She doesn’t seem to be in pain either, no limping or bleeding, no toe licking, no troubles getting on and off the couches or bed. But one of her back nails we can lift up…
    I’m in a little bit of a nervous state. This is our first furbaby and I personally tend to over worry about things with furbabies.

    We’re going to make an appointment with our vet asap; was getting to it anyways for yearly vaccinations which I might reconsider now.

    I wanted to thank you for all the information you’ve put into this site. Reading over it is helping me quite a bit with my nerves.

    • Mom says:

      Hi Chelsi,

      We hope that your Ava just happened to loose a nail for whatever reason and that she’s not got SLO. Having gone through what we’ve been through with Riley and knowing what I know now the fact that she lost one *and* you an lift another would send me to the vet. Hopefully, you have one that’s SLO-educated, so many aren’t but the numbers are improving.

      UPDATED: I just saw the pic you sent … get her to the vet right away would be my suggestion. That is what SLO does to the nails.

      I’m glad we were able to calm your nerves and hope that you’ll let us know how things go. Take care and Happy Thanksgiving.

      • Chelsi says:

        Just sending some updates on Ava.

        My boyfriend took her to the vet last week and she told us that she thinks Ava just broke the nail somehow. I’ve been keeping an eye on her still but so far so good.

        Unfortunately I didn’t go to the vet though because of work, and had to send my boyfriend with a list of questions so I’m not sure how much she knows about SLO. I know for sure though that we’ll be back there in a heartbeat if she loses more nails.

        Thank you for your response and I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving.

  31. Buddy's Mom says:

    I just found your website and it just breaks my heart. We live in WI and our Buddy was diagnosed with SLO in August. I made the mistake of making excuses for a broken nail here or there. I didn’t become scared until he lost 3 nails in about 12 hours. We have been treating with high levels of Omega 3 & 6 and of course the Vitamin E to stabilize the fish oil. We have switched Buddy over to Halo grain free spots stew surf and turf formula. Buddy is also taking biotin twice a day. We are on our second prescription medication round of treatment. Buddy did not respond at all to the first round of fish oil, E, B, biotin, doxy, and previcox. Buddy also has a non functioning thyroid which he takes thyroxine for twice daily. We do not know what the cause of the thyroid failure is. Buddy also has erratic seizures that we can not find a cause or trigger to. The vet recommended the dietary change because Buddy was not responding to the first treatment and studies have linked food allergies to SLO. We are week 1 into the second round of treatment. This time the vet is being a bit more aggressive. We have increased the dose of salmon oil, increased the E, biotin stayed the same, B was kept the same because he is on the highest dose possible, and the vet has introduced prednisone, tramadol, and ammoxocilin (sp). Removing the doxy and previcox. The antibiotics almost seem required at all times. Within a couple days of being off the doxy he had another nail bed infection. Before starting the second round of treatment I contacted the UW vet clinic and got a second opinion. After my vet and the UW collaborated they both agree on this being the recommended treatment option. However they both also instructed me that given Buddy’s age ( 9 years old ) and the fact that he did not respond to the first round of treatment, if he does not respond to this treatment, we need to consider putting him down. At his age and with his unexplained thyroid and seizure issue, this maybe too much for his body to effectively resond. Any and all advice is so very welcome. Also what is going to happen when it snows? walking in the snow I can only imagine is going to be torture on his painful feet.

    • Mom says:

      Hi Buddy’s Mom,

      Poor Buddy he’s really having a tough time of things. He’s lucky to have a vet who’s up on SLO and knows to change things up when one or another treatment doesn’t work. I hope you will see improvement soon so that you don’t have to go down the road to euthanasia.

      As I understand it in some instances food allergies can play a part in SLO. We stopped feeding commercial dog food 3-4 years ago and put our dogs on their raw diet and have never looked back. Perhaps if Buddy’s SLO is allergy related you might want to look into a raw diet for him. I have a couple articles on raw feeding you may wish to read listed below. We are so happy we went this route and have saved a ton in vet costs which definitely helps defray the cost of raw so it winds up not being any more expensive to feed a dog raw than it is to feed them commercial foods that wind up giving them ailments that cost money at the vet including the fact our dogs never need dental treatments.

      Here are the articles I referred to: What’s in your Dog’s Food Bowl and Venturing into RAW Feeding

      I don’t know why they’re saying his thyroid issues are unexplained, more than likely it’s genetics so there is an explanation for it. The seizures could be epilepsy which our Yorkie suffered from for 16 years, they could also be allergy related.

      I’m glad you decided on grain-free feeding as long as you’re feeding commercial dog food. I’m not seeing Halo on the Grade Your Dog Food lists but as I recall Halo is rather a new dog food produced by Ellen Degeneres so the fact it’s new is probably why it’s not on the list. However, looking at the ingredients … where’s the meat? I see chicken first which is good but then mostly vegetables, additives and chemicals. $44.00 for a 28 pound bag, kind of on the pricey side. Grain-free or not, I see things in the ingredients that makes me think he could be allergic to something in this food as well.

      Because SLO and hypothyroidism are auto-immune conditions I would read up on this as well to get a bigger picture on it and also remember that vaccinations can trigger SLO. Always remember that because Buddy is an auto-immune dog, there are other illnesses that may strike him that are auto-immune based and take precautions to prevent additional illnesses from being able to target Buddy.

      We feel that Riley’s SLO makes his feet more sensitive to cold and snow. As you know our WI winters can be brutal! If you are able to walk Buddy after he recovers I would watch him closely for signs of having had enough and take him home. Riley tells me when he wants to go home, if you pay attention you may find Buddy has a way of telling you as well. Riley noses my tummy when he wants to go home. When it’s frigid outside only allow him out long enough to do his business and only walk him on the milder days and try to keep him out of things like puddles and deep snow.

      Because Buddy is having such a tough time of things, I would like to see you become a member of the SLO group over at Yahoo. Just go over to Yahoo Groups and input symmetrical lupoid onychodystraphy in the Yahoo search and you will find the group. You likely will find more help and ideas there to get through this with your Buddy. Very experienced SLO people are members of this group.

      Our best wishes to you and Buddy and hope very much he comes out of this soon on his road to recovery.

  32. Ann says:

    Hi all,

    I have a 7 year old Boxer recently diagnosed with SLO, its been so good to know im not alone and to read your stories even the heartbreaking ones. Im still waiting for the light at the end of this painful tunnel but im sure we’ll get there together. I’d like to ask if anyone knows the significance of giving niacinamide and what it does for the dog because my girl is sick every time I give it to her, she seems to be reacting well to the rest of the treatment I just wonder if it is vital she has it and whayt its role is in the treatment cycle, I’d be grateful if someone could give me some info.
    Thanks Ann

    • Mom says:

      Hi Ann,

      I hope you make it to the light at the end of the tunnel soon, too and we welcome you to joins us hoping you find some comfort and support here. I strongly suggest you contact your vet about your girl’s reaction to the niacinamide. I can’t answer your question about the significance of it’s use, I just know it’s part of the treatment for the disease. Your vet would be better able to help you with this and if he/she doesn’t know I’d ask them to contact a dermatology vet to inquire. Best of luck to you and your sweetie.

  33. Elizabeth says:

    I can’t THANK you enough for your helpful information….your first post on Riley and the article you mentioned “Hells Nails” were the two I first came across weeks ago while scrambling to find out what was happening to my baby (a 2 year old rescue German Shepherd, Zues). I had spent the past 4 weeks at the vet, the first week getting his yearly exam and vaccines. (wish I had read your article before that.) Then the next 3 weeks because for some crazy reason my babies toe nails were painfully coming off (even tho after week 2 they stuck him in a cone that he is still having to wear and absolutely hates!) The vet acted like this was no big deal; and after the 2nd week when I expressed frustrated concern as to why, her answer was “I have no idea, it must be a coincidence that he split so many of his toe nails” She even laughed (when I was ready to cry at his pain). It wasn’t until I read your article that I called immediately that night and left a detailed message at the vet asking her to research SLO. I had to call several more times the next day before her assistant called back confirming. They put him on the medicines you mentioned (except they have him on Rymadil for pain). He has lost 4 more nails since then; and the vet won’t call me back as far as telling me what to expect with him or how to help him to try to decrease his pain….if it weren’t for your post’s I would feel like I”m the only one understanding that my baby is in pain….and if it weren’t for your post’s I wouldn’t even know what Zeus is suffering from. Thank you…..from one GS mom to another…..I’m still not sure other than giving the medicines what I can do for my Zeus, but I don’t feel so alone with figuring it out now….I hope your Riley is doing better….

    • Mom says:

      Hi Elizabeth,

      My heart goes out to you for your very callous sounding veterinarian. I personally would not put up with that and would find a new vet. To me the way this vet responded to your care and concern was heartless and a caring vet would care. We had a vet that didn’t seem to have the compassion that we were looking for in a vet and we did switch. I don’t know if this is true for your vet but I think sometimes they see so much pain and suffering that they have to detach from it for their own personal sanity. This may be what’s going on with yours. But one can detach too much from anything in my opinion and then detachment turns to being callous and that to me is rarely a good thing.

      Thanks for thinking of Riley, he’s doing well with his nails and I hope your pup will be better very soon.

  34. Andrea says:

    I have another question about diet. My mother-in-law has had great success feeding her dogs the dinovite food recipe. They have two different ways to do it: one is raw the other is cooked. I am going to try the raw one and see how it goes with my dog. My questions is about the supplements the vet has Aero taking. He is taking a Vitamin E supplement and a fish oil supplement. He is also on prednisone, niacinamide, a pain killer, and an antibiotic. I also give him a child’s probiotic. Anyway, I guess my question is, should I keep up all of the supplements and other medications while switching him to the raw diet? Does anyone have experience with Dinovite and their raw food recipe?


    • Mom says:

      Hi Andrea,

      I’ve not heard of the “dinovite” food recipe so I can’t comment on that. Since cooking takes some of the nutrients out for both dogs and people I myself prefer raw. I don’t see a problem keeping him on the supps and I would do so myself if it were my dog unless the vet said not to.


  35. Sonja says:

    Hello, My boxer Mater an I got went to a dermatology hospitol because my vet had no idea about this disease, an did some testing an he did come back positvie for SLO an I cought it really early an the bootis are helping cause he hasnt lost a nail yet but he could still we got his meds fixed hes on fatty acid, doxycyline an niacinamide an a shampoo(just for the nails) an tamadol for the pain. Im glad I went to a dermatology’s an they said its very rear to chech it this early the dermatology said an she glad I was over worried an took Mater to her an she said the booties would help his feet because I would file his nails(only the parts that are spliting) an cause he is a boxer they like to use there front feet to pounce an land on the front that the booties would help him be a puppy. She also said he’ll be on meds for the rest of his life, an that he well lose his nails but dont know when an when he does no more booties. I hope other people dont have to go thought this but if they do they should read your web site cause of your web site it helped me do my reach an help my boxer Mater. So thank you an I hope Rilye is doing better.

    • Mom says:

      Hi Sonja,

      I’m glad you found Mater’s SLO in its early stages and that he’s feeling better now. I don’t know about filing the nails but if the derm vet said it was the thing to do all I can say is to assume they’d know what they’re talking about. It sounds like it would be really painful but maybe not.

      Riley is doing just fine with his SLO so far, thank you for your kind thoughts and I’m very happy we were able to help you!


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