Canine DLE Alternative Treatments: Alternative Treatments For Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) in Dogs

Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) in dogs is an autoimmune disease. The dog’s immune system attacks the skin in the area of the face and specifically nose. 

Our dear friend Jana has written about this before in the article Collie Nose: Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) In Dogs

Canine DLE Alternative Treatments: Alternative Treatments For Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) in Dogs

She explained it well and provides the symptoms here

The first signs typically are

  • loss of pigmentation around a dog’s nose
  • an abnormal smoothness to the texture of the nose 

In more advanced cases the symptoms include

  • red and flaky skin
  • ulceration of the skin
  • open sores and crusts

Affected areas most frequently include

  • nose
  • lips
  • ears
  • the skin around the eyes and
  • sometimes the genital area
Canine DLE Alternative Treatments: Alternative Treatments For Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) in Dogs
Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE). Image American College of Veterinary Dermatology

Conventional treatment

Conventional treatment for DLE includes

  • antibiotics – tetracycline or doxycycline and niacinamide (a type of Vitamine B3)
  • topical tacrolimus – an immunosuppressive drug
  • oral corticosteroids such as prednisone or cyclosporine if the case cannot be controlled by the above regimen

There are owners that would not like to treat DLE with the conventional therapies. 

Some dogs cannot tolerate antibiotics. Other dogs have other diseases simultaneously in which the immune suppressive drugs could make worse. Some owners just want a more holistic approach. And, lastly, there are situations when the traditional treatments just are not enough to keep the disease under control.

Alternative or holistic options

General treatment

First, in a holistic approach, the dog’s overall health must be addressed and in DLE calming and re-balancing the overactive immune system is a must. To re-balance the immune system – fewer vaccines, daily probiotic, best nutrition possible – not going to get into a nutrition discussion here but at least grain free to reduce inflammatory promoting foods

Topical treatments

Topical herbal products that contain Calendula (Marigold) which has antioxidant properties and increases circulation. Calendula helps to heal wounds quickly. For use in DLE, it is the antioxidant properties which will help clear up the effects of the immune system attacking the skin cells.

Nutritional products for general systemic effect

Vitamin E and Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids. These have natural anti-inflammatory effects and an affinity for skin so these products can help but usually cannot contain the disease on their own.

More specifically, I personally use Standard Process products to help the body and the immune system. For the case of DLE, I would use Canine Immune System Support and Canine Dermal Support. Both provide basic support for the specific body systems.

A controversial product from SP that I would use would be Dermatrophin PMG, which contains an extract from nucleoprotein-mineral molecules, which seems to neutralize circulating antibodies, which would help in slowing the progression of the immune system dysfunction on the skin. The main function is to maintain cellular health.

Canine DLE alternative treatment modalities

Two of the more successful alternative treatments that have had success with treating some individual cases of DLE have been

Your dog needs a hands-on evaluation by a veterinarian certified in the specific modality.

In both of these modalities, two dogs may have the same disease, such as DLE, but will be treated differently.

Examination and treatment based on the pattern that the dog presents in imperative.

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine

In TCVM, patterns are any combination of the following

  • deficiency and excess
  • heat and cold
  • blood
  • qi
  • yin, and yang

Most cases of DLE the pattern is a Blood Heat. The treatment consists of a herbal combination such as Liang Xue Jie Du Tang. These herbs clear heat from blood and detoxify the system.

However, in some cases, the pattern may be Blood Stagnation. If that is the case, the herbal formula needs to be different such as Mu Dan Pi He Ji. This herbal combination has fewer herbs and it cools the blood and resolves stagnation. OR the pattern may be a Qi-Blood Deficiency and requires a completely different herbal combination.

The only way to diagnose which pattern the dog has is an examination by a veterinarian trained in TCVM. 


Homeopathy requires the same type of examination and treatment is based on exact symptoms.

For the best success, please seek out the advice of an integrative or holistic veterinarian.

DLE is a complex disease with complications of one of the most complex systems in the body- the immune system. 

You would want the best for your best friend to seek out a professional. The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association is a good place to start to find a holistic or integrative veterinarian.

Related articles:
Collie Nose: Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) In Dogs

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