Adventures With SLO

Well, adventures might not be the right word. Trials and tribulations might be more accurate. But there is a mostly happy ending to this story of a SHUG supporter’s experience with the baffling and unpleasant canine disease known as symmetrical lupoid onychodystrophy.

SLO is an autoimmune disease (think doggie lupus) that affects only the nails. Many different breeds can be affected, including greyhounds. It can be painful for the dog and anxiety-producing for the owners. Here is Holly’s story:

Wynn, now 7, is a handsome ex-racing greyhound in perfect health. Last summer, he began licking and chewing his paws. I assumed allergies and reached for the anti-itch sprays and Benedryl, but they didn’t help. Then one day I noticed several of his nails looked odd – basically the quicks were “falling” out the back of his nails. A trip to a baffled vet led to a tentative diagnosis of a fungal infection. (This is a very common first misdiagnosis.)

Wynn was started on oral and topical anti-fungals, and prednisone, but the prednisone side effects were so dramatic and negative, I stopped after two doses. Some days later, I saw one of his nails had become completely separated from the quick and was flipped up like the hood of a car. This prompted another trip to a different vet. She assured me it was a “hang nail,” the result of trauma, not SLO. (Note to those now staring at their dog’s toes, this is a not uncommon reassurance, since many vets don’t know what SLO is.)

The quick is separated from the nail in the early presentation of this disease.

The quick is separated from the nail in the early presentation of this disease.

The vet gave Wynn a local and pulled the nail.

By then, the nail and quick separations were affecting multiple nails and a nasty bacterial infection was brewing in one -- a common side effect of SLO. We treated with an antibiotic and put Wynn on Tramadol for discomfort. (Note: Tramadol tastes nasty. It definitely requires peanut butter for administration.) And I started my research into SLO.

In a nutshell – there are two protocols. One protocol, recommended to me by renowned greyhound specialist Dr. Guillermo Couto, was a variety of immunosuppressive drugs, including prednisone, chlorambucil and/or dexamethasone. However, after our bad experience with prednisone I decided to try the second option, which was a combination of fatty acids and vitamins.

medsSpecifically, for a 75-pound greyhound, I give this daily:

5000 mcg Biotin (3 pills a day)
400 IU Vitamin E (2 pills a day)
500 mg Niacinamide (3 pills a day)
Fish Oil (two scoops a day for a total of 1500 EPA)

While it can take many months for the vitamin protocol to work, Wynn responded well. A few more nails eventually fell off, but he stopped licking his paws and is completely weaned off Tramadol. His nails are growing in normal and I’m considering cutting back or eventually eliminating the protocol.

Another SHUG supporter, Ron, had a similar experience. His first indication of SLO was a bloody toe nail, which he attributed to a traumatic injury. A second nail came off a few weeks later and that prompted a trip to the vet. As with Holly’s experience, Ron’s vet did not initially diagnose SLO. Eventually, as nails continued to come off, the vet came around to the diagnosis. Ron’s greyhound went on a similar protocol to Wynn with the addition of Doxycycline. The protocol did slow the nail loss and Ron’s greyhound eventually grew back her nails.

Here are some important tips:

  1. Try to find a vet experienced with SLO for at least have a consultation if you suspect your pup has the disease.
  2. Be sure to include pain control in your regimen as this can be a painful disease. Usually, the exposed quicks harden quickly and the pain subsides once the nail is lost.
  3. Watch for bacterial infections and treat immediately with appropriate antibiotics. Do NOT wrap any infected paw as the bandage pressure on the exposed quick is painful. If you must, just cover the paw with a loose sock then use vet wrap at the top to keep it on
  4. Generally speaking, don’t let the vet pull the nails. Let them fall off on their own.
  5. Let the dog lick his paws. Increase pain meds when necessary and use the reduction in paw-licking as your barometer of successful pain management.
  6. Be careful about stepping on their toes, but normal activities are not necessarily affected.
  7. Keep nails trimmed short. If the quicks are fully separated, the nails are hollow and brittle and prone to chip. It can be challenging to trim them as it appears to be painful, so pre-treating the pup with Tramadol before a trim is a good thought.
  8. Since the trigger for this autoimmune disease is not known (a connection to vaccination is suspected, but not proven) discuss with your vet how you might adjust your vaccination protocols.
  9. Do NOT let the vet amputate a toe to get a confirmed diagnosis. If your symptoms sound like what Ron and Holly experienced, just assume SLO and start a protocol.

And, finally,

  1. Do NOT panic. This can be, most of the time, a manageable, although chronic disease.

 

 

 

81 Responses

  1. Was the fish oil for the fatty acids? If so, I would choose hemp seed oil over it.

  2. Thank you for this article. My borzoi has SLO as well. He had a terrible reaction to the predazone, so even though I had found a good vet familiar with the disease, we stopped all treatment until his gastro problem was solved. The vet found it hard to belive that the pred had caused such a severe reaction – diarrehea, vomitting and lack of appetite, so I have had tests for other issues, but nothing has been diagnosed. He just lost a nail which was very dramatic for him (of course – he is a sighthound). My vet also recommended dremelling rather than cutting the nails and also dremelling a line futher back on the nail so that if it does break, it is a cleaner break and they may not lose the whole nail.

  3. My (not so) mini schnauzer was diagnosed with SLO in 2012 at the age of 9. He has retained relative remission for the past 7 years on just the high doses of essential fatty acids in the fish oil pills. Relative remission for him is losing one or two nails a year. As opposed to his original loss of all nails. I belong to a yahoo SLO group and those that have many experiences with SLO dogs state that the fish oil is the one thing that should be for life (unless there is some other medical reason to discontinue). I’m curious as to why you want to stop the protocol? I’m not judging. I just wonder why you would discontinue it if it’s working?

    • Moderator

      Sorry for the delay in responding. I’d been told that once in remission, the protocol could be scaled back or even eliminated, although most kept using the fish oil. I never did stop the protocol, though. My greyhound is now 10 and still on the vitamin and fish oil protocol with no lost nails for more than a year.

      Holly Harrington

    • My mini (4) has just started losing his toe nails. I will now get him checked for SLO

  4. I have a question on the dosing. When you say 500 mg of niacinimide -3 pills a day, does that mean a total of 1500 mg a day? Or 500mg divided into 3 doses?

    Thanks!

    • Moderator

      Sorry for the delay in responding. I give three 500 mg capsules of niacinimide per day.

      Holly Harrington

    • Can anyone tell me how to care for the quicks untill the nails grow back. My maya has now lost all her nails and the quicks are so disfigured im concerned the nails wont have a chance to grow back

      • Moderator

        I’m sorry to hear this. My boy never did lose all of them. It was my experience not to do anything. Do NOT wrap. Just allow them to dry and harden on their own. You might curtail walking on hard surfaces for a while. All of my boy’s nails grew back eventually. It does take some time.

        Holly Harrington

        • My greyhound boy was diagnosed about two months ago and so far has lost 6 nails. These came off relatively easily, with a lot,of bleeding, but the present two lifted nails are taking a long time to come off and bleed regularly. I am following your regimen with a specific antibiotic. Is this normal? Also I am struggling with the fish oil. He hates the smell and refuses his dinner if I include it. Re reading your article I think I need to change my painkiller. He ismon Rimadyl but he is very depressed and thinknit is probably pain connected.

          • Moderator

            My boy did not seem to have a significant amount of pain. The nails also came off fairly promptly. I would think having the nails lifted for a long time would be uncomfortable. In that case, you may ask your vet to consider pulling (although that’s usually a last resort.) There are definitely better pain meds than Rimadyl. You might discuss Dermaxx as an option. As for the fish oil, I used Wellactin exclusively. It has no smell at all.

            Good luck.

            Holly Harrington

      • I used epson salt with warm water to soak my dogs paws for as long as he would tolerate. Usually 3-5 min but I think it helped. My dog lost all his toenails and bleed a lot. I had to wrap his paws a lot depending on the bleeding. If the bleeding was only a little then I did not wrap them at all. I had to us quick stop which we bought from Amazon to help control the bleeding. It’s really difficult and frustrating but it gets better. Our dog is now 3 months into treatment and is on the road to recovery slowly.

  5. My almost 9 year old Rottweiler was diagnosed today with SLO and I’m relieved to hear that my girl will have some relief soon. I feel this disease has been more trying than her ACL surgery. I’m so happy to see that there a light at the end of the tunnel and if it means supplements everyday the rest of her life I’ll do it.

  6. My greyhound appears to be coming out of remission. I’ve noticed she is getting sensitive when I touch her feet.
    Do I start the protocol all over again?

    • Moderator

      I personally never stopped the protocol for my SLO dog. I did slightly reduce some of the vitamin doses, but didn’t want to risk the disease returning full force. Obviously discuss with your vet, but I find the vitamin/fish oil protocol easy and relatively inexpensive, so I’d recommend going back on it and staying on it. Good luck.

      Holly Harrington

  7. My 7 year old whippet has just developed SLO and is on the EFA protocol plus the antibiotic Doxycycline and Metacam for pain relief. No known identifiable triggers or change in diet etc but he did have the new Leptospirosis vaccine as few months before the first symptoms appeared. Have decided that he will no longer receive routine vaccinations but we will instead pay to have his bloods screened (antibodies) every two years and vaccinate as necessary but never for Leptospirosis.

    • Moderator

      Some believe there is a link with vaccines in dogs that may be predisposed to developing SLO, although there is no definitive link. I no longer vaccinate, but titer for rabies each year.

      Holly Harrington

      • I got worried when I read your comment. If you only titer for rabies but don’t vaccinate, what will happen if your dog comes into contact with an animal with rabies? It doesn’t have to be another dog – anything from squirrels to rats to bats to cats can carry rabies, in urban, suburban and rural settings. And it doesn’t have to be a bite – coming into contact with the animal’s saliva (which can be on their fur) can transmit the disease.

        • SHUGer

          Laurel, the titer tells you the level of antibodies your dog already has from previous vaccinations. All dogs need at least one rabies vaccination but not all dogs need boosters. The protection from a vaccination fades after a time but it does so at different levels for each dog. The vaccine schedule is designed to cover the worst case scenario but for many dogs one single vaccine may be enough to protect them their entire life. If you’re doing a titer you know exactly how protected your dog is from rabies and the vet can tell you if they need an additional vaccine.

  8. Is there a specific test that can be done for SLO? About 2 weeks ago my greyhound-6 year old ex-racer-was attacked by the neighbor’s dog. During the scuffle one rear nail was torn off. During her follow up 10 days later, her vet mentioned that she had another rear toenail on the opposite foot that was also separated. That was last Tuesday. It is now Friday night, and she has at least one toenail separated on every foot. It has also been a very rough month for her. The week before her attack she was diagnosed with hemorrhagic gastroentoritis due to extremely bloody diarrhea. Could stress and a compromised immune system cause lupus? Her vet is extremely baffled and I am stressed out.

    • Moderator

      There is a test, but it’s usually not recommended. It involves, basically, amputating part of their toe for testing. Most advise just to treat if SLO is suspected. Your description sounds very much like SLO. After discussing with your vet, you might want to start her on the vitamin/fish oil protocol. I don’t believe anyone really knows what causes lupus (in people or dogs). But stress can compromise an immune system. Most vets know very little about SLO. I do recommend consulting with Dr. Couto. He is available via email for a reasonable fee. coutovetconsultants.com. Good luck.

  9. Can I ask, do you just buy human vitamins for the Biotin, Vitamin E and Niacinamide?
    Also, how did you work out the doseages? My little lurcher girl seems to have started with this problem, licking her feet all of a sudden and now 3 nails have split or lifted away for no apparent reason.
    She is only a little girl, 20kg so presume she’ll need less of the vitamins?
    Luckily she is already on the salmon oil but wasnt having it regularly, she will be on it all the time now.
    Thanks for this article, its really helpful and reassuring!

    • Moderator

      Yes, I buy human vitamins (on Amazon.com actually). I worked out the doses some time ago, so I don’t exactly recall how I arrived at what I did. My boy is 75 pounds for comparison, but I don’t think any of the vitamins would cause an issue if you used the dosages I worked out for a larger dog. I’m glad the article was helpful.

  10. Thank you for the information. My greyhound has lost 3 nails in as many weeks. My vet put him on doxycycline and niacinamide along with the other supplements. He just seems lethargic. Is that normal? He lost 2 nails 2 weeks ago and one of them is still bright red and oozing. The other 2 look much better. I’m leaving his back foot unwrapped and the front with socks only. Its the one nails that does not seem to be getting better. Any thoughts? He licks and licks if socks are not on.

    • Moderator

      I can’t speak to the lethargy as that didn’t occur with mine. In my experience, the quicks hardened fairly quickly. I’d suspect you might have an infection going on (which did happen to my dog only once), which is why one nail remains red. I’d check with the vet. You might have to wrap that one that is possibly infected.

  11. I believe my 2 year old Goldendoodle has SLO. My vet is stumped as to why his nails keep falling off, front and back paws for no apparent reason, so they must not know about SLO. All the symptoms and pictures match what is happening to him. I am going to start the vitamin/oil protocol and see if it makes a difference. Any tips on finding a vet that has experience with this disease in my area?

  12. Hi my 4 year old greyhound,Lady, has suddenly developed SLO, we have diagnosed this ourselves, she has lost at least 8 claws in the last 8 weeks, costing me a small fortune in vets fees, have now got her on the fish oil, omega 3,6,9, vitamin e plus Anti-Bacterial meds’ from the vets. When she loses a claw it’s quite traumatic for her, she tends to scream, she’s a diva, and me with all the blood involved. I don’t think we have reached an easing of the condition yet but I live in hope. Has anyone had their dogs claws removed before they come loose?.

    • Moderator

      Wow. So sorry about that. When my boy’s claw comes off, there is rarely blood and no screaming. He is quite stoic, though. I did have his first claw removed by the vet, but the rest I’ve let fall off on their own. You might want to discuss pain meds for your girl since she’s losing so many claws in short order. Tramadol, I believe, is often recommended. You might also discuss with your vet whether your girl would benefit from prednisone. Best of luck.

      Holly Harrington

      • Many thanks for your reply and support. It’s very hard seeing your dog in so much distress, but I’m sure we will both get through this. Thanks for the advice will discuss again with my vet.

  13. I am getting conflicting EPA requirements on the Fish oil from different people. What is the recommended daily mg amount for a 67 pound dog? I have heard 1200, 1500, 2400, not sure how much to give daily.

    • Well Lady has been making steady progress since being on her regime of meds and supplements. The SLO seems to have slowed down, although bless her she only has 4 of her claws left. Loosing a claw is not as traumatic for either of us now, seems I’m getting used to the blood. The licking of the paws gets more intense the closer to loosing a claw gets. She only needs pain relief for a very short spell just before the claw really dislodges it self.

  14. Great article! My Boxer just got dx’ed today after having multiple nails removed yesterday. (Interestingly, only his black nails are affected, his three white nails seem fine.) My vet was stumped, but he’s been working with us on this for several months and his treatment protocol has been very similar to yours, just going on his own hunch of what might help. I gave the vet a similar article yesterday and he said he’d never heard of SLO, but says this is what he has. We’ve tweaked the treatment and it now pretty much matches yours. It’s a relief to finally have an answer. I hope the quicks dry up fast so he’s in less pain. 🙁 It sounds like in the future, I should just let the nails fall off? None of his have come off naturally so far, despite becoming completely separated. Thanks again for the great info!

  15. Hi all it’s a long time since I’ve added anything to this discussion. My greyhound Lady has in fact lost all of her claws, last one probably about 4 months ago. No new claws growing yet and the quicks have hardened and shrivelled. She doesn’t seem to mind not having claws and walks quite happily, although she still doesn’t like her paws touched. I don’t know if the claws will grow back and in a way am hoping they don’t as they caused her so much pain when she was losing them. She used to like to dig in my plant pots, her big “brother” Olly, another greyhound, obliges for her it’s quite sweet to watch, even though I get cross at losing my plants, ha ha.

    Has anyone’s dog had their claws grow back after all this time.

    Am keeping up with the vitamins and giving them to Olly as well even though he doesn’t suffer with slo.

    Good luck to you all and love to all your dogs.

    • They will grow back. Our girls are starting to and she lost them all. I dont think they will grow back looking as lovely as before but they will grow back.

  16. I found your great article on Google, my German Shepherd lost her first nail 2 month ago. Luckily my local 24/h vet found that is was SLO on the first visit (only 1 nail went off that day). They did test for all kinds of infection and they found out it was infected and that all her nails were cracked and no matter what, they will all drop (They didn’t amputate, they only removed the next in line nail to drop under anesthesia). So on that day the vet gave me antibiotics, pain reliever and a BIG cone that I removed after 3 weeks because she was able to lick them anyway. The vet also told me to clean her paws everyday with 1 liter(quart) of boiled water, wait till it cool down then add a cap of Bleach. The vet also told me to buy Omega-3 at my pharmacy (Each soft-gel is : 1065mg fish oil / 400mg EPA / 200mg DHA), I give this once or twice a day (she told me I could reach 3 a day but I thought in was too much). I give her the soft-gel directly in her mouth after her lunch and she eat it with no problem, I think she likes it!

    Now shes doesn’t really lick her paws anymore(rarely). But all her nails are ugly, not straight, waving in each side, easily cracking (like witch fingers!!!)

    But she doesn’t care what it looks like, I’m pretty sure she feels better!

    This method was really cheap and I was surprise that the vet didn’t really sell me way too expensive stuff.
    Then came the next visit 2 weeks ago to my normal vet location and they told me she needed expensive treatment of Tetracycline/Niacinamide, else it will come back, I told her I will wait till the problem come back because why give this expensive stuff to my dog when she feels great right now!

    I found another woman that her dog has the same thing and she wasn’t lucky with the vet but the disease didn’t come back and she gave niacin everyday to her dog since last year and it never came back. So that’s why I’m here today because I was looking to a better solution to only omega-3 and if niacin was good, I found out niacinamide was better and I will tell her. But I will try your treatment and see if it goes better!

    thanks a lot

  17. My greyhound has SLO and has maybe 2 toenails left. This is week 2 after the veterinarian finally agreed she SLO, which they had never heard of and were skeptical about. The vet put huge bandages on each paw. Is it better to keep their fancy bandages or remove them?

    BTW, we are in the high desert and the yard is flagstones and gravel, but it’s monsoon season and it rains almost daily for a short time, which means we have to carry her indoors. She is very reluctant to walk, not even 10 feet for her favorite treat. She’s needing a lot of tramadol – she shakes and whistles when she’s in pain.

  18. I’m 100% sure my 11 year old GSD is dealing with this especially after reading many different articles on this. Yours is most helpful and describes the same issues she is having. She has already lost a few nails. It seems painful when the nail lifts but once it falls off she is much better I had bought a bannixx spray and have been using that several times a day.I had started to give her salmon oil and after reading your article I have now got all the other supplements. Just waiting for the niacinamide to come in.
    I just want to know if you give all the supplements at once or space them out several times a day. Thank you.

  19. My Irish Setter was diagnosed with SLO many years ago. Back then, I was given the options of amputation, high dose prednisone & antibiotics, or fish oils/Omega 3 with EPA/DHA. I decided to try the high dose omega 3&6 protocol. It took several months before his nails began to regrow and a few years before there was a complete remission of SLO. He now has all 18 nails looking normal!

    After much research and various trials, the specific dosage that worked the best for him and several other dogs in my area is the following:

    AM meal: 1. One 900mg Omega-3 (contains 900mg Omega-3, 600mg-EPA, 300mg-DHA)
    2. One 180mg Vitamin E (400 IU)
    3. One 500mg Vitamin C (must be Calcium Ascorbate!)

    PM meal: 1. One 900mg Omega-3 (contains 900mg Omega-3, 600mg-EPA, 300mg-DHA)
    2. One 180mg Vitamin E (400 IU)

    It is important to include the vit. C, since it helps with absorption of the other vitamins/oils.
    Also, all the above vitamins are high quality human vitamins. The fish oil is from Trunature and is the Triple Strength Omega-3 900mg. The vitamin E is from Kirkland Signature and is the 180 mg(400IU) per capsule. The vitamin C is from Ester-C 500mg, and is the only one I found that is Calcium Ascorbate.For

    My setter is now 12 years old and his nails still look fantastic.

    Remember, for anyone using the fish oil protocol, this is for the life of your pup!

    I hope this helps someone. Believe me, I know how heart wrenching it is to watch your beloved pup suffer with every step they take. I hope to never have to go through this again.

    • What about diet? No one has spoke about diet. My vet says Hydrolyzed protein and no longer regular dog food. I am not on board. I am doing it, however, the ingredients are aweful!!

      Please help!

      • Moderator

        My vet has not recommended hydrolyzed protein for SLO, but I can tell you that I did try it for a different reason and it was a “no go” as far as my greyhound was concerned.

        Holly Harrington

    • Thank you for sharing your experience and protocol. I am trying to get my poodlish fellow off of the immunosuppressant drugs he was put on about 4 months ago. He rapidly lost all of his nails due to SLO and walks uncomfortably. He is receiving acupuncture and laser treatments to his toes in addition to the hard meds, niacin amide, vote E, fish oil (perhaps not enough!) and Chinese herbs to reduce inflammation.
      I am integrating your suggestions and would like to know how much your setter weighed. My guy is only 15 pounds. Thanks very much. Carolyn

  20. slo is horrible I think my dogs got it good g to vet today but a dermatologist

  21. My 8 year English bulldog issabella was diagnosed with slo and I am totally destroyed inside I worry about her every day all day she’s been in treatment for about 5 weeks now and I do see a difference no more smell from infection is gone but still loosing nails all of her rear nails are gone the front paws only one has come off she’s on meds 4 pills in am and 4 in pm doxycycline 100mg 2x a day pentoxifylline 1.5 400mg 2xa day omega 3 2xaday and niacinamide 1 2xa day I go back to the dermitoligst tomarrow for a check up can anybody please call me I’m a mess I need some advice and support I know she’s in pain and the meds make her very lathargic some days she won’t eat I just want my dog back to normal and I willing to do anything for her when does it start getting better for her my number is+19738007057 thanks

    • Hey Eric, I just came across this thread about SLO and your fur baby. I am not sure I can find the thread again. My boy was just diagnosed and I am beside myself. He started on the Doxy, fish oil, vit E and Niaminicide yesterday. I was wondering how your baby is and is she feeling any relief? Is there any advice you can give me? Are you doing any foot soaks and just curious what you feed her..Ugh I hate when our fur babies don’t feel well

  22. Hi all,

    Eric I’m sorry to hear about your Isabella’s problems with her paws. We all feel bad when our dogs are in so much distress and there is little we can do to help them. Try out some of the ideas given they really do help.

    I have just re-read all the sorry tales about our poor dogs who suffer with slo. Lady my 5 year old greyhound has started to get her claws growing back, I can hear the clip clip of her claws on the floor, she can’t sneak up on me anymore. 1 looks a little crooked but they’re not yet long enough to tell, she has very small dainty feet. She still occasionally licks at her feet a lot then that stops, she still doesn’t like her feet touched.
    I’m watching her feet daily just to make sure we don’t suffer the bleeding and pain that we previously had.

    I’ll keep in touch and let you know how things progress.

  23. I’ll add our experience here if it will help anyone else. The first signs of nails broken off and blood on the white furniture and our rescued Leo (Saluki x Borzoi) in pain and scared to walk, much less run again, was heart wrenching. Thanks to the internet we learned so much and helped educate the young vets that come of our small county. Leo indeed received two different vaccinations on the same visit, a few months before his first nail came off (never again). He was also under a lot of stress as we were doing more car travel then and that would upset him (he’s getting better and so are we about taking corners slower and feeding him less food before a road trip). That first July (I read this is more active in the dry summer months), August and September he went through every beautiful black glossy toenail, in no particular order of left, right, front or back. We opted for the fish oil and vit e protocol since I was already taking those from my naturopath, so that round didn’t arrest the current flare-up, but this past summer I’d heard that a therapeutic dose is more than a maintenance dose for humans with auto-immune disease, so I figured the same for him and doubled Leo’s fish oil and he only lost maybe 1 or 2 nails and it was so much less traumatic that we’re not even sure. None have grown back black and glossy, and some are very strange shapes, but he’s back to running unafraid to hurt himself. He’s 55 lbs and is on the following: Super EPA 720, DHA 480, Vit E 400 Units Total, all split in two doses with meals. He also eats grain-free kibble with some canned or human meat mixed in, and likes some apple or veggies each day for snacks. Come spring time I will double the EPA and DHA through the summer, and hope that we’ll have no-nail-loss next year. The first summer we only bandaged with a sock when he was actively bleeding. If he was taking care of his own cleaning we didn’t bother. We also only needed to use rimadyl when he was just about to lose another nail or it had just split and he didn’t want to walk. I don’t think we did anything special at all this past summer. There’s hope, so don’t despair or give up!

  24. Have just found this page, thanks for the info. Our 5 year old Ridgeback cross was late last year diagnosed with SLO. She had to have all her remaining nails removed just before Christmas and is recovering still. However the operation seems to have gone well, but it will be a few months until nails regrow and we will know if the problem persists. Our Vet has Belle on Macrolone, although just reduced the dosage to one a day, as well as Megaderm (Omega 3&6 supplement), Vit E and B3. He has recommended we also try EPA supplement. The Macrolone gives her a ferocious appetite and thirst, so we are looking to see if there is anything else other than this medication that may do the trick in the long term.

    Thanks for your input.

    Peter (Tasmania)

  25. I have a Mini Schnauzer that is afflicted.. After a year of fish oil and vit e I cut back then stopped and it has returned witha vengence. We’ve had to start back on medication to help her with the pain and fungal issues. I’ve found it’s best to continue with the vitamins indefinitely… unless you want to go through this every so often and have to go through giving meds and potentially having to have nails removed 🙁

  26. Our 2 yr old Grey, Dreamer, has just been diagnosed with SLO. She has 2 bleeding issues, von Willebrand & Hyper Fibrinolosis, so there was great concern for bleeding when her first nail separated from the quick and she was in pain & with concern of bleeding our vet in Clwtr recommended We take her to Univ of Fla. Started her on (Vit E 180) EPA fish oil 1000 mg, niacinimide 1500, Doxi 300 mg & gabapentin 300 mg for pain.)
    We had taken her there last year to laparoscopically spay & they found her bleeding issues & we chose not to spay at that time because they did not have the meds to pretreat before surgery. When we went back with her toe -they removed with little bleeding. Bandaged & said the new nail had started & just check bandages with local vet in a few days. When we went to local vet he saw healing was not as progressed as expected & 3 more nails were lifting. We took back to U of Fla & 2 Dermatologist examined her. They added Prednisone 30 mg 2x a day & tramadol which ran out & we’re not replacing at this time until they get test results back from their biopsy. The Internist & Pharmacy are working together with Dermatologist to determine best meds to keep her comfortable.
    She has a cone to keep her from licking her toes & we are wondering about socks. We need to prevent bleeding as much as possible.
    Drs felt the stress of her first cycle may have brought this on. She went 28 days & was miserable. Now we are committed to the spay when she is stable.
    Drs said Vaccines are thought to trigger SLO but she is up for her rabies booster now -so that wasn’t probable cause. We will hold off on vaccines.
    We have read about soaking her feet with Epson salts -what does that do?
    We want to delay her toes coming off so new nail starts & alleviates bleeding & pain.
    We also saw Biotin listed on some sites -good idea?
    We’ll check with Drs -feel like she’s taking so much that don’t want to overdue.
    It is a bit overwhelming & hope her other nails come off safely & that she goes in remission. Also hope to get her cone off -poor baby -she had it on during cycle & now this!

  27. I left a detailed chronological description of our greyhound, Dreamer’s SLO -yesterday -don’t see itvposted -is there a reason?

    • Moderator

      It is now!

      Holly Harrington

  28. My gsd was diagnosed about a month ago. He is still losing nails, and will probably lose them all. He is under 80 lbs. I have started the protocol with doxycycline, niacinamide, fish oil, and 1 75 mg carprovet every 12 hours. The problem I am having is diarrhea. I am still working this out with my vet, but has anyone had a problem with the high doses of fish oil and diarrhea?

    • Moderator

      I did work my boy’s dosage up slowly. I also use Wellactin, which I think is tolerated better. And I add psyllium husks to each meal to combat loose stools.

      Holly Harrington

  29. I have two 5 year old male schnoodles, full brothers. Buddy and Chewie. In August of 2018 Buddy was diagnosed with SLO after the 3rd trip to the Vet (started our adventure in June of 2018) for peeled back nails, bleeding, licking and exposed quicks. I thought he kept catching his nails on something causing the nail to tear off. He was on antibiotics for 14 days after diagnosed and a mild pain med. We also soaked his affected foot in a mild betadine and warm water solution daily until symptoms eased. They also gave him Neo-Predef (Zoetis) powder for the bleeding which has an antibiotic and a numbing agent to help with the pain. It is prescription but so worth asking for if SLO has been diagnosed. I use it for reoccurring nail loss. Since diagnosis he has lost all his nails. Buddy is 25 pounds and on 1600mg biotin daily, 180 mg (400 IU) vitamin E daily and 600 mg Fish Oil daily. I use fish oil that’s had mercury filtered out of it, usually Nature Made. I pop the fish oil capsules and squeeze over his food. Makes his beard smell fishy but it has helped him significantly. Although his brother Chewie has never shown any signs of even thinking about losing a nail I started him on same regiment after I found out about SLO just as a precaution.

    If Buddy has a reoccurrence (just lost a dew last week) I’ll soak his foot in a mild betadine and warm water solution for 20 minutes and then use the Neo-Predef powder. I do wrap with a piece of loose vet wrap or put a baby sock on his foot after using the powder because it can upset their stomach a bit if they lick it off. I usually only leave the loose wrap or sock on for a few hours while I watch him until the powder “dries” and has a chance to work it’s magic.

    Good luck. Hope this was helpful.

  30. Liz

    Hi – what a great find this page has been! Coco, my beautiful 5 year old Working Cocker Spaniel, has just been diagnosed with suspected SLO. She has now lost 6 claws in the past 4 weeks.
    I much prefer the option of a more natural protocol- how do you work out the dosage? She is 24lbs. My vets are currently researching as they didn’t know much about SLO but I’m worried they are going to want to put her on meds so trying to get as much advice on fish oil, vit E etc
    Any advice welcomed.
    I have to say reading all your comments and seeing this is manageable, has calmed me down. You love them so much and don’t want them to be in pain.
    Thanks Liz

    • Liz
      SLO seems to be an autoimmune deficiency problem. The amounts of vitamin E (180 mg) and (609mg) fish oil are what my Vet recommended for my 25 pound Schnoodle. I asked about the biotin amount for him and they said the 1600mg would be fine. Double check with your Vet tho. Also, don’t forget to ask for the Neo Predef powder. It’s comes in a little “puffer” bottle and it’s real easy to apply and it seems to really help with pain and definitely helps if there is a little infection. Don’t forget to soak the paw in a little warm betadine water before you apply the powder. And I wrap it after the powder is on for about and hour to let it all dry and give the powder a chance to work. Or just watch him so he doesn’t lick it off.

      BTW, it was also recommended that I switch to a dog food with Omegas. I switched to Science Diet small bites for adult dogs. He likes it and it all seems to be helping.

      Hope this helps

  31. Hi, thanks for all the great information. My greyhound has three nails separating from the quick on one paw. I started him on vitamin
    D, fish oil, and Niacinamide. He is still working on the par, but no limping and no swelling. What would be some of the signs of infection I should be looking for? Thank you!

    • Moderator

      The nail bed looks angry — red and swollen. They’re likely to limp. In all the time my boy has had SLO, we only had one infected nail.

      Holly Harrington

  32. Hi,

    My dog has SLO. He is half American bulldog – we are sure of that (we saw the mom). We were told his father was half lab and half German Shepherd.

    We have our second flare-up now, and last year it happened at the exact same time – we noticed it like the same month if not week. Has anyone considered looking into environmental factors? Is read there is a group for this, and I am good at data analytics – maybe we can compare data? If it is environmental, this may be easier to figure out than anyone thinks.

    Since it happened at about the same time, one of my thoughts was tap water. I called, and they aren’t doing any additives/treatments according to the person I spoke with, but seriously – who knows? Maybe in springtime there is more bacteria present in the water? Maybe in spring he is drinking more of the water? Could be…

    I read vaccines were a theory – my dog did just get vaccines. I would be interested to see others with this issue and when they received their vaccines? there could be a correlation in the date (yes, correlation isn’t causation – I am not an “antivaxxer” – but maybe our few dogs have a sensitivity to a vaccine).

    It is a rare condition, and I doubt any vets are going to go to extremes to solve this problem. That doesn’t mean it can’t be solved – especially if we gather data from all over.

  33. Hi, thank you so much for the excellent SLO information it has been enlightening in understanding our dog Lola’s condition. She is a 23kg 6.5 yr old first generation 50-50 Flat-Coated Retriever and standard Poodle cross, a stunning, clever and wonderfully joyful dog that has a fantastic character and until this a sound constitution, (after having had 3 wonderful Flat Coated Retrievers, each with several physical issues). Until a bloody loosened claw in early April Lola had hardly needed to trouble the vet. As you suggested the first Vet was doubtful of cause but on noticing all claws were a bit pussy, suggested an underlying infection. Under a local, 4 claws on one front paw were removed and sent for tests along with 1 one on a rear paw, this quick remained wet for about a month while the others on the front paw immediately dried and no longer troubled her. She was put on a strong antibiotic and Fatty acids and Vit E. After a month of a few further nails sloughing off dry, and a non-plussed but really caring VET, Lola was referred to a Dermatoligist who immediately diagnosed SLO. She is now nearing the end of a 6 week course of 1500mg of Oxytetracycline (I have reduced to 1000mg due to lethargy), 1500mg of B3 Nicotinamide, 400mg of Vit E and The Fatty Acids oil. To this, from this blog, I have added Biotin. The Dermatoligist suggested we changed her diet to predominately white fish, so fresh fish being too uninteresting from her point of view, I fry her sardines and mix that with dry Burns Fish & Rice. She still gets her dried tripe stick before bed. She still has 3 original claws on her other front paw that are rising from their quicks but remain stubbornly tight. They trouble her on our pebbly beach but she is thankfully stoical and if not too dosed-up on antib’s is in a playful state. All her quicks are displaying misshapen hardnesses hopefully prenails that are rather flaky. I am reassured from earlier comments that they will likely grow back, I hope so as she had magnificent glossy and strong nails. What I am curious about is the trigger for this illness, she is a low stress dog, not troubled by noise/fireworks, and had no injections later than a year earlier, etc… Any leads would be most helpful. Thanks again, Tom

  34. Thank you so much for all of this information. My 5 y/o lab mix is suffering with this. My vet thinks it’s a coincidence that he’s losing all of his nails and that it’s due to trauma. I am struggling to find a dermatologist with available appointments. I’m so hesitant because my poor boy is so sensitive to anyone touching his nails I think it’s painful for him. I want to make sure the next doc I bring him to knows about this issue.

  35. Jo

    THANK YOU so much for this post and the vitamin-fatty acid recipe! I was really freaked out when my 10-year-old Border Collie mix started losing her nails suddenly. The vet suggested high-dose omega-3 fish oil and niacin plus antibiotics, but I’m so relieved to read that there is a natural/better solution without the antibiotics. Has anyone experimented with diet as well (besides the hydrolyzed stuff)? I’m wondering if a recent switch from a grain-free salmon diet to one containing grains and potatoes could have triggered this autoimmune response? I tried switching off grain-free due to the recent news of a possible connection between grain-free food and DCM . . . I hope the switch (even though it was gradual) is not what caused all this. Also, has anyone tried turmeric or CBD oil to help ease the inflammation?

  36. Thank you so much for writing about your experience with SLO. Our beagle mix has been diagnosed with SLO and lost all of her nails…one at a time. The vet wants her on prednisone or Atopica (cyclosporine) but it makes her so ill we’ve had to stop the treatment. I will use your protocol instead. Has anyone tried medicinal mushroom blends for the immune system? There are several dog products out there that claim they heal autoimmune disorders through mushrooms (Super Snouts & Armour Up). Also, has anyone tried Structured Silver which also claims to heal fungal infections? Thank you for being a supportive community to help heal this confusing disorder.

  37. Our Great Pyrenees has all the signs of SLO. One of the other pups from the same liter is showing issues with her feet as well. We have been to the vet and of course their lack of knowledge let to me being scolded for not trimming his nails and the pulling off of a nail. It’s so obvious after doing my research he has SLO. My question is this: Can I soak my boys feet in a mixture of peroxide and epsom salt diluted with water? I’ve read this helps with bacterial infections.

    • Moderator

      I”m not sure why you’d want to soak their feet. I generally let them alone unless there was an active bacterial infection (only happened once), for which I gave oral antibiotics. Soaking definitely will not affect the disease any as it’s autoimmune, not external in origin. I’d definitely recommend you start on the vitamin protocol. It certainly won’t hurt him. And perhaps try to find a vet who has some experience with the disease or is willing to do some reading.

      Holly Harrington

  38. Hi all,
    This website is so incredibly helpful and reassuring!!
    My 4 year old, 5kg mini dachshund Nala was diagnosed with SLO 2 weeks ago, following an initial misdiagnosis.
    She has lost 2 of her toe nails but luckily she had no pain or blood. However a number of her nail beds are infected and very sore for her. She wears a cone, however she can reach her toes with her long body 😂. Does anyone put socks on their dogs feet?
    Nala is currently on a treatment of biotin, doxycycline, prednisolone, fish oil and cyclosporine. She has definitely improved however her toes are still very sensitive.
    How do you cut your dogs nails? Nala’s are so long, but she screams any time someone tries to cut or file them. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

    Thank you all in advance.

    • Moderator

      I’m sorry, but I did not have this issue with my boy. He would let me trim them, although I had to be careful, especially if the quick was separated from the nail. You might try a grinder a little at a time to see if that helps. Perhaps others have some ideas.

      Holly Harrington

  39. Your article is blessing! The first positive piece of information I have found on SLO. My babygirl was diagnosed yesterday after being misdiagnosed 2 weeks ago and put on only Epsom baths, I knew in my gut this was something more, due to the constant licking, horrible smell and lifted nail bed. She has now been prescribed 2 antibiotics & told to go see a dermatologist for dogs. I will also be adding this vitamin/oil protocol. I broke down yesterday when I found out, thinking this would forever cause her pain, stress & stop her from living a happy doggy life but after reading this my heart soars with hope. Thank you & thank you to everyone else that has shared their story. <3

  40. Pat

    I have s sheltie with Dermatomyositis, and one of her big issues is her feet. After reading your posts, i don’t think she has SLO, but her nails are growing in weird ways – either twisted or pointing up instead of down. I am thinking of trying your vitamin protocol, plus a different pain med, as what we are doing doesnt seem to be helping. She is on a variety of meds already ( its an autoimmune disease) , so I’d rather do anything natural before going to more steroids.
    I love being able to find sites where owners help each other out – sometimes before the vet can figure it out!!!

  41. Pat

    How did you come to your dosage of biotin? My dog is only 16 lbs, so i have NO idea if how much to give.
    Thanks!

    • Moderator

      The dosage I noted was for a 75 pound dog. You could try cutting my suggested dose by 75 percent to start. You might check with your vet. I don’t believe you need to overly worry about too much biotin, but it’s always good to double check.

      Holly Harrington

  42. I have a 2 yo husky that was diagnosed in February of this year… SLO is by far one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever dealt with. My dog is one of my children and to hear that he has a disease tears me apart. We were very lucky to have found a wonderful dermatologist who has treated him with supplements and prescriptions as needed. Following the drs orders, every affected nail has now formed together… there is rare splitting but dogs rough house it’s inevitable… we lose a nail here and there and have to add steroids into his routine for a few days but now once the nail grows back it’s growing back normal. This disease is demanding and requires routines that can be overwhelming. It really is so nice to have found this site for support since no one I know has ever heard of this disease other than the dermatologist.

    • Kym

      I’ve had a similar experience with My 60lb cattle dog. Noticed a nail looked like it was lifting, thought trauma…then another on opposite paw. Called Vet. He thought we should excise nail and send for fungus test until I asked what he knew about SLO. (My furbabies are my world so I did some research!) He said he had to break out his derm book but we are treating as though it IS SLO and we shall see….wish us luck! Started Welactin and antibiotic yesterday. Will start vitamins tomorrow.

  43. I am so pleased I found this site. My 7 year old cocker spaniel, Holly, has been suffering with nail bed infections for the last 2 or 3 months and had 3 claws removed so far.
    Our vet doesn’t seem to know what is wrong with her, although she did suggest omega 3&6. I have ordered some Biotin now and am also thinking I should give her vitamin E as well.
    She was always a very lively happy dog until all this started and now doesn’t want to go for walks and hates walking on grass.
    I feel at the moment it has ruined her life, but after reading some of your comments there is light at the end of the tunnel although I know it’s going to take time.
    I just want her wagging tail back and to enjoy the long exciting walks we had together.

  44. My poor Italian Greyhound damage his first toenail in July. The vet treated him with a round of antibiotics and Gabapentin for pain, he also was given his shots the same day. He has since lost or partial lost most of his nails. The vet has been stumped, thinking fungal problem and wanted to biopsy, possible removal of one toenail to rule out her idea of fungal even after our findings/research on SLO. We started him last week on fish oil, which he hates the smell of and is starting to refuse to eat. Hard to figure out dosing on other vitamins given his IG weight of 12 lbs. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. It breaks my heart to see him in pain and losing so many nails.

    • Moderator

      I used Wellactin fish oil. It has no smell and none of my dogs ever disliked it. As far as moderating the doses for your little guy, the doses as I put them in the blog were for a 70 pound dog, so I’d just do the math for your little guy. I’d also recommend you ask your vet to research SLO.

      Good luck.

      Holly Harrington

  45. Hi there! My 9 year old pit/lab was diagnosed September 2018- she lost every nail and was in pain. I used all of the same pills, but did pills of omega 3 & 6 rather than the liquid. I give her liquid joint supplements. Anyway- I stopped giving her the pills, she only gets biotin and CBD and it has been working amazing!!!! Growing back and healthy. She is running again! I do want to soak her paws as the get very dirty outside and I want to be sure they stay clean. Any suggestions on what to soak them in?!

    • Moderator

      I’d use something very mild to wash their paws, and definitely would not soak. Good luck!

      Holly Harrington

  46. Hi,
    I found your article very interesting and made me very hopeful for my golden retriever. I am wondering though about the dosages you are giving your dog.

    5000 mcg Biotin (3 pills a day), so is that 5000 mcg total or 3 pills of 5000 mcg and a total of 15,000 mcg;
    400 IU Vitamin E (2 pills a day), is that 400 iu per day or 2 pills of 400 iu and a total of 800 iu per day;
    500 mg Niacinamide (3 pills a day), again is that a total of 500 mg per day or 3 pills per day for a total of 1500 mg per day;
    Fish Oil (two scoops a day for a total of 1500 EPA) I bought Alaskan Salmon whole fish oil, 1200 mg, I don’t know what EPA means, is it the same as mg?

    I picked up all of the above today and just want to make sure I give my girl the right amount. I thank you in advance for your reply. I hope your doggie is doing well.

    Thanks again for such an informative read.

    • Moderator

      So in each situation, the first is the pill itself and the second is how many pills a day. So, yes, three 5000 mcg biotin pills each day, etc. I’d split them roughly half in each meal. As for fish oil, the 1500 EPA is not the size of the dose, but how much of the important ingredients the dog is getting. I did the math a long time ago (and don’t recall it exactly) but I used Wellactin, which had the right amount of EPA for my 70-pound dog with two scoops per day. Other sources of fish oil have different amounts. It should tell you on the packaging.

      Good luck

      Holly Harrington

  47. There is a comment here about adding Vitamin C for SLO but I am wondering if this is a good idea or not. Vitamin C helps boost the immune system according to what I have read online. SLO, I think, is the immune system working overtime and attacking the nails. So if you give Vitamin C could this not be making the immune system attack the body even more? I am very confused about these autoimmune diseases. Please comment because I want to help her but I don’t want to make it worse. I have just started her on Niacin, Biotin, Vitamin E and Salmon oil, so should I add vitamin c as suggested by one of the posters or not? What do you think? Thanks in advance.

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