Inflammation of the Skin Blood Vessels in Dogs

Vladimir Negron
Nov 12, 2010
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Vasculitis Cutaneous in Dogs

Cutaneous vasculitis is inflammation of the blood vessels due to a proliferation of neutrophils, lymphocytes, or, rarely, with eosinophil deposition. Neutrophils, lymphocytes and eosinophils are types of white blood cells that are important components of the immune system.

Dog of any age, gender, and breed may be affected. However, dachshunds, collies, Shetland sheepdogs, German shepherds, and rottweilers are at high risk.

Symptoms and Types

  • Purplish-red spots on the skin
  • Small vesicles filled with watery fluid on the skin
  • Painful areas, especially the paws, ears, lips, tail and oral membranes
  • Edema (fluid swelling) of the legs, which may form pits when pressed with the finger
  • Itchy skin
  • Skin ulcers (in some areas the tissue may be dead)
  • Lack of appetite
  • Depression
  • Elevated body temperature


  • Unknown (idiopathic)
  • Bad drug interaction
  • Bad vaccine interaction
  • Food allergy
  • Abnormal tissue growth, tumor (neoplasia)
  • Tick borne diseases


Your veterinarian will begin by taking the normal fluid samples, followed by samples of the affected tissue for analysis. The results of the laboratory tests, including the complete blood count, biochemistry profile, electrolyte panel, and urinalysis, are usually found to be within normal ranges. Your veterinarian may order more specific tests to rule out any other diseases that are known to cause similar symptoms.

Sample from the upper layers of the skin will need to be taken for laboratory analysis, and your doctor may need to enlist the assistance of a veterinary pathologist to determine if there are true abnormalities. The veterinary pathologist may need to examine several layers of skin to determine the nature and types of changes, such as whether deposition of single or mixed type of white blood cells (WBCs) -- neutrophils, lymphocytes, or eiosinophils -- are gathering in and around the blood vessels.

The pathologist may also observe necrotized (dead) blood vessels, hemorrhages, or edema within the skin layers. In cases with systemic infections underlying this disorder, further laboratory testing may be ordered to isolate the causative infectious organism.

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