A person might have many pets throughout their life but to each of those pets, they’re the only ones. Luckily for Jax the Akita, his owners were the most loving caregivers he could’ve hoped for. However, Jax also suffered and passed away from a very rare disease. It was also the cause of his unique “mask.” In the hopes of educating other dog owners, his humans decided to share his heartbreaking story.
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When he was just a pup, Jax didn’t have his “mask”
But things began to change when he got older
Jax suffered from an autoimmune disease called Uveodermatologic syndrome (UVD), also referred to as VKH. “It is a rare disease in which the dog’s immune system forms antibodies against its own pigment cells in the skin and light-sensing cells in the back of the eye,” his owners wrote. “It causes red, painful eyes, skin depigmentation on the face and footpads, and premature whitening of the hair. Because the skin and hair issues are cosmetic, treatment focuses on the eye problems, which are typically ongoing and can lead to permanent blindness.”
Those common problems that dogs with UVD experience are called uveitis (inflammation of a layer of the eye), vitiligo (skin depigmentation), and poliosis (premature whitening of the hair ). It’s important to understand that it is the worst-case scenario of all of them and seek treatment immediately. The skin changes, for example, are merely cosmetic, while that for the eyes can lead to blindness.
“The cause is believed to be related to the immune system’s destruction of cells in the retina of the eye and melanocytes (pigment-making cells) the skin and hair,” Jax’s owners added. “It’s been postulated that a virus may trigger the process. Exposure to sunlight may exacerbate the problem.”
“Our goal is to share our journey with our beautiful boy and help educate others so they know what to look for. Many vets seem to misdiagnose the disease and in many cases, it is not caught early. With proper medication, testing, and constant check-ups, it is manageable. There is a very high chance that at some point, they will go blind.”
People were incredibly moved by Jax’s story