At the RVC, we’re passionate about getting the best outcome for dogs and cats with autoimmune diseases, and about conducting research to find the best treatments for the future.

Our immune-mediated disease clinic is led by the Internal Medicine Service but works very closely with specialists in a range of other clinical services at the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals (QMHA).

The immune system is very important to protect ourselves and our beloved pets from harmful infections. Unfortunately, sometimes, the immune system malfunctions and starts causing disease, including destruction of cells and tissues, or inflammation and fever.

Making a diagnosis

Some of the symptoms of immune-mediated diseases include anaemia, joint pain, neck pain, skin ulceration, liver disease, and fevers of unknown origin. These diseases can be challenging to diagnose and often require very careful treatment. Confidently establishing a correct diagnosis is therefore vital.

As immune-mediated diseases often affect more than one body system, the clinic team collaborates with many other specialists, including those with expertise in Neurology, Orthopaedics, Soft Tissue Surgery, Dermatology and Ophthalmology. For very sick animals, the Intensive Care Unit delivers critical support, including the possibility for blood transfusion, haemodialysis and the removal of harmful antibodies from the blood (plasmapheresis).

Getting the right treatment

Tailoring treatment of immune-mediated disease to individual patients limits the side-effects of the medicines used and maximises the effectiveness of treatment. Recent years have seen an impressive expansion of the range of drugs for immune-mediated diseases, which can no longer be treated with the traditional ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Supporting you through every step

Autoimmune diseases aren’t common, and they can be tricky to manage.  At the immune-mediated disease clinic, we’re committed to providing ongoing support for dogs and cats we see, including speaking on the telephone with owners or referring vets, and offering follow-up appointments to assess the progress of the pets we treat.  We use our experience to provide reassurance when things are going well, and to help you and your vets if they aren’t.

Working for the pets of the future

We believe research is vital to improve the treatment of dogs and cats in the future.  We are engaged in a number of research projects and, if your pet is eligible, we may ask if they can be enrolled in our research.  There is no obligation to be involved in our studies, and it won’t affect the care we offer your pet if you say no.

You can read about some of our research below:


In a pioneering new initiative, the Royal Veterinary College is collecting left-over blood, urine and stool samples from dogs with autoimmune diseases into a biobank for use in future research studies.  When you pet has a blood test, some of the sample is often left over and would normally be thrown away.  Instead, with the consent of the owner, we will save this sample and make it available for researchers doing projects intended to improve the diagnosis and treatment of dogs with the same disease.  Collecting more samples allows us to do more ambitious research in future.

If you would like to know more about this initiative, please contact our Internal Medicine service.

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