Some diseases respect neither rank nor species.
Such is the case with Addison's disease, an adrenal gland disorder that can strike any breed of dog and any race of human, including former United States President John F. Kennedy. In cases of Addison's disease, the adrenal gland fails to produce enough steroid hormones, specifically two classes known as glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids. The disease itself is named after British physician Dr. Thomas Addison, who first recognized and wrote about the problem in 1855. [...]
Like many of today's dogs that have the benefit of dedicated breeders whose goal is the betterment of the breed, Old English Sheepdogs do not often suffer from a large number of inherited health problems. Despite this, though, there are some conditions that are occasionally seen in the breed and that can sometimes cause worry. Among these health issues there are a variety of conditions grouped under the category of autoimmune diseases.
The immune system is vital in protecting an animal's body from foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria; it acts somewhat like an army, attacking any cells that enter the body which do not belong in the body. Its action depends on the fact that it can recognize what cells belong to the body of an animal and what cells don't. When an animal has an autoimmune disease, something malfunctions in the immune system's capability to distinguish what is "self" and what is "non-self"; the immune system views some part of the body of the animal as foreign and believes it is a threat, attacking it. An autoimmune disease can involve a single organ, a certain area of the body, or the entire body; the severity of the condition is dependent on how large an area and what vital organs are involved. [...]