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First of all, hello! This seems to be a really informative place so I'm hoping to get some insight on my dog's health issues!

I have a 3 (almost 4) year old Australian Shepherd who has been kind of diagnosed with lupus or pemphigus. About 4 months ago, she started getting crusties on her nose and on the corners of her mouth. I didn't really think anything of it, I thought it was just dry skin, but then it started showing up on her eyes, and she was starting to rub it and itch at it. I took her to the vet, who thought it was an allergic reaction to something. She gave Lucy a steroid shot and some antibiotics and told me to call back if it didn't go away.

It seemed to get better but when I ran out of pills, it came back even worse than before. I went back to the vet clinic (and ended up seeing a different vet, who I happen to think is better than the first) and he told me that it was probably lupus. He told me I could do a biopsy and get it confirmed, but that it wasn't necessary because the treatment was going to be the same either way. I opted not to do the biopsy and put Lucy on a course of Prednisolone.

The problem is that we've been doing Predisolone for a couple of months now and every time I try to start reducing the dosage, it comes back even worse than before. I also started using Cyclosporin drops on her eyes about a month ago, because the eyes are what really bother her. She gets big scabs around her eyes and her nostrils and it has even started going up the bridge of her nose.

I usually alternate between putting Vitamin E oil and coconut oil (which I read is supposed to be antibacterial and is recommended for dogs with lupus according to what I've researched online). And I try to put sunscreen on (Avalon Baby Organics Natural Mineral Sunscreenhttp://www.amazon.com/Avalon-Organics-Natural-Mineral-Sunscreen/dp/B000IZA1RE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1308458839&sr=8-1), but if I'm being totally honest, I don't put it on every day because I just forget. And there are definitely times when the sores on her nose split open and I don't want to be putting something on that might irritate her more =[ The vet also suggested giving her Niacinamide supplements, but I haven't tried that yet.

The vet has told me that it could be pemphigus instead of lupus but obviously we can't be sure unless I do a biopsy.

SO!

The real reason I'm writing this extremely long post is to get some advice from anyone who could possibly have experience or just general ideas for my dog.
1) Is a biopsy worth it as this point? Also, how would it help with future treatments?
2) Absolutely ANY ideas as to what this could be other than lupus or pemphigus? My sister suggested I get her tested for Lyme disease just in case. I'm open to anything at this point.
3) I'm going to try a different (and much higher quality) dog food as well, and see if that will help her. I'm deciding between Innova Evo, Blue Wilderness Salmon, and Go! Natural Grain Free Endurance. So if anyone has any experience with any of these, or any suggestions for something better that would be awesome!
4) My sister (who shows a Gordon Setter and does fancy dog show things) also suggested trying the Isle of Dogs Royal Jelly coat supplement http://www.amazon.com/Isle-Dogs-Coature-Supplement-shedding/dp/B002LAS6XA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1308456326&sr=8-2 to see if that helped at all.

Sorry this post is sort of the length of a novel, but I thought the more information I could give, the better. Any and all help is super appreciated!
 
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