This pigmentation disorder affects a meager percentage of the population, both human and canine. Vitiligo in dogs manifests with bright ‘spots’ on certain parts of the body. We tell you more in the following article.
What to know about vitiligo in dogs
One of the dermatological problems that are less known is vitiligo. It is an imbalance in the production of melanin, and its main sign is the appearance of clear or white marks on different parts of the body.
Vitiligo in dogs is characterized by hypopigmented areas alternated with areas where pigmentation is average. Most often, it appears in the oral mucosa, nose, and lips. But beyond that, vitiligo is asymptomatic, so the dog doesn’t even realize he has it.
It is important not to confuse vitiligo in dogs with nasal depigmentation or the ‘ snow nose,’ in which depigmentation or repigmentation is depending on the time of year and the intensity of the sun. In some dogs, this condition also appears due to a lack of vitamin B.
Not much is known as to the origin of this problem, although it has been confirmed that it begins when there is a weakness in the immune system.
This means that the animal’s antibodies ‘attack’ the melanocytes as if they were harmful organisms, such as a virus or a bacterium.
The dog breeds most prone to vitiligo is the Siberian husky, the Alaskan Malamute, the Golden Retriever, the Labrador Retriever, the Dachshund, the Irish Setter, the Pointer, the Afghan Hound, the Poodle, the German Shepherd, and the Shepherd Belgian.
So far, no specific treatments are known to avoid or treat vitiligo in dogs, but since it is merely aesthetic and does not affect their quality of life, we should not worry too much.
Vitiligo in dogs: how to identify it
Taking into account that vitiligo in dogs is harmless and that it does not affect your health at all, it is equally useful to know if our pet suffers from it. Some recommendations to identify it are:
1. Color changes in the nose
It is the place par excellence where depigmentation appears, although not the only one in all cases. You can see that, where there was previously black or brown, now white or pink spots begin to appear. Consult with the veterinarian if these changes are not seasonal.
2. White spots
They can appear on any part of the body and not only affect the skin, but also the fur as if they were ‘groups’ of white, gray hair. They are more common on the face and near the eyes.
3. Even in puppies
We may think that vitiligo in dogs only affects older specimens, but it is a problem that can appear in the first months of life. You should keep in mind that the vitiligo does not disappear completely, but that it expands more and more, and the white spots may be more extensive overtime.
As it is a harmless disease, many owners avoid taking their pet to the vet for something merely aesthetic. However, we recommend that you allow a general test to check if there is no disease behind.
Changes in the color of the animal’s skin may be a sign of some pathology. To determine it, the professional performs a test that involves scratching a little skin and hair and then evaluating them.
It is essential to highlight the uveodermatological syndrome, which causes the immune system to attack the pigmentation cells. Beyond changing the color of hair or skin, this disease affects the eyes and can cause blindness.