Vitiligo in Dogs

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If your dog starts experiencing skin discoloration, vitiligo could be the culprit. While there's no cure or real treatment for this condition, it's simply cosmetic and your dog isn't otherwise affected. Since vitiligo usually has a genetic basis, canines with vitiligo should not be bred. If your dog experienced an injury, it's possible that his hair or skin will not come back in the same shade once it heals.

Pigment changes generally affect the nose, lips, muzzle, nails, footpads and skin surrounding the eyes. Formally dark areas turn pink or white. It can affect the hair as well as the skin, with white or gray hair patches occurring. In some dogs, the condition is permanent, while in others pigment may eventually return, at least partially.

Affected Breeds

While any dog might develop vitiligo, the depigmentation occurs more often in certain breeds. These include the dachshund, golden retriever, Siberian husky, Doberman pinscher, Rottweiler, Australian shepherd, Irish setter, Old English sheepdog, Shetland sheepdog, Saint Bernard and Samoyed. Vitiligo generally appears before the dog's third birthday.

Veterinary Diagnosis

If the depigmented skin exhibits lesions or any type of inflammation, including itchiness, it's probably not vitiligo. Take your pet to the vet for testing, in case the pigment loss results from another cause. Your vet can perform a skin biopsy to confirm whether your dog has vitiligo. Anecdotal evidence indicates that certain nutritional supplements may aid in pigment restoration, but there's no scientific proof. Ask your vet if such supplements might benefit your dog -- even if his skin remains discolored.

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