What to know about vitiligo in dogs?
One of the lesser known skin problems is vitiligo. It is an imbalance in the production of melanin and its main characteristic is the appearance of clear or white spots on different parts of the body.
Vitiligo in dogs is characterized by hypopigmented areas that alternate with areas where pigmentation is normal. It most often occurs in the oral mucosa, nose and lips. But beyond that, vitiligo is asymptomatic, so the dog doesn't even notice that it has it.
It is important not to confuse vitiligo in dogs with nasal depigmentation or "snowy noses", where depigmentation or repigmentation occurs depending on the time of year and the intensity of the sun. In some dogs, this condition also occurs due to a lack of vitamin B.
Little is known about the origin of this problem, although it has been confirmed that it starts with a weak immune system. This means that the animal's antibodies "attack" the melanocytes as if they were pests such as viruses or bacteria.
The most susceptible to vitiligo are dog breeds such as Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Dachshund, Irish Setter, Pointer, Afghan Hound, Poodle and Shepherd German and Belgian Shepherd
No specific treatment is known to prevent or treat vitiligo in dogs, but since it is simply aesthetic and does not affect their quality of life, we should not be too concerned.
Symptoms of Vitiligo in Dogs
Because vitiligo is harmless in dogs and doesn't affect their health, it's also good to know if our dog is suffering. Here are some recommendations to identify it:
1. Color changes in the nose
It is the place par excellence where depigmentation takes place, but not the only one in all cases. You can see that where there used to be black or brown, white or pink spots are now appearing. Contact the veterinarian if these changes are not seasonal.
2. White spots
They can appear anywhere on 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 with puppies
You may think vitiligo affects only older specimens in dogs, but it's a problem that can occur in the first few months of life. Note that vitiligo does not completely disappear, but continues to expand and the white spots can become larger over time.
Because it is a harmless disease, many owners avoid taking their pet to the vet for cosmetic purposes only. However, it is recommended that a general test be approved to check that there is no disease.
Changes in the skin color of the animal can be a sign of a certain pathology. In order to determine this, the expert carries out a test which consists in scratching the skin and hair a little and then evaluating them.
Of particular note is the uveodermatological syndrome, in which the immune system attacks pigment cells. Aside from changing the color of your hair or skin, this disease affects the eyes and can lead to blindness.
Vitiligo in dogs is not harmful to health. So don't worry if the vet diagnoses this. Since there is no treatment for this problem, the specialist will certainly ask you to give him more vitamins - mainly those from the E complex - to strengthen his immune system and to ensure that the white spots do not spread throughout the body.