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Acanthosis Nigricans

Acanthosis nigricans is primarily a disease of dogs which is manifested by an abnormal darkening of the skin. It can take on different forms depending on the root cause.

In Dachshunds, Acanthosis nigricans occurs as a genetic condition which is often considered as a primary form of the disease. A secondary form which has been traced to various causes can occur in any breed or age of dog.

The secondary form of Acanthosis nigricans is characterized by the mobilization of the melanin pigment to areas where chronic inflammation is developing. The melanin gives the skin its dark appearance.

Primary Acanthosis nigricans usually affect dogs which are less than a year old. It is manifested as the darkening and thickening of the skin. The condition starts as a symmetrical hyperpigmentation in the armpits. Seborrhea soon develops accompanied by greasy and foul-smelling areas of the body that creates a favorable environment for secondary infection to set in. The condition may affect large areas of the body including the chest, forelimbs, abdomen, hock, and groin.

There is no successful treatment for Primary Acanthosis nigricans. However it can be controlled with melatonin injections, steroids, and frequent use of anti-seborrheic shampoos.

Unlike the secondary form, the primary condition is quite rare and often diagnosed by examining the breed history and through biopsy. Your vet can examine skin scrapings to eliminate Demodicosis.

There are three main conditions which have been linked to the secondary form of Acanthosis nigricans.

1. Friction as a result of obesity or conformational abnormalities
2. Hypersensitivity reaction to food, contact allergies, and inhaled
3. Endocrine imbalances such as Cushing’s Disease, Hypothyroidism, or an
imbalance of the sex hormones.

Aside from the characteristic darkening of the skin, the secondary form can also cause chronic hair loss, itching, and other skin problems.

The treatment regimen for secondary Acanthosis nigricans involves treating the primary underlying condition either through thyroid medication, weight loss, and anti-allergy medication.

A low-dose steroid treatment can be given to help alleviate the inflammatory reaction in the skin. Supplementation with Vitamin E has also been demonstrated to be beneficial in speeding up the healing of some cases.

In majority of the cases, the condition will noticeably improve once the underlying cause has been identified and treated correctly.

Dogs which have been identified as carriers should never be allowed to mate in order to prevent the passing of the disease to its offspring.