Have you ever had to take a second glance at your dog because their fur looks a little… different? No, you’re probably not going mad; your dog’s skin and/or fur color could be changing. It’s all down to a little thing called hyperpigmentation, and today I’m going to give you a crash course in everything you need to know about it.
Are you sitting comfortably? If so, I shall begin.
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- What is Hyperpigmentation in Dogs
- Is Hyperpigmentation in Dogs Dangerous
- What Causes Hyperpigmentation in Dogs
- What Are the Symptoms of Hyperpigmentation in Dogs
- How to Treat Hyperpigmentation in Dogs
What is Hyperpigmentation in Dogs
Hyperpigmentation, also known as Acanthosis Nigricans in dogs, is a fairly common condition that causes changes to skin and fur color. Older dogs, for example, fade in color and turn grey or almost grey in the same way that humans get wrinkly and turn grey.
There are two types of dog hyperpigmentation:
This is the least common of the two types and seems to be present from birth or very soon after. The very first symptoms and color-changing usually appear quite early, before the age of one year. Dachshunds are believed by MSD Manual experts to be the only breed affected by primary hyperpigmentation, and it can be managed but not cured.
This is the most common type of this condition, found in every breed of dog. Certain breeds are at a higher risk due to predisposition, including Dachshunds, Chow Chows, and Shar-Peis.
Dachshunds can suffer from both primary and secondary hyperpigmentation at the same time. (Poor doggos!) For this reason, it’s a good idea to monitor them a little more than with other breeds, especially when it comes to the state of their skin and fur. Use pet cameras and other innovative new pet tech to pick up on increased scratching, decreased movement, or any other changes from their regular behavior.
Is Hyperpigmentation in Dogs Dangerous
By themselves, skin and fur color changes aren’t all that dangerous. It’s mostly an aesthetic change, especially as your pup ages. Some underlying conditions that cause hyperpigmentation in dogs as a symptom, however, can be dangerous.
One cause of secondary hyperpigmentation is infection, which, if left untreated, can cause serious complications, such as sepsis. This can result in amputation and, in the worst-case scenario, the death of your poor fur baby.
It is just not worth taking the risk and ignoring changes to your pet’s appearance, behavior, or anything else. Something minor, such as a bacterial infection of the skin, could quickly turn into something deadly, such as sepsis.
What Causes Hyperpigmentation in Dogs
Scientists, experts, and overall brainy people are still looking into the causes of primary hyperpigmentation in Dachshund breeds. As of yet, the condition is not fully understood.
Secondary hyperpigmentation, on the other hand, is quite well studied at this point. The simplest causes of skin and fur color changes include chafing, rubbing, sweating, and the natural aging process.
Other causes, however, aren’t so simple. Some of the slightly more complex causes are:
- Lupus, pemphigus, and other autoimmune disorders;
- Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism, and other endocrine disorders;
- Atopic dermatitis and other chronic allergies;
- Fungal, viral, or bacterial infections;
- Embedded foreign bodies;
- Trauma and injury.
As you can see, this symptom could be a sign of something super minor… or super major. The only way to find out for sure is to have a chat with a vet and then have your pet examined.
What Are the Symptoms of Hyperpigmentation in Dogs
Although you might expect simple color changes to be the only symptom of dog hyperpigmentation, it comes with a few other symptoms that you should look out for. These include:
- Darkening of the hair and/or skin in patches;
- Increased itching and/or scratching in localized areas;
- Hair loss;
- Reddening and thickening of the skin;
- Whining, snapping, and other pain-based doggy behavior.
You should also make note of the symptoms of skin infections, such as discharge of fluid or blood, a growing problematic patch, inflammation, crusting or scabbing of the skin, a bad smell, and pus-filled pimples or pustules. If you notice these, it’s time to make an URGENT veterinary appointment.
An interactive pet camera allows you to monitor your pet in real time, so you can keep an eye on any changes to your dog’s skin. You’ll also be able to spot the signs of irritation even though you’re not at home, and you can use the footage as a reference to provide to your vet. You can track the overall condition of the hyperpigmentation patches, too!
How to Treat Hyperpigmentation in Dogs
Doggy hyperpigmentation is usually a symptom of something rather than an issue in and of itself. The fur and skin changes won’t go away until the condition that’s causing them is treated.
Does YOUR Dog’s Hyperpigmentation Need Treatment
Not sure whether or not your dog is suffering from hyperpigmentation? Why not have a chat with one of Petcube’s vets? They’re on hand any time of the day or night to receive your shoutout for help, and they’ll point you in exactly the right direction to resolve your pet problem. In many cases, a face-to-face vet appointment won’t be necessary, so your online chat will cut out the cost, time, effort, and stress associated with taking your four-legged friends to the vet.
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It’s not easy being a pet parent sometimes, and it’s not a pleasant job when your pampered pets are experiencing a medical issue. You’re not alone, though.
All of us here at Petcube are here for all of your pet care needs. And we can assure you that you’re doing a great job!
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