Acanthosis Nigricans in Dogs: Symptoms and Diagnosis

What is It?

Acanthosis nigricans is a spot of darkening pigmentation on the skin.

What Causes It?

There are two categories of acanthosis nigricans.

  • Primary acanthosis nigricans is hereditary and almost exclusively seen in Dachshunds. The gene or grouping of genes that cause this condition have yet to be identified so it is not possible to avoid it through DNA testing. Primary acanthosis nigricans is not curable, but the condition is manageable with medication.
  • Secondary acanthosis nigricans can happen in any breed. The root cause can be bacterial infections, yeast infections, allergies, hypothyroidism, obesity, mange, or insect bites. Once the underlying cause has been identified and treated, secondary acanthosis nigricans can clear up.

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What Are The Symptoms?

  • Dark discoloration of skin
  • Thickening skin
  • Seborrhea
  • Itchiness
  • Pain in inflamed areas
  • Hair loss

Is it Life Threatening?

No. It can be painful and should be seen by a vet as early as possible.

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How is It Diagnosed?

Either classification would require a full physical examination and medical history questionnaire. Primary may require a biopsy to rule out secondary. Secondary will require further testing to pinpoint the underlying cause so it can be treated.

What Are The Treatments?

  • Primary acanthosis nigricans is not curable. The condition can be managed with steroids, melatonin injections and bathing with anti-seborrheic shampoo.
  • Secondary acanthosis nigricans requires diagnosing and treating the underlying condition. These treatments include allergy medicine, thyroid medication, topical antibiotics, corticosteroids, anti-inflammatories, vitamin E, and weight loss.  

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pup’s condition, please make an appointment with your veterinarian. Or, consult a virtual vet here.

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