Vitiligo in Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide in 5 Basic Steps

Vitiligo is a skin disorder that is common to humans and animals and results in patchy area color loss. Vitiligo in dogs is not painful; it only causes visible changes in the appearance of your pet. Here we’ll discuss all basic and must-to-know factors. Change in body pigments might be unattractive to the dog owner if he was unfamiliar with it. If your dog is under stress, it might be the cause; otherwise, your dog stays happy even after acquiring vitiligo.


Dog Vitiligo


Furthermore, if you’re feeling uncomfortable with its patchy skin, you can ask the vet to darken that specific area externally. It is also referred to as a rare autoimmune disease that is hereditary in nature and harmlessly affects epidermal melanocytes. Humans also have melanin that involves the coloration of skin, eyes, or other body parts. The color fades away when something affects melanin-producing cells resulting in white spots on dogs.

1. Symptoms of Vitiligo in Dogs

The most apparent sign is the whitening of the skin, fur, or mucosa when the dog is dark in color. These signs can appear on any body part of the dog and may also appear alike.  You can observe it on your dog’s legs, nails, feet, and neck. It’s also possible that the whole-body pigments fade away rather than a small portion. However, vitiligo commonly attacks lips, gums, nasal openings, ears, eyelids, and eyelashes.

Black or brown color disappears, and the area becomes pinkish white that gives quite a unique look to your dog.  Remember, the condition is most common in young dogs (in their adulthood). Thankfully, it doesn’t cause any irritation, itching, rash, ulcer, or inflammation in your dog.

Clinical Prospects

  • We can summarize the whole discussion as:
  • Dog skin lesions appear mostly on the nose.
  • Significant in young dogs.
  • Not sex-specific.

Which Dog Breeds Get Vitiligo

Vitiligo in animals is unusual behavior, and it is not concerned with a specific dog breed. Dog vitiligo is more common in some breeds like:

  • German Shepherds
  • Rottweilers
  • Giant Schnauzers
  • Belgian Tervurens
  • Collies
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Tiny Dachshund
  • Newfoundland
  • Doberman Pinchers
  • German Shorthaired Pointers
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs
  • Beauceron Shepherds

Purebred dogs are more susceptible to get it than others as a hereditary disorder. If it affects your dog’s nose, the phenomenon is a snow nose appearance. It produces random depigmented patterns even on the paws.

2. Causes of Vitiligo in Dogs

There is no specific evidence that what represses melanocytes in real? Scientists consider genetics as a major cause of dog vitiligo that is transmitted from generation to generation. But another theory supports immune-mediated response. It means that your dog produces particular antibodies in response to a stimulus that destroys melanocytes. Stress is a potential factor of dogs with vitiligo that occurs due to adverse health conditions. Moreover, toxic exposure also inhibits the functional activity of melanin-producing cells.

3. How to Diagnose?

Initial diagnosis is the visual detection of the depigmentation of your dog’s body parts. You must call a veterinarian for a complete physical check-up of your dog, who will review your dog’s complete history. The condition is not much concerning as it’s not dreadful or puts your pet in pain. A vet doctor performs Skin Biopsies to confirm the absence or presence of vitiligo in your dog.  Moreover, skin scrapping from the faded area is another diagnostic way, including blood tests. It helps to rule out hypothyroidism, which occurs due to hormonal imbalance in your dog’s body. If anxiety is the cause, you should have to change his place or give more time to your lovely pet than usual.

The condition is prominent if your dog belongs to the Rottweiler breed as people used to see it in black. However, animals with vitiligo are safe and even healthy; so, don’t worry and keep enjoying your dog’s new look. The experts examine the skin and blood samples under a microscope to observe any unusual activity. If the veterinarian shows a satisfied response, it means your dog is safe from other life-threatening diseases.

4. Treatment of Vitiligo in Dogs

There is no requirement and no conventional treatment for vitiligo recovery in animals. It only changes your dog’s appearance being harmless and painless. The new look of your lovely and loyal four-legged fellow gives him a weird look that is appreciable. Some pet owners apply treatment protocols that are in use for human skin disorders. You can suggest ultraviolet phototherapy & immunosuppressive medication treatments to your veterinarian, but the results are mostly unsatisfactory. Interestingly, some dogs instantly regain pigments in affected parts naturally without any treatment.

Dogs with vitiligo don’t know what happened to them, but the changes are irritating for some owners while others enjoy it.

Other Causes of Depigmentation in Dogs

It might result from an aging factor in dogs; so, don’t confuse aging with vitiligo as the latter occurs in your age. Other disorders that are responsible for color changes in dogs are:

  • Kidney Disorder
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Liver Disease

There is a gland in the neck involves in thyroxin hormone production, necessary for a healthy metabolism. When the gland fails to produce the required amount of thyroxin results in hypothyroidism. Hence, it may cause color disappearance in dogs and may affect the quality of life if not treated on time.

5. Recovery of A Vitiligo Dog

It’s a sporadic condition that a dog regains the same color naturally. Once your doctor confirmed its vitiligo, you have to admit it as soon as you can for mental peace. You can also add antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids in your companion’s diet plan after consulting with the veterinarian. Try to spend more time with your companion and provide him with a stress-free environment. Moreover, you can also add vitamin C in your dog’s food to improve its mental health.

Vitiligo vs Albinism in Dogs

Albinism is a congenital disorder that responds to the absence of skin and hair pigments. It results in the whitening of hair and gives oink color to the eyes. But vitiligo is different from it in three aspects.

  1. Vitiligo can attack at any time in your dog’s life span, while albinism comes with his birth.
  2. In dogs, vitiligo occurs due to some factor that kills the actively working melanocytes, while albinism happens due to the inactivity of melanin-producing cells.
  3. Vitiligo forms patches on your dog’s skin; in contrast, albinism results in depigmentation of the whole body.

 Pityriasis Versicolor Vs. Vitiligo

Both are two different skin diseases as:

  1. After getting vitiligo, your dog’s skin remains smooth, but pityriasis results in the scaly appearance of the infected part.
  2. Vitiligo in dogs mostly attacks near the mouth, fingers, groin, and armpits. However, it’s more likely to be pityriasis if it appears on the chest, neck, tummy area, or dog’s back.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How to Stop Vitiligo Phenomenon in Dogs?

As discussed above, it’s a hereditary disorder and transmits from parents (one generation) to their offspring (next generation). Vitiligo can be controlled by stopping the breeding of dogs that already have the same disease. Since no one claims the leading cause behind this condition, no one can resist it from happening.

2. Is Vitiligo A Transmittable Disorder?

No, vitiligo in animals is not contagious to animals or humans. It’s not zoonotic or infectious but a genetic disorder.

3. Is vitiligo in dogs is Dangerous?

No, its harmless and painless to your dog, only concerning the depigmentation of some body parts.

4. How Common is Vitiligo in Dogs?

Mostly, it appears before the age of thirty but can occur at any time during your dog’s life span. The condition is common at twelve, which response to nearly thirty-seven percent of total vitiligo dogs.

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