Black Skin Disease in Dogs

Black skin disease in canines is also known as alopecia X and causes hair loss and strongly pigmented skin, or black skin, as the name suggests. Male dogs and certain dog breeds are more exposed to black skin disease, but it may affect dogs of any age, breed or sex. The disease can affect the dog to such an extent that he needs medication, but in some cases the condition will go away on its own.

Causes of Black Skin Disease

A clear cause of black skin disease in dogs hasn't been established yet. The disease has been linked to obesity, hormonal imbalance, genetic factors or allergies. Even though the condition can occur at any age, most dogs will develop the disease after puberty.

Symptoms of Black Skin Disease

A dog with black skin disease will present hyper-pigmented skin and symmetrical hair loss. The dog may lose a lot of hair and may be left with the secondary hair that is softer and is also known as the puppy coat. After a while, the puppy coat may also be lost, leaving the dog with bald spots. The hair loss is more common on the belly area, under the tail or genital area. In extreme cases, the dog may be left only with hair covering his head and paws.

The dog may also present some changes in appetite or thirst. Some dogs may lack appetite, while others may eat and drink more than usual. The condition can also cause skin infections in rare cases. The symptoms of the disease may be similar to the symptoms of Cushing's, hormonal imbalance or other skin infections, so a vet needs to diagnose the dog.

Diagnosing Black Skin Disease

There are no particular tests that can be performed to diagnose alopecia X. This is the reason why several tests will be performed.

After a thorough examination of the dog, the vet may perform some blood tests, a chemistry panel to determine if the thyroid gland has a normal activity, tests for Cushing's disease as well as skin sample to detect any possible bacterial or fungal skin infections.

Treatment Options

If your dog has black skin disease, the vet will let you know if treatment is recommended. In some cases, the disease can go away without medication. However, the vet will establish whether medication is needed. The drugs prescribed will depend on the possible cause of the disease.

If the dog has thyroid problems, hormonal therapy will be recommended. Talk to your vet about possible side effects of a hormonal therapy that can lead to diabetes or other serious complications.

If black skin disease in your dog is linked to obesity or allergies, the vet will advise you to keep your dog on a diet and avoid certain allergens.

If the cause of black skin disease is not detected, the vet will monitor your pet, but will not prescribe any medication.

Any secondary skin infection accompanying black skin disease should be treated with fungicides or antibiotics, depending on the type of infection.