Acanthosis Nigrans in dogs

Acanthosis nigrans literally means “thick, black skin.” Primary acanthosis nigrans is seen principally in Dachshunds. The age of onset is less than 1 year. The exact cause is unknown. Secondary acanthosis nigrans occurs in all breeds in association with endocrine skin diseases, itchy skin diseases, and obesity.

In Dachshunds, the disease affects the armpit folds, the ears, and the skin folds of the groin. As the disease progresses, you will see extreme black pig- mentation and a greasy, rancid discharge on the surface of the skin. Secondary bacterial infections are common. Eventually the disease extends over a con- siderable area, covering the brisket and legs. This disease causes considerable distress to the dog and her owner.

Treatment: Primary acanthosis should be treated by a veterinarian. The disease is controllable but not curable. Most dogs can be kept comfortable with potent topical (and occasionally, oral) corticosteroids. Melatonin and vitamin E have been effective in some cases. Antibiotics are used to treat secondary skin infections. Use antiseborrhea shampoos to remove excess oil and bacteria (see Seborrhea). Weight reduction to reduce skin fold friction is desirable.

Secondary acanthosis nigrans responds to treatment of the underlying skin problem.