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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Acanthosis Nigrans




Condition Overview

Acanthosis nigrans literally means "thick black skin". Primary acanthosis nigrans is seen principally in Dachshunds. The age of onset is less than 1 year. This disease causes considerable distress to the dog and her owner.


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 pigmentation and a greasy, rancid discharge on the surface of the skin. Secondary bacterial infections are common.

Eventually the disease extends over a considerable area, covering the brisket (front of chest) and legs.


The exact cause is unknown. Secondary acanthosis nigrans occurs in all breeds in association with endocrine skin diseases, itchy skin diseases, and obesity.


A diagnosis can be made via physical examination.


Primary acanthosis should be treated by a vet. The disease is controllable but not curable. Most dogs can be kept comfortable with potent topical (and ocasionally oral) corticosteroids. Melatonin and vitamin E have been effective in some cases.

Antibiotics are used to treat secondary skin infections. Use anti-seborrhea shampoos to remove excess oil and bacteria. Weight reduction to reduce skin fold friction is desirable.


There is no know prevention for this condition.


Please contact your veterinarian if you think your pet may have this condition.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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