We’re committed to keeping clients and staff safe during COVID-19 with NEW admittance and check-out processes. Learn more.

Ichthyosis in Dogs

By Robin Downing, DVM, DAAPM, DACVSMR, CVPP, CRPP

Medical Conditions, Pet Services

ichthyosis_in_dogsI have a young Cavalier King Charles spaniel who developed thickened foot pads that became very stiff and hard. The rest of his skin is thickened and feels greasy to the touch. His veterinarian did a skin biopsy, and I have been told he has a condition called ichthyosis. What is this disease, and how did he get it?

Ichthyosis is a very rare skin condition in dogs that is the result of a recessive genetic mutation. The mutation prevents the outer layer of skin from developing properly. Affected skin is rough and covered with thick, greasy flakes that stick to the hair. The term “ichthyosis” comes from the Greek word for fish, as the skin of these dogs resembles fish scales. In addition to the flakes and scales on the body, there may be areas of thickened skin with increased pigment, as well as thickening of the foot pads.

Breeds that have been recognized with ichthyosis include:

  • West Highland White Terriers
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Jack Russell Terriers
  • Norfolk Terriers
  • Yorkshire Terriers

Is ichthyosis treatable? Is it curable?

Ichthyosis worsens with age, and some dogs are more severely affected than others. The diagnosis is confirmed via skin biopsy. Once a dog is diagnosed with ichthyosis, the symptoms may be controlled with frequently applied medicated shampoos and rinses. Ichthyosis is chronic and incurable. Unfortunately, severely affected dogs may ultimately be euthanized due to their disease. Affected dogs, their parents, and their siblings should not be used for breeding.

Free First Exam

Our pet care experts can't wait to welcome you. 

Find a Local VCA

We're here for you and your pet in 43 states. 
Pet food, supplements & more.
Free shipping.
Shop Now
Loading... Please wait