Vitiligo – Color Changing Cats and Dogs

by K Marie Alto October 19, 2019 1 min read

Vitiligo – Color Changing Cats and Dogs

Photo Courtesy of: www.instagram.com/elli.vitiligo/

Vitiligo is a disease that causes the loss of skin pigmentation.  It can also cause hair to lose color.  While vitiligo only affects about 2% of the world’s human population, did you know it can also occur in cats and dogs?

Background

The skin contains melanocytes, a type of cell that produces melanin (the pigment that colors the skin). Vitiligo occurs when melanocytes are destroyed.  As the melanocytes die, the affected area of the skin and the associated fur will turn white. 

There are three main types of vitiligo:

  • Focal vitiligo: Affects only one or a very limited area of the skin.
  • Segmental or Unilateral vitiligo: Affects one side or an entire body part.
  • Generalized or Bilateral vitiligo: Affects the entire body either in a random or symmetric pattern.

Causes

While the exact cause of this disease is still unknown, some of the potential causes include an autoimmune system disease, stress, family history, and exposure to toxins.  It’s worth noting that most cases of vitiligo in pets seem to be hereditary.

Important Facts:

  • Vitiligo is NOT contagious.
  • Vitiligo is NOT painful.
  • Certain dog breeds are at a higher risk for developing vitiligo, some of these breeds include:
    • Belgian Tervurens
    • Rottweilers
    • Labrador Retrievers
    • German Shepherds

Have you ever met a doggy or kitty with vitiligo?

K Marie Alto
K Marie Alto

K. Marie is an animal lover, wife, kitty mom, dog auntie, writer and co-founder of Toe Beans, a proud American family-owned online boutique pet supplies store focused on the improvement of the life of furry family members via pet parent education, better products, and advocacy. She has over 20 years of experience as a pet momma. She loves sharing her personal journey and experience as a pet parent via her blog and Facebook page where she currently has more than 19K followers (@furrytoebeans) and counting :-).


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