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  • Post published:11/05/2021
  • Post last modified:11/05/2021
Vitiligo – Color Changing Cats and Dogs
The color changing tuxedo cat with vitiligo @elli.vitiligo
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?

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