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Breed Club Testing For Sebaceous Adenitis In Dogs

Sebaceous adenitis is a skin condition that causes the sebaceous glands of the skin to become sore and inflamed, which may also be accompanied fur loss.

Whilst the condition can potentially present in any dog breed, it is a hereditary condition that has become prevalent within certain breeds of dog to the point that it is considered to affect a large enough number of dogs of the breed as to warrant attention from the relevant breed clubs and organisations.

The condition is mainly found within the Samoyed, Japanese Akita and standard poodle, and of course potentially crossbreeds with ancestry from one of these breeds. Due to the popularity of the poodle in designer crosses, this means that a wide range of different hybrid breeds such as the Labradoodle and Cockapoo may be affected too.

This in turn has led to breed clubs such as The Standard Poodle Club and the Akita Association setting up their own testing schemes for the condition, and encouraging their members to have their own dogs tested.

Exactly how badly any given dog is affected by sebaceous adenitis can vary from case to case as well, with the worst cases leading to issues such as scaly skin, prolific dandruff, hair loss and a bad smelling coat, as well as the potential for the development of secondary problems such as skin infections. However, some dogs that have the condition may be virtually unaffected, and suffer from no problems at all.

In this article, we will look at sebaceous adenitis in the Samoyed, standard poodle and Japanese Akita in more detail, including how the condition can be tested for, and how the condition is passed on from dog to dog. Read on to learn more.

More about sebaceous adenitis

Sebaceous adenitis can be a challenging condition to diagnose in the first instance, as the symptoms of the condition are shared with many others, and there is no fixed age of onset of the condition. The earliest cases recorded have begun at around one year of age, whilst some dogs will not become symptomatic until they are over ten years old.

Additionally, whilst the condition is hereditary, the type of heredity responsible for it and the gene mutation (or mutations) that lead to the condition have not been identified; however, researchers into the condition currently agree that sebaceous adenitis is most likely transmitted by means of autosomal recessive heredity.


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What sort of dogs should be tested for the condition?

If you own a dog that is one of the three breeds above that are considered to be at higher level of risk for the condition than others, you may wish to get your dog tested in order to find out their status and know what to expect, even if they appear healthy. Knowing that your dog has tested positive for sebaceous adenitis allows you to keep a close eye on their skin and coat, and so, gives you a better chance of identifying the beginnings of the condition and being able to get on top of it.

If you own a dog from one of the above breeds and wish to breed from them, the relevant breed clubs for each respective breed strongly advocate for pre-breeding health screening, in order to improve the health of the breed as a whole and reduce the birth rates of puppies with the condition.

How is the test performed?

Sebaceous adenitis cannot be diagnosed by means of DNA testing, but instead requires veterinary examination and a punch biopsy of the skin, to take a sample that can then be screened by a veterinary skin specialist. The biopsy is usually performed under local anaesthetic.

Results for skin samples are interpreted in one of four ways:

  • A normal result means that the dog shows no evidence of the condition at the time of the biopsy.
  • An affected dog shows clear indications of the condition at the time of the biopsy.
  • A sub-clinically affected dog will appear to be normal and healthy with no signs of skin or coat problems, but the biopsy itself will reveal the markers of sebaceous adenitis.
  • An equivocally affected dog will show some indications of a problem, such as inflammation of the skin, however, the cause cannot be definitively identified as sebaceous adenitis, and the dog should be re-tested in three to six months.

How to get your dog tested

In order to get your dog tested for the sebaceous adenitis, you will need to make an appointment with your vet for a punch biopsy. To avoid skewing the results of the test, the dog’s fur should be free of any substances such as skin or coat sprays and conditioners, and the dog should not have had a bath for at least a fortnight before the exam. Additionally, the skin sample must be taken at least three or four inches away from the site of any topical spot-on flea or worming treatments.

The biopsy is then sent off to a specialist veterinary dermatologist for examination, and the results returned to the dog owner.


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