Cutaneous Asthenia in Dogs

Cutaneous Asthenia in Dogs

Health & Safety

Cutaneous Asthenia is a hereditary disorder that affects a dog's skin and it causes it to sag and droop. The condition can be passed on to puppies from their parents because it is a genetic mutation. It is thought that more than just one genetic issue may be involved, but what is known for sure is that it can only be diagnosed by physical examination and not by taking tissue or skin samples.

Symptoms of the Condition

The condition develops because the levels of collagen in a dog's skin are not high enough. Collagen is a protein molecule that's needed because it provides both strength and elasticity to skin and ligaments as well as other parts of the body. In short, it is the glue needed to hold a dog's body together. When a dog develops the condition, it can lead to a lot of pain and discomfort because joints become dislocated. The reason being that without the necessary elasticity in a joint, it just continues to stretch out which then allows a bone to pop out"" of the joint.

Without the right levels of collagen in the skin, it can also affect its structure because without elasticity, skin starts to sag and droop. This means that a dog's skin is more easily damaged which includes injuries through tearing, bruising as well as scarring. Fortunately, Cutaneous Asthenia is a rare skin disease and only few dogs are affected by this painful condition with most of them being diagnosed when they are still very young.

Signs of a Problem

When a dog inherits the condition, they typically show the following symptoms of there being something wrong with their skin:

  • Skin becomes saggy and droopy - a lot of folds develop in the skin
  • Skin becomes soft and fragile because there is no elasticity
  • Skin gets easily torn leaving wide wounds with very little bleeding and where scars get wider as time goes by
  • Mysterious scars appear on a dog's body
  • Swelling under skin especially around the elbows
  • Bruising/haematomas around elbows and other areas of the body
  • Lacerations appear on the back of a dog’s head
  • Internal bleeding
  • Loose joints - hips, legs, elbows and other joints found in the body
  • Dislocation of the eye lens - very rare

Breeds Most at Risk of Inheriting the Condition

As previously mentioned, some breeds appear to be more at risk of inheriting the disorder than others and this includes the following although it must be said, the condition is very rare:

  • Beagle
  • Boxer
  • Dachshunds - Miniature and Standard
  • English Setter
  • English Springer Spaniel
  • German Shepherd
  • Greyhound
  • Irish Setter
  • Keeshond
  • Manchester Terrier
  • Poodle
  • Red kelpie
  • Saint Bernard
  • Welsh corgi -Cardigan andPembroke

Causes of the Condition

As previously mentioned, Cutaneous Asthenia is a hereditary disorder which is caused by either a dominant or recessive genetic mutation. If both parent dogs have the dominant gene, they could be carriers but not show any symptoms. When the gene is in its recessive form, one parent could be the carrier and again may not show any symptoms of having the condition. With this said, if a puppy is born with the condition, it is essential that neither parent dogs be used in a breeding programme again to avoid any further offspring inheriting the disorder and any puppies they produced should not be used for stud purposes either.

Diagnosing the Condition

A vet would test the elasticity of a dog's skin which they would do by extending it as far it would reach. There are no blood tests available nor is it possible to take a skin biopsy to determine whether a dog is suffering from the condition.

Treatment Options

Cutaneous Asthenia is an incurable disorder and therefore the prognosis is never very good for any dog suffering from the condition. Very often, it is kinder to put a dog to sleep rather than let them suffer the pain and discomfort associated with the disease. If a dog suffers a minor cut, it must be treated as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of infections setting in. As such a trip to the vet would be necessary even for a mild abrasion. Some research has shown that adding Vitamin C to a dog's diet can help improve the condition of their skin with vet's often recommending this be added to their diet to help manage any sort of skin condition. However, because the symptoms of Cutaneous Asthenia can be so severe, it is often kinder to put a dog to sleep rather than let them suffer.


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