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Zinc Responsive Dermatoses

Written by Dr. Alice Crook and taken from the Canine Inherited Disorders Database with permission

What is zinc-responsive dermatosis?

This disorder causes scaling and crusting of the skin. It is not due to a dietary deficiency of zinc; instead affected dogs appear to have a higher than normal requirement for zinc, perhaps due to abnormal intestinal absorption. As the name implies, the skin condition improves with zinc supplementation.

Young fast-growing puppies of large breeds such as Doberman Pinschers and Great Danes sometimes experience a similar condition due to a transient zinc deficiency.

How is zinc-responsive dermatosis inherited?

The mode of inheritance is unknown.

What breeds are affected by zinc-responsive dermatosis?

Alaskan Malamute, American Eskimo Dog, Samoyed, and Siberian Husky.  Young rapidly growing Doberman Pinschers and Great Danes sometimes experience a similar condition due to a transient zinc deficiency.

For many breeds and many disorders, the studies to determine the mode of inheritance or the frequency in the breed have not been carried out, or are inconclusive. We have listed breeds for which there is a consensus among those investigating in this field and among veterinary practitioners, that the condition is significant in this breed.

What does zinc-responsive dermatosis mean to your dog & you?

Signs are usually first seen around puberty. There is reddening, scaling, crusting, and hair loss on the muzzle and around the eyes. The footpads as well as the area around the vulva and anus may be affected. The lesions are itchy in about half of dogs with this disorder, causing chewing of the feet or rubbing or pawing at the face.

How is zinc-responsive dermatosis diagnosed?

The diagnosis is made through a skin biopsy. This is a simple procedure done with local anesthetic, in which your veterinarian removes a small sample of your dog’s skin for examination by a veterinary pathologist. The biopsy will show changes characteristic of this condition.

How is zinc-responsive dermatosis treated?

Temporary zinc supplementation is effective in treating the transient zinc deficiency that may occur in young rapidly growing Great Danes and Doberman pinschers.

Affected dogs of the Northern breeds must receive dietary supplementation of zinc for life, or the signs will recur.

Breeding advice

Affected dogs and close relatives (parents, siblings) should not be bred.