This is a condition characterised by darkening and thickening of the skin. It is not exactly a disease but rather a response of the body to particular conditions.
Hyperpigmentation of skin in dogs manifests itself as light-brown-to-black, rough patches of thick and hairless skin. It commonly occurs in the groin area and legs, with the symptoms always being caused by repeated friction and inflammation. Hyperpigmentation can either be primary or secondary. The primary variety is quite rare, only affects the Dachshund breed, and can be seen by the time the dog is 1 year old. On the other hand, secondary hyperpigmentation is frequently reported in most dog breeds, especially breeds susceptible to hormonal imbalances, contact dermatitis, obesity, skin diseases, and allergic reactions.
The patches of skin usually have red edges which is indicative of a yeast or secondary infection. As time passes, the infection may spread to the groin, section between the genitals and anus, hocks, ears, eyes, lower neck, and abdomen. Some itching may be evident, usually due to secondary infection or an underlying disease. As the condition gets worse, more symptoms are seen, such as discharge of fluid, development of infections, and loss of hair.
The condition can only be diagnosed by examining the signs on the affected animal. Your veterinarian will naturally want to do away with other potential causes of the signs, especially when dealing with a young Dachshund. In order to establish an underlying cause, it is necessary to conduct a careful background check and a physical examination. The presence of parasites is eliminated by taking scrapings of the skin, particularly in young dogs. Bacterial infections are verified through the use of impression smears. It may also be necessary to confirm whether there are any underlying hormonal irregularities by performing endocrine function tests for adrenal and thyroid diseases. Allergies can be diagnosed by using both skin tests and food trials. Secondary bacterial infections that are still undiscovered can be diagnose via skin biopsies, and in majority of cases, it is these infections that are treated first before other diagnostic tests are conducted.
There is no cure for primary hyperpigmentation in Dachshunds. Where the infections are diagnosed early, steroid ointments and shampoo treatment can be used for treatment. Medicated shampoos are quite useful when it comes to eliminating excess oil and smell. As the symptoms get worse, alternative treatments such as injections or oral medication may be beneficial. It is also recommended that secondary infections be treated prior to steroids being administered.
Unlike the primary variety, secondary hyperpigmentation tends to dissipate on its own as soon as the underlying cause has been diagnosed and treated. Nevertheless, it is important to first treat and manage the yeast and secondary bacterial infections. Most veterinarians prefer to prescribe appropriate antibiotics and medicated shampoos to be used 2 to 3 times a week, as these treatments help to contain the infections. Patience is required during such treatment programs, as the symptoms of hyperpigmentation dissipate at a slow rate. It might take months before the dog’s skin regains any normality.