When we speculate on vitiligo, we often imagine the abnormal skin coloring condition that plagues humankind. But were you aware that vitiligo also besets our animal friends, too? From dogs to cats and birds to giraffes, the members from every corner of the wildlife kingdom can suffer from vitiligo.
What Is Vitiligo?
While vitiligo is a rarity in both humans and animals, the basic definition for all species remains unchanged. It’s a permanent condition that affects the skin’s pigmentation, producing white patches on the outer layer of the skin. hair growing from a stricken area will also change to white.
As the melanocyte cells that produce pigment become vitiated, they eventually wither and die. Without the melanin the melanocytes yield, coloration dissipates—slowly at first, and may speed up over time.
What symptoms Do Animals with Vitiligo Present?
Symptoms in animals with vitiligo will vary among species, but the first signs of the condition usually manifest in the face. whitening of the skin and fur or hair typically begins with the nose and surrounding region, then will spread to around the eyes and mouth.
Vitiligo can spread even further as well, becoming apparent on the feet or paws, and elsewhere. In overarching terms, vitiligo does not discriminate.
Beyond the coloring changes, vitiligo doesn’t hurt or cause any pain or discomfort to the animal in question.
What Causes Vitiligo in Animals?
Despite its proliferation, the exact cause is inconclusive. Some valid research suggests that some animals are genetically predisposed to the peculiar discoloration condition, as it appears to be hereditary.
Other causes may include autoimmune disorders, where the body’s reaction to foreign substances impels the immune system to fight the infection or invader incorrectly, negatively impacting physical constitution—with vitiligo, the complexion deteriorates.
Further potential explanations for vitiligo include:
- Undue, excessive stress
- Genetic imbalance of anti oxidative substances and free radicals
- Severe sunburn or sun damage
- Chemical subjection
- Viral agents
- Neurological afflictions
What has been confirmed, however, is that vitiligo is not contagious, and animals cannot pass it along by mere skin contact and exposure to the disease does not pose any risks for contraction.
Vitiligo in dogs
Certain breeds of man’s best friend are more susceptible to vitiligo than others—though this doesn’t denote all other breeds are safe from the depigmentation disorder.
The following list pertains to the breeds who struggle with vitiligo more than others.
- Belgian Tervurens
- Doberman Pinschers
- German Shepherds
- Golden Retrievers
- Siberian Huskies
The incidences of Rottweilers with vitiligo is thought to prevail over other breeds. Perhaps, though, Rottweilers with vitiligo are more positively diagnosed, as their owners are typically used to this breed have a very dark color. Rottweilers are most often bred as black dogs, so a quickened, shocking lightening or whitening on the snout of a Rottweiler will be glaringly obvious when compared to the lightening of a Samoyed’s pigmentation, or an Old English sheepdog, for example.
Vitiligo is more common in purebreds, which makes a case for its congenital properties.
Vitiligo in cats
Some felines also struggle with reduced melanin patches in their skin, hair color, and coat. The reasons for manifestation are the same as in their canine counterparts, and it doesn’t provide any sort of discomfort to our darling pets.
The fascinating nature of Siamese Cats, and how their distinctive coloration is contingent upon outside temperature forces, makes them even more prone to the unpredictability of vitiligo. When anatomical structures of the Siamese Cat are cool, their pretty fur goes darker. This bewitching coloring characteristic is actually a result of their partiality to albinism, rather than an indicator of vitiligo, however, this breed is more vulnerable to the latter for its skin sensitivity.
Instances of beautiful Vitiligo patterns in Animals
Perhaps you recall the precious face of famed rowdy, the native Oregon canine who bears rather intriguing colorless circular markings around his eyes? This vitiligo dog is a black labrador, so the contrasting white rings on his face give him a rather unique and striking appearance, thus launching him into viral Instagram and internet fame. Though he’s renowned for his facial markings, the vitiligo also spread to Rowdy’s inner hind legs.
Then there’s scrappy, the kitty who was born entirely black from head to toe, who now dons a coat of fur that’s beautifully speckled in white spots all over his body. pictures of Scrappy the vitiligo cat brings joy to cat lovers everywhere.
The markings of vitiligo are often so gorgeous, it would be unsurprising for a breeder to try and achieve a similar look in puppy and kitten offspring of vitiligo adult dogs and cats.
Other Animals with Vitiligo
Not just a disorder worn by cats and dogs, vitiligo has given many different kinds of animals beautiful markings on their skin, fur, hair, and feathers.
Instances recorded include the following types of fauna:
- Birds of many varieties as well have been identified with vitiligo, such as owls, geese, penguins, blackbirds.
Whether you’re the proud owner of the more popular domesticated of animals, like a cat or dog, or if you look after a birdie or a horse, what’s most important to realize is that this skin condition isn’t painful for your playmate, so enjoy their distinct uniqueness in all its beauty.
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