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LennyDVM, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
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Experience:  30 years as owner of a mobile practice treating dogs, cats, horses and other pets.
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Rottie: yr old male..Hes..stomach problems(windy,smelly,loose stools)

Resolved Question:

My 4 yr old male Rottie has been diagnosed with vitalligo. Hes a rescue dog and I dont know his history. Since Ive had him he had stomach problems(windy,smelly,loose stools). I had him tested and we ended up having to put him on a very expensive perscription food to settle him. It worked for the stomach problem but he later developed a white nose and white patches of hair on his body which are getting more and more noticable as time goes by. After a lot of tests & a biopsy he was diagnosed as having vitalligo. My vet doesnt seem very clued in about this and Ive looked around the net for info but havent found much. Im wondering if this is something to do with the stomach problems he has. He also drinks a lot and looses an excessive amount of hair. It seems to be some kind of auto immune disorder and can according to my vet be treated with immune system supressants if needed. Of late the patches have gotten more noticable and he seems stiffer than usual. Could this be something else.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  LennyDVM replied 8 years ago.

Rotties are among the breeds in which a hereditary vitiligo been described. White patches develop on the skin (leukoderma) and hair (leukotrichia) particularly on the nose, lips, mouth mucosa and face. Other areas can be affected including foot pads and nails. Onset is generally in young adult dogs (2-5).


The exact mechanism is unknown. Theories include immune mediated causes (antimelanocyte antibody formation), autotoxicity ( increased melanocyte susceptibility to destruction), nerve injury that affects melanocytes and viral association. Multiple mechanisms can be involved.


I can not associate stiffness with vitiligo; however, nail disease could cause pain and lameness.


Vitiligo is seen in other species including humans, cats and horses.


No successful treatment has been identified although rare cases regress spontaneously. The upside is that it is largely cosmetic. The exception is that affected nails may be shed and secondary infection can occur.



There are acquired causes of hypopigmentation, which may appear as graying or white spots. Inflammation can cause decreased pigmentation. Bite wounds often are marked by white hair. It can also develop secondary to a contact dermatitis from plastic an drubber food dishes, some drugs and some skin cancers. The skin and hair changes are cosmetic, but the underlying condition in acquired cases is not always benign.



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