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Idiopathic seborrhoea is a chronic skin disease characterised by excessive scale
production and greasiness. It particularly affects Cocker Spaniels , but also
other breeds of dog.
Causee precise cause of idiopathic seborrhoea is unknown, but affected animals
have accelerated basal cell turnover (keratinocytes).
Idiopathic seborrhoea occurs in two types :
- Primary seborrhoea is an inherited disorder and is seen in
several breeds of dog including : Bassett Hounds, Cocker Spaniels,
Dachshunds, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherd Dogs, Irish Setters,
Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, Shar Peis, Springer Spaniels and West
Highland White Terriers
- Secondary seborrhoea occurs secondary to almost any other
skin disease, and can occur in any animal.
The typical signs occur usually at 1-3 years of age and include :
- Increased scale production
- Keratinaceous plaque formation
- Smelly coat - especially associated with increased greasiness
- Pruritus - sometimes
Local dermatitis may occur particularly at the following sites as part of
this disorder :
- Labial folds
- External ear canal - otitis externa is very common in affected dogs
- Skin folds of the neck
- Interdigital skin
- On the trunk
ComplicationsSecondary infection with Malassezia pachydermatis or other bacteria
eg Staphylococcal spp is a common complication.
Diagnosis is based upon the presenting history, clinical signs and ruling out
other possible causes.
If the disease is secondary any primary skin problem should be treated eg
parasites, endocrine disorders, liver disease, gastrointestinal disease or
There is no specific treatment for primary seborrrhoea,
but the disease is controlled by topical therapy for the life of the animal,
including the following :
Jupicol and wood tar-based shampoos
Coal tar shampoos
Sulphur, salicylic acid and tar shampoos
- Moisturising hypoallergenic shampoos
Authors are split in their opinion about the use of some products , such as :
because these may dry the skin and coat too much, and so they should only
be used in the most severe, greasy cases.
Initially, frequent bathing may be needed - as often as once every 48
hours in very greasy cases, but overbathing can make matters worse.
If secondary infection is present:
- Ketoconazole (an antifungal) has been used in some cases
Other treatments which may prove useful in some cases include :
- Retinoids - to slow down cell kinetics eg etretinate.
- Sunflower oil
- Corticosteroids - avoid if possible due to immune-suppression.
prednisolone at 1-2mg/kg body weight/day has been used
- Cytotoxic drugs (methotrexate and azothioprine) have been used
successfully in a few cases , but it is too early to know if these will
offer a satisfactory method of treatment
In chronic cases no significant improvement may be seen for several
months after treatment is started.
Good , but a complete cure is rarely achieved
Updated October 2013