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Home Bella Woof Signs of Canine Sebaceous Adenitis

Signs of Canine Sebaceous Adenitis

by Bella Woof

Sebaceous adenitis is a disease of the sebaceous glands in your dog’s skin. Healthy glands produce an oily substance, called sebum, that helps with hydration and moisture in the skin as well as being a barrier to pathogens.

In sebaceous adenitis, inflammation and immune responses destroy the glands. Dogs with this problem end up with brittle hair that cracks and falls out, leading to alopecia. Seborrhea and secondary bacterial infections are common.

Sebaceous adenitis is a relatively new recognized disease, first noted in 1986. A Swedish study found it more prevalent in the male dogs it was following.

Causes of Sebaceous Adenitis

Sebaceous adenitis is associated with some chronic conditions such as hypothyroidism, but it can be a primary illness with a genetic predisposition. Akitas and Standard Poodles have autosomal recessive inheritance, which means both sexes can be affected, and a dog must have two copies of the defect to show clinical signs. The Doodle breeds also can be prone to this disease. Other breeds can be affected as well with both long- and short-haired dogs as victims. Young to middle-aged dogs are most commonly diagnosed with this skin problem.

The Diagnosis

An accurate diagnosis requires a skin biopsy since many dermatologic problems can appear similar.

The Institute for Genetic Disease Control in Animals has an open registry for sebaceous adenitis in the Standard Poodle. It requires submitted biopsy results. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals has a similar listing service. Repeated biopsies are recommended for any dog used for breeding.


Treatment starts with medicated baths. After shampooing, a conditioner is recommended. This will be a lifelong requirement for affected dogs. Oral therapy is generally required as well.

Sebaceous adenitis is not responsive to corticosteroids. Omega fatty acids, systemic retinoids, cyclosporine, vitamin A, tetracycline, and niacinamide have all been used successfully. Some dogs may be able to have dosages decreased over time, but virtually all affected dogs will require some medication continued for life along with the baths.

Any secondary problems, such as pyoderma, will need to be treated as well.

Most dogs respond well to treatment, but it is imperative to continue treatment, so your dog doesn’t relapse.

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