Ichthyosis is an autosomal recessive genetic mutation that affects the skin. The mutation prevents the outer layer of the epidermis from forming properly, resulting in skin that becomes darkened and thick and flakes excessively.
The name “Ichthyosis” is derived from the Greek word for fish, which describes the skin’s resemblance to fish scales. The most common symptom of ICH-A is excessive flaking of the skin. Other symptoms include areas of hardened skin and hyperpigmentation, which may make the skin appear dirty or blackened. Symptoms can be mild or severe. Evidence of the disease may be detected when the dog is still a puppy, but symptoms may take a year or more to develop. Additionally, symptoms can improve or worsen, depending on stress and hormonal cycles.
Ichthyosis is generally not dangerous to a dog’s health, but can be unsightly, and uncomfortable for the dog. ICH-A is frequently related to other health issues such as yeast overgrowth and fungal infections. An affected dog will usually require more care with special shampoos and treatments.
ICH-A is unfortunately quite common, but can be identified with a simple DNA test. An affected dog would need to inherit the mutation from both parents since the mutation is autosomal recessive. Asymptomatic carriers and affected dogs can be identified prior to breeding to avoid producing an affected pup.