Golden Shepherds are definitely synonymous with the phrase “lustrous beautiful coat” which they have inherited from their ancestors. Unfortunately, along with their exceptional traits, a number of skin diseases have been passed on to them including Ichthyosis. Ichthyosis is often misdiagnosed especially in Golden Retrievers. So, let’s take a deeper look at this rare condition.
Canine Ichthyosis, what does it look like?
Canine Ichthyosis is a rare chronic skin disease. Ichthyosis can vary from mild to severe. Fortunately, Golden Retrievers are commonly affected by the mild type. In Europe alone, more than 50% of the Golden Retriever population are carriers of Ichthyosis. So, how did this happen? Ichthyosis is a hereditary disease of autosomal recessive mutation. This means that for a Golden Retriever to have Ichthyosis symptoms, both of its parents should have Ichthyosis. If a Golden Retriever with Ichthyosis will mate with a Golden Retriever without Ichthyosis, their litter will not show any symptoms or signs of the disease at all. In short, their puppies are still carriers of the disease but have lesser chances of passing down the ichthyosis genes unless they will be paired with another carrier.
The good thing about this disorder is that not all Golden Retrievers are carriers of the Ichthyosis gene. However, the problem with Ichthyosis is that it looks very similar to many other skin diseases common to all dog breeds. Thus, it has always been misdiagnosed since the 1990s. But, as cases of Ichthyosis have been piling up, only then that it was identified as a hereditary disorder specific to some dog breeds especially in Golden Retrievers.
Sign and Symptoms of Ichthyosis Golden Retriever
Ichthyosis signs and symptoms may appear in as young as one-month-old puppies or may not be seen at all until after they are one year or older. Here are notable symptoms of Ichthyosis.
Scales and Dandruff
Ichthyosis is named after the Greek word for fish due to the appearance of scales on their skin. Scaling or flaking of the skin may range from mild to moderate and may affect the whole body over time. Scaling may come and go depending on their hormonal and stress levels. Some owners may also notice white to gray dandruff that falls off every time they brush their fur and everywhere their Golden Retrievers stay. This dandruff is more noticeable on the belly and back area.
Skin Darkening and Roughness
Skin in the abdomen area may appear to be very rough with thick and greasy scales due to moisture loss. Because of the rough, thick and greasy-looking patches, the stomach area looks very dirty and darker in color.
In some cases, a thickening of the footpads is observed. Though very rare, paw pads can be enlarged causing pain and difficulty in walking.
How is Ichthyosis diagnosed?
Ichthyosis Golden Retriever can be very mild that sometimes breeders and owners don’t have the slightest idea. In some instances, Golden Retriever puppies have profuse dandruff but eventually resolves on its own. To rule out this condition, there are tests that vets can do. The vet can perform a skin biopsy by using local anesthesia to numb the skin and remove a small skin sample. While some vets choose to do ICT-A testing. ICT-A or Golden Retriever Ichthyosis DNA test is painless and very simple. The vet will do a simple cheek swab in the mouth and gets the results within a few days. The Ichthyosis Golden Retriever test results may come back as:
- Affected – Both parents of the tested Golden are carriers. This means the Golden has clinical symptoms of Ichthyosis and has the ability to pass it on to its offspring.
- Carrier – One of the parents has a normal gene while the other has Ichthyosis. The tested Golden doesn’t have clinical symptoms of Ichthyosis but it can still pass on the gene to its litter.
- Clear – The tested Golden doesn’t have Ichthyosis genes.
How to treat Ichthyosis in Golden Retrievers
The toughest part of this condition is that there is no Ichthyosis Golden Retriever treatment available yet. The most that owners or breeders can do is manage the symptoms through a healthy skin regimen and lifestyle.
- Frequent bath using dog shampoos for Ichthyosis can help wash out scales and dandruff. Most dog shampoos for Ichthyosis are medicated and can treat infected skin due to extreme dryness.
- Applying skin moisturizers is also necessary to help bring moisture back and protect the skin from dehydration. It can also help heal dry and rough patches of the skin and can stimulate hair growth.
- A routine brushing aids in loosening large greasy flakes and dandruff. This can also help stimulate skin oil production.
- Congenital Ichthyosis Golden Retrievers treatment also includes healthy food high in fatty acid, less stress, enough sleep, and exercise. These are essential in developing a strong immune system that can help Golden Retrievers fight skin infections and other possible complications.
Ichthyosis Golden Retriever Care and Prevention
Ichthyosis is a lifelong skin disorder. Though a cure has yet to be discovered, care and prevention are simple and achievable. Owners or breeders of Golden Retrievers with Ichthyosis should have extraordinary patience since this condition may come and go. Regular vet visitations are also a must to ensure and maintain the quality of the dog’s life.
Prevention as they say is always better than cure. As soon as Golden Retrievers are ready to mate, responsible owners or breeders can always avoid the risk of Ichthyosis by screening their Goldens using Golden Retriever Ichthyosis DNA test. This ensures the future litters are free from this disease.
There can never be perfect pets. This sentence perfectly applies to Golden Retrievers. Being genetically predisposed to Ichthyosis should never be a hindrance in owning or even breeding one. Golden Retrievers possess far more wonderful qualities than focusing on one negative trait that’s actually mild, preventable and manageable like Ichthyosis. Besides, owners and breeders should focus more on debilitating diseases that can pose more damage to the overall health of their Golden Retrievers.