≡ Menu

Ichthyosis in Dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

Ichthyosis is a skin condition that can not only affect dogs and cats; it can also affect humans as well.  This is why we figured we’d take a moment or two and discuss precisely what ichthyosis is so that if you end up owning a pet that has been diagnosed with this condition, you’ll not only have a better understanding of what it is; you’ll also have a better understanding of what to expect!

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!

Ichthyosis Defined

Ichthyosis is a term used to describe a “blanket term” used to describe a variety of skin conditions that all end in the same thing: an itchy skin scaling that looks much like fish scales.  The ‘Ich’ part of the word means ‘fish’ in Ancient Greek, so similar is the appearance now, while it is possible that just about any “type” of dog breed. However, certain dog breeds will have an increased risk of developing ichthyosis due to the genetic component that causes this disease.


The disease’s variants depend mainly on the breed of dog, the location of the itching, and other factors. Dogs who suffer from this condition frequently experience painful paw pads, among other areas prone to itching and scaling.

Commonly Affected Breeds

So, what is ichthyosis?

Ichthyosis is an autosomal recessive trait, meaning it will not manifest unless both of your pup’s parents have a history of the disease.  Also called ‘Fish Scale’ disease, this skin condition thickens the outer layer of skin (the Stratum Corneum). This outer skin becomes oily or greasy, and eventually, the skin flakes off in scales. The area affected will be dry and irritated, maybe even swollen and red.

In the “worst” case scenarios…

Your dog’s skin may even break out in lesions. Dogs who suffer from Ichthyosis are known to suffer swelling and pain in the pads of the feet, although the condition is limited to those areas.  This disease has several types, but only a skin biopsy will clarify which state you should treat. A DNA test can also test your potential puppy for traces of the disease.

It’s also possible…

Your dog could develop epidermolytic and non-epidermolytic variants of this disease, with the former describing a defect in the stratum corneum’s ability to produce Keratin, the primary composite of the outer layer of skin, the latter comes from the recessive trait and is inherited as a gene mutation rather than caused by a lack of Keratin.  However, the most severe form of this condition is epidermolytic hyperkeratosis. This is where there is far too much Keratin in the outer layers of the skin, and it can result in red skin and painful blistering lesions. This is a sporadic form of the disease and affects only a small amount of animals.

We here at IndulgeYourPet still feel it is worth considering if a DNA test shows your pup has a family history of this disease. If you still want to adopt them, you should be prepared for the ongoing medical costs of topical and oral treatments. After all, there is a high chance that your dog will need to receive treatment for the rest of their life.

What are the Treatment Options?

Fortunately, this horrendously itchy and annoying condition can be treated. Your vet will likely want to make an affirmative diagnosis with a skin biopsy and begin treatment immediately.

Oral Fatty Acid supplements…

It might be prescribed, as might a range of topical creams designed to relieve your pet.


It has also been used to treat this disorder with varying degrees of success.

And while it’s nice…

To know that ichthyosis is treatable, we should point out that this disorder is considered one of the least treatable skin conditions your pup can have.  Your vet will likely offer several options to make your pet more comfortable. The likelihood of this condition ever vanishing completely is slim to none.

Which brings us to…

We want to remind folks that we at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals.  We are all a bunch of folks passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.  This is why if you feel like your pet may have ichthyosis (or any other health issue), you’ll want to have them checked out by a vet ASAP!


An early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering them, but beyond that, diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs!  This is also why we here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now, will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

{ 0 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment