While dachshunds might suffer from some of the skin conditions common to all canines -- primarily allergic reactions to fleas, food or a pollutant -- certain skin problems may be genetic in nature. While your vet can treat most doxie hereditary skin issues, if your dog is severely affected consider taking him to a board-certified veterinary dermatologist.
Acanthosis nigricans is a pigmentation disorder found primarily in dachshunds. Signs appear early, usually before the dog's first birthday. The skin begins darkening and thickening, and the greasy, flaky skin condition known as seborrhea may develop. Your doxie may also suffer from related bacterial skin infections and hair loss. Over time, the thick, dark skin and seborrhea may spread over most of his body.
While there's no cure for the condition, in mildly affected dogs it presents only a cosmetic issue. In more severely affected doxies, your vet might prescribe medicated shampoos and steroids to treat the symptoms, along with supplements to improve overall skin health.
Dachshunds are among the breeds predisposed to Malassezia dermatitis, a yeast infection. Malassezia dermatitis can occur in conjunction with Acanthosis nigricans, or by itself. Early symptoms include an itchy rash, but this soon progresses to skin thickening and foul-smelling infections. Skin folds are particularly vulnerable to Malassezia infiltration. Once your vet diagnoses this yeast infection via a skin scraping, she might prescribe shampoos to eradicate yeast, along with oral antifungal drugs.
Hypothyroidism in Dachshunds
Aging doxies may develop hypothyroidism, resulting from insufficient hormone production by the thyroid glands. Initial symptoms often involve skin issues, including dryness, recurrent infections, skin thickening and discoloration and hair loss. Other symptoms include frequent ear infections, behavioral changes, lethargy and cold intolerance. Once your vet makes a diagnosis through blood testing for thyroid hormone levels, she can prescribe daily thyroid pills. Your doxie must take this medication for the rest of his life, but his symptoms should resolve within a few weeks after starting drug therapy.
If your doxie develops any lumps or bumps on his skin, take him to the vet for an examination. Common skin tumors in dachshunds include apocrine gland tumors, affecting the anal sac. While surgery, chemotherapy and radiation can buy your dog some time, these growths generally prove fatal within a year. Benign tumors called lipomas often occur in the breed, and doxies are susceptible to a rare type of this tumor known as diffuse lipomatosis. It affects the dog's entire skin, "resulting in prominent folds in the skin on the neck and trunk," notes the Merck Manual, Pet Health Edition.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.