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Sebaceous Adenitis in Dogs and Cats


Sandra Diaz

, DVM, MS, DACVD, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University

Reviewed/Revised Aug 2021 | Modified Oct 2022
Topic Resources

Sebaceous adenitis is uncommon in dogs and rare in cats. The cause is unknown, but the strong predisposition of certain canine breeds suggests that genetics plays a role. The proposed pathogenesis includes cell-mediated immunologic destruction of the sebaceous gland; several mechanisms have been proposed:

  • a primary cornification disorder of the glandular duct, resulting in obstruction and secondary inflammation of the gland

  • an anatomic defect of the sebaceous gland, leading to lipid leakage and a foreign body reaction;

  • an abnormal lipid metabolism, leading to glandular destruction

  • an immune-mediated or autoimmune disease directed against the sebaceous glands

Although any breed can be affected, the following breeds are predisposed:

  • Standard Poodles

  • Akitas

  • Samoyeds

  • Vizslas

  • Havanese

  • Springer Spaniels

  • Lhasa Apsos

Typically, lesions initially affect the pinnae, forehead, face, tail, and dorsal trunk but can become generalized. Lesions include alopecia Alopecia in Animals Alopecia is the partial or complete lack of hairs in areas where they are normally present. It can be congenital or acquired. Congenital alopecias are noninflammatory and are the result of hair... read more and adherent scales that cast hair shafts. The severity and characteristics of clinical signs vary among breeds. Pruritus is variable and mostly associated with secondary bacterial infection. Histopathologic findings include diffuse absence of sebaceous glands, granulomatous to pyogranulomatous inflammation at the site of previous glands, and follicular keratosis.

Treatment options include:

  • cyclosporine (5 mg/kg, PO, once a day) in association with topical therapy.

  • vitamin A (1,000 IU/kg, PO, once a day)

  • doxycycline or minocycline 5 mg/kg, PO, every 12 hours; doxycycline and minocycline have been found to have multiple nonantibiotic effects beneficial for diseases with an inflammatory origin, including autoimmune diseases. niacinamide acts synergistically with tetracyclines for immunomodulatory effects.

  • omega 3/6 fatty acid supplement EPA 180 mg and DHA 120 mg/kg, PO, once a day

  • topical therapy (used in conjunction with systemic therapy). To help soften the adherent scales, a mixture of 70%–75% propylene glycol in water can be sprayed or used as a rinse on the animal’s coat and allowed to act for 2–3 hours before bathing with a medicated shampoo. Another option is to apply baby oil soaks (undiluted or diluted with water 1:1) for 1–6 hours before bathing with a medicated shampoo. Leave-on moisturizers can also be beneficial

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