What is Cutaneous Asthenia?
Also called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, cutaneous asthenia is a hereditary condition in which the skin is unusually loose and fragile. Even minor traumas can cause the skin to tear.
How does my dog get Cutaneous Asthenia?
The condition is hereditary, although the mode of inheritance varies between breeds and is often unknown. It appears to be caused by abnormal synthesis of collagen, the substance that makes up connective fibers.
How do I know if my dog has Cutaneous Asthenia?
Your dog's skin will be extremely prone to cuts and tears, so much so that he can even cut himself from scratching. After a while, he may be covered with old scars from minor traumas. If you pull the skin away from the body, it will pull away to a greater extent than other dogs of his breed, and will not snap back as quickly. It may even hang loosely. Less commonly, he may have other signs associated with the syndrome, including joint laxity, lens luxation, elbow hygromas, and cataracts. Your veterinarian will perform a skin hyperextensibility test, in which the extent to which the skin can be pulled away from the body is measured. She may perform a skin biopsy to examine the structure of the skin microscopically. Because this is an unusual disease, she may refer you to a veterinary dermatologist for testing.
What can I do about Cutaneous Asthenia?
Unfortunately, there is no treatment. Mild cases can be maintained with care to avoid cutting the skin. This means removing sharp corners from the environment, not allowing your dog to roughhouse with other pets, and only allowing him to sleep on padded areas. Any skin tears should be sutured immediately. More severe cases may not be able to avoid repeated skin tearing even with precautions; such dogs may need to be euthanized.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my dog from getting Cutaneous Asthenia?
There is nothing you can do to prevent the condition from occurring, except to refrain from breeding affected dogs and to choose your dog from a family without the condition.
Are there certain breeds that get more often Cutaneous Asthenia?
The condition has been reported in English Springer Spaniels, English and Irish Setters, Beagles, Dachshunds, Greyhounds, Manchester Terriers, Saint Bernards, German Shepherds, Welsh Corgis, Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, Keeshonden, Boxer, and others.