Vitamin A–responsive dermatosis

From Dog
Vitamin A-responsive dermatosis: marked ventral hyperkeratosis and seborrhea on the ventrum of an American Cocker Spaniel[1]

Vitamin-A responsive dermatosis is a rare skin disease characterized by a proliferative hyperkeratotic seborrhea responsive to retinoid (vitamin A) supplementation[2].

Vitamin A-responsive dermatosis is not a systemic vitamin A deficiency but a local deficiency in the skin, a disorder of skin utilization, or a pharmacological effect of high doses on the skin.

Dogs, unlike cats, have the ability to convert vitamin A precursors to active vitamin A. The most common forms of preformed vitamin A in foods are derivatives of retinol, such as retinyl palmitate and retinyl acetate. The largest quantities of these compounds are found in fish liver oils and animal livers[3]. A minimum dietary requirement of 5000 IU/kg is suggested for growth, reproduction, and adult maintenance.

A vitamin A–responsive dermatosis has been reported in Cocker spaniels[4], although a similar condition has been reported in Gordon Setter, Labrador Retriever, Miniature Schnauzer and Shar-Pei.

Clinically affected dogs are usually over 3 years of age and present with recurrent scaly seborrhea, a dry hair coat with easy epilation, and prominent comedones. Plaques are most prominent on the chest and abdomen. Otitis externa and pruritus are variable.

A differential diagnosis would include demodectic mange, zinc-responsive dermatosis, lupus erythematosus and Malassezia dermatitis.

Fatty acid supplementation is also recommended in these dogs as they assist in correcting keratinization defects.

Medicated shampoos usually assist is restoring normal skin health and eliminating seborrhea and secondary bacterial and yeast infections.


  1. Hensel P (2010) Nutrition and skin diseases in veterinary medicine. Clin Dermatol 28(6):686-693
  2. Watson TD (1998) Diet and skin disease in dogs and cats. J Nutr 128(12):2783S-2789S
  3. Go Pets America
  4. Ihrke PJ & Goldschmidt MH (1983) Vitamin A-responsive dermatosis in the dog. J Am Vet Med Assoc 182(7):687-690