Stretchy, Saggy, Painful Skin in Dogs

Cutaneous asthenia is a group of conditions where there are various underlying defects in the structure of collagen, the fibrous connective tissue of the body. Dogs with cutaneous asthenia have abnormally stretchy and fragile skin which tears easily, resulting in large wounds. Some dogs also have looseness in the joints and abnormalities of the eye (lens luxation, cataracts).

Also known as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or dermatosparaxis, it is an inherited skin disorder characterized by extremely stretchy and fragile skin that tears at the slightest scratch causing scars and wounds. 

This disease is characterized by deficient levels of collagen – the main structural protein found in connective tissues and necessary for skin and ligament strength and elasticity. Lack of collagen also affects structure of skin and skin resilience becomes weak, making it easy to injure and prone to tearing, bruising and tearing. The condition develops in younger age of the dog, mostly within first six months.

This rare disorder has been seen in the boxer, dachshund, English springer spaniel, English setters, German shepherd, Poodles and St. Bernard, and in mixed breed dogs. It has also been reported in the beagle, Manchester terrier, Welsh corgi, keeshonds, Irish setters, red kelpie, and greyhound.

Signs include numerous lesions of the skin; broad, thin scars; gaping bleeding wounds; stretchy, thin, and fragile skin; and skin folds behind the elbows.

With dogs, this condition commonly causes loose joints, which can vary from mild to severe. The joints may be only slightly loose, making mobility a challenge, or the joints may be loose to the point that the bones are dislocated. This can be bones of the legs, hips, and other parts of the body that are connected by joints. Rare, but also an effect this condition has on dogs, is dislocation of the eye lens. This is caused by the same lack of collagen, in this case affecting the ligaments that hold the lens in place.

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