Growth Hormone and Adrenal Sex Hormone-Responsive Dermatosis in Dogs

Growth Hormone and Adrenal Sex Hormone Responsive Dermatosis in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What are Growth Hormone and Adrenal Sex Hormone-Responsive Dermatosis?

Dogs that have a lack of growth hormone, or somatotropin, or have an abnormal sex hormone production can suffer from growth hormone-responsive dermatosis. Both types of dermatosis are quite similar in their characteristics and symptoms.

Somatotropin is a hormone released by the pituitary gland. This hormone is needed for the growth of hair as well as the skin’s elasticity. The adrenal gland produces the sex hormones, and in the case of adrenal sex-hormone responsive dermatosis, the sex hormones are atypical. These cause a change in the levels of growth hormones, which impact the hair and skin of the dog. 

This condition is treatable; however, treatment methods can be discarded if the owner is not concerned about the animal’s appearance from the hair loss. Both conditions do not affect the overall health of the dog in any way. Many owners forego treatment as treating this disorder can be quite costly, especially if the chosen treatment option is growth hormone therapy.

The condition Growth Hormone-Responsive Dermatosis and Adrenal Sex Hormone-Responsive Dermatosis in dogs is the body’s reaction to specific hormones produced by the adrenal and pituitary glands. Marked hair loss is the main, and typically the only, symptom.

Symptoms of Growth Hormone and Adrenal Sex Hormone-Responsive Dermatosis in Dogs

If your dog has growth hormone–responsive dermatosis or adrenal sex-hormone responsive dermatosis, he will exhibit specific symptoms for both types of dermatosis. Symptoms may include:

  • Hair loss on the neck, tail, thighs and trunk
  • Hair loss on both sides with no real inflammation
  • Hair loss without itchiness
  • Areas lacking hair have a dark pigmentation
  • The crisp, coarser hair is lost, thus leaving a fluffy-looking coat


There are several different types of dog breeds which are commonly affected by both growth hormone-responsive dermatosis and adrenal sex-hormone responsive dermatosis. Dog breeds which are more susceptible to these conditions include:

  • American Water Spaniels
  • Keeshonds
  • Pomeranians
  • Chow Chow
  • Miniature Poodles
  • Toy Poodles
  • Samoyeds

Causes of Growth Hormone and Adrenal Sex Hormone-Responsive Dermatosis in Dogs

There are several causes of each type of dermatosis.  This condition is still being researched, and researchers have discovered a number of causes. Causes include:

Growth Hormone-responsive Dermatosis

  • A lesion upon the pituitary gland
  • Disorders or abnormalities of the hormone-stimulating organs

Adrenal Sex Hormone-responsive Dermatosis

  • Deficiency in the adrenal gland enzyme
  • Adrenal androgen produced in excess
  • Too much progesterone produced
  • Abnormal sex hormone levels from adrenal glands
  • Hormonal receptors on the follicles of the hair

Diagnosis of Growth Hormone and Adrenal Sex Hormone-Responsive Dermatosis in Dogs

If you are seeing questionable hair loss on your dog, contact your veterinarian for an appointment. Once you arrive at the veterinarian’s office, he will ask you several questions about your pet’s symptoms, such as when they began, the severity, if your dog is scratching at his skin, and any other questions that will help him further understand your primary concerns. 

He will then perform a complete physical examination with blood work, a urinalysis, and a biochemistry profile. This will allow your veterinarian to retrieve baseline data in order to make the decision as to what further testing needs to be done. The blood testing not only will help the veterinarian become closer to a diagnosis, but will help rule out other illnesses, namely hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease.

Your veterinarian will also perform a thyroid function test, and a skin biopsy. These tests will need to be sent off to a laboratory to be examined by an expert in pathology and may take several days to come back.

Once all laboratory tests come back and your dog is diagnosed with growth hormone-responsive dermatitis or adrenal sex-hormone responsive dermatosis, your veterinarian will outline a treatment plan to help your dog recover.

Treatment of Growth Hormone and Adrenal Sex Hormone-Responsive Dermatosis in Dogs

Neutering or Spaying

If your dog has adrenal sex hormone-responsive dermatitis, neutering or spaying may be an option recommended by your veterinarian. 


There are some medications that your veterinarian may recommend which produce hair follicles to allow for hair regrowth. Medications such as opDDD, ketoconazole, or mitotane are typically the medications of choice. 

Growth Hormones 

There are growth hormone treatments that may help your dog’s hair grow back by the stimulation of the specific glands and hormone production. Treatment using growth hormones are costly, and many dog owners only use this treatment if they are truly affected by their dog’s appearance. The hair loss from the lack of hormones does not affect your dog’s health - just his looks.

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Recovery of Growth Hormone and Adrenal Sex Hormone-Responsive Dermatosis in Dogs

The treatment methods you are given may help your dog’s hair grow back. This depends on your dog and his specific condition. Your veterinarian will give you specific instructions on how to administer any medications he needs to take, and will make you aware of any side-effects to watch for. 

It will be important to watch for any more hair loss, and speak to your veterinarian if you have any concerns. If you notice any new symptoms, do not hesitate to contact your medical professional. If you are concerned about the appearance of your dog, you do have the option of checking with a holistic veterinarian or doing research on holistic care that can help with your dog’s hormone responses. However, you should not give any herbal or natural supplements to your dog without consulting your medical professional.

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