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New Insight to Canine Flank Alopecia

Clinician's Brief (Capsule)


March 2014

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Canine recurrent flank alopecia (cRFA) is characterized by well-demarcated areas of noninflammatory alopecia. Spontaneous regrowth of hair usually occurs within 3–6 months. Little is known about the pathogenesis of the disease. Skin biopsies from normal and affected skin were harvested from 2 dogs with spontaneously occurring disease and grafted onto 5 athymic mice. Over 30 days, the affected dogs still had alopecia. In contrast, the transplanted skin biopsy specimens regrew hair and hyperpigmentation disappeared. The regeneration of hair follicles in transplanted skin suggested causative factors of canine recurrent flank alopecia are likely to be systemic rather than local.


CRFA is a common condition. Although the study concluded that cRFA is likely a result of systemic (not cutaneous) factors, it is important to counsel owners that many dogs with this condition are generally healthy. CRFA, although frustrating for many clients, does not mean the dog is systemically ill.—William Oldenhoff, DVM


Study of the behaviour of lesional and nonlesional skin of canine recurrent flank alopecia transplanted to athymic nude mice. Vandenabeele SI, DeCock H, Van Ham L, et al. VET DERMATOL 24:507-e120, 2013.

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