Lethal acrodermatitis

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Lethal acrodermatitis in a Bull Terrier pup[1]

Lethal acrodermatitis (LAD) is a rare breed-specific genetic disease of bull terriers.

The phenotype is similar to that for acrodermatitis enteropathica in humans, but is currently without treatment[2].

Clinical signs usually present in puppies, with growth retardation, acrodermatitis, purulent dermatitis and paronychia. Affected pups can also exhibit abnormal behavior and diarrhea, though not all of these symptoms are present in all afflicted pups[3].

Skin lesions begin as areas of moderate hyperkeratosis and progress to severe hyperkeratosis with secondary bacterial and Malassezia spp yeast infections. The rostral dorsal muzzle, lips and periocular areas had thick adherent scale with brown yellow crusts

Diagnosis is based on presenting clinical signs. Although these clinical symptoms appear similar to dogs with severe zinc deficiency[4], levels of alkaline phosphatase (a zinc-dependant enzyme) are usually normal in LAD-affected dogs[5]. However, defects in the zinc and/or copper metabolic pathways are suspected, since liver samples from affected pups contained less copper than normal dogs.

There is no known treatment for this disease, and use of copper or zinc supplementation is unrewarding.


  1. Grider A et al (2007) Analysis of the liver soluble proteome from bull terriers affected with inherited lethal acrodermatitis. Mol Genet Metab 92(3):249-257
  2. McEwan NA (1993) Confirmation and investigation of lethal acrodermatitis of bull terriers in Britain. Adv Vet Dermatol 2:151–156
  3. Jezyk PF et al (1986) Lethal Acrodermatitis in Bull Terriers. J Am Vet Med Assoc 188:833–839
  4. White SD et al (2001) Zinc-responsive dermatosis in dogs: 41 cases and literature review. Vet Dermatol 12:101–109
  5. McEwan NA et al (2000) Diagnostic features, confirmation and disease progression in 28 cases of lethal acrodermatitis of bull terriers. J Small Anim Pract 41:501–507