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Sebum is a normal product of some glands found in the skin.  In seborrhea, however, sebum is produced in excessive quantity.  The sebum may appear as dry light-coloured flakes in the coat or as greasy, wavy scales on the skin and fur.

Three basic forms are recognised:

• Seborrhea sicca (dry) – diffuse or focal scaling and dry skin may or may not be itchy.
• Seborrhea oleosa (greasy) – diffuse or focal scaling and greasiness.  May have brownish-yellow clumps sticking to the skin and/or fur, accompanied by a rancid odour.  May or may not be itchy.
• Seborrhea dermatitis – scaling and/or greasiness with gross evidence of inflammation.  Lesions often well defined with areas of fur loss.

The following breeds have a higher incidence of seborrhea than others, namely Cocker and Springer Spaniels, West Highland White Terriers, German Shepherds, Poodles and Dachshunds.

Underlying causes that may contribute to this condition include:

• Hormonal imbalances
• Parasites both internal and external
• Fungi
• Allergies
• Dietary – especially fat levels
• Environmental – e.g. bathing, climatic conditions

Unfortunately because of the often-complex nature of seborrhea, it is a condition that is more often CONTROLLED rather than CURED.

Various anti-seborrheic shampoos should be used on a regular basis to remove accumulated sebum.  At times, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory agents will be needed in addition to the shampoos.  Medication must be fitted to the particular needs of your pet.

Notify your veterinarian if the following occurs: your pet’s condition appears to worsen or the skin becomes more inflamed or pet’s discomfort is not relieved

© Forrest Hill Vets (2000) Ltd