Animals can also develop vitiligo, too
Vitiligo has been reported among some species of domestic and wild animals. Some of these occurrences have been documented by veterinary journals and publications.This mature Andalusian has undergone progressive pigment loss in the hair due to the gray gene and has the additional, more uncommon condition known as vitiligo: progressive pigment loss in the skin. Superficially similar mottling is characteristic of the “champagne” gene and leopard complex. Vitiligo in horses is sometimes called “pinky” or “Arabian fading syndrome.”
FELINE VITILIGO (LEUKODERMA, PIEBALDISM)
A rare condition in cats produces a “cobweb” or “snowflake” effect that is most easily seen on black cats. White spots appear on the coat; these become more extensive with age until the cat has a white lace pattern on the colored fur. Ultimately the cat may go completely white or be left with diminishing isolated patches of color. This condition has been seen in black leopards (“cobweb panthers”) and similar conditions are found in humans, dogs and other animals. It should not be confused with the normal age-related “salt and pepper” sprinkling of white hairs or white hairs associated with scars. I have seen only 4 cases of “cobweb” or “snowflake” cats: 2 relating to black leopards and 2 relating to domestic black cats.
“Leukoderma” (“white skin”) is a generic term for piebaldism that occurs during an animal’s lifetime (“aquired depigmentation”). It is usually progressive and is sometimes triggered by illness or environmental factors. A cat with leukoderma may end up almost entirely white. A type of leukoderma has been identified in some Persian cats and these are used as laboratory subjects in the study of depigmentation conditions.
One form of leukoderma, vitiligo, is occasionally seen in cats. It usually causes loss of pigment on the face and feet. Antibodies are formed against the pigment-producing melanocytes. The melanocytes are destroyed leading to the white areas. Another rare condition, periocular leukotrichia, causes the fur around the cat’s eyes to become pale – as though the cat is wearing spectacles. “Leukotrichia” means white hair.
In dogs, vitiligo is sometimes considered a cosmetic defect . It may also cause constant itching in very rare cases.
The September 1990 issue of Buffalo Bulletin, reports that a female buffalo in Pakistan has developed white patches on the ventral skin of the belly. The pregnant cow, rapidly became hypersensitive to flies and sunlight. The condition hasn’t been passed to her offspring. The same article reports that by 1965 there were only two recorded occurrences of vitiligo among buffaloes. (Luekoderma in Buffalo, Hussain N.)