Approach to the Diagnosis of Hepatocutaneous Syndrome in Dogs: A Retrospective Study and Literature Review

J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. 2021 Jan 1;57(1):15-25. doi: 10.5326/JAAHA-MS-7072.


Superficial necrolytic dermatitis (SND) is a rare and often fatal disease in dogs that has been associated with pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasia (SND/EN) and hepatocutaneous syndrome (SND/HCS). Although various combinations of diagnostics have been used to differentiate these two causes of SND, there are currently no data on which combination would enable the most timely and noninvasive way to diagnose HCS. Medical records were reviewed retrospectively (2004-2018) for dogs with SND/HCS (n = 24) and SND/EN (n = 1). These data were compared with cases found by review of the literature of dogs with SND/HCS (n = 105) and SND/EN (n = 13). The most consistent findings with SND were dermatological lesions affecting paw pads or mucocutaneous junctions (143/143, 100%) and marked plasma hypoaminoacidemia (58/58, 100%). On ultrasound, a honeycomb liver was seen in 62/63 (98%) dogs with SND/HCS but none with SND/EN. Six out of 23 (26%) dogs in the retrospective study with SND/HCS had marked keratinocyte apoptosis, a finding that was associated with diabetes mellitus. This study suggests that in dogs with characteristic skin lesions, an amino acid profile permits a noninvasive diagnosis of SND. An abdominal ultrasound can then assist in the differentiation of SND/HCS and SND/EN.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dog Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Dogs
  • Liver Diseases / diagnosis
  • Liver Diseases / pathology
  • Liver Diseases / veterinary*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Diseases / diagnosis
  • Skin Diseases / pathology
  • Skin Diseases / veterinary*