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Tattooing – a first for Dogtown

The incidents of environmentally-influenced skin conditions affecting our furkids is certainly on the rise. At Dogtown we have over the last few years seen numerous cases of sun related skin disorders appearing, particularly in the white or lighter coloured dogs.

UV radiation is classified as a “complete carcinogen” as it is both a mutagen and a non-specific damaging agent and has properties of both a tumour initiator and a tumour promoter. Both UVA and UVB rays are abundant in our environment and is a major contributing factor to a variety of skin disorders including degenerative aging and cancer.

Skin complexion is among the most important determinants of UV sensitivity and skin cancer risk in humans as well as our dogs. The fairer the skin (less pigmentation) the easier it is for UV rays to cause inflammation (sunburn), suppression of the immune system, degenerative aging, and skin cancers.

At the Johannesburg Animal Eye Hospital an in-depth research program involving tattooing has been undertaken by Dr Anthony Goodhead and his team. The hypothesis is that by tattooing sensitive areas (eye-lids, noses etc.) that have compromised pigmentation, the penetration of UV rays could be impeded and the risk of skin disorders could possibly be reduced. Although cosmetic tattooing for animals has been performed for a number of years, Dr Goodhead’s program is the first in South Africa to be medically researched. There are a number of theories that black ink tattoos are more prone to developing skin cancer. A recent study in the USA that was undertaken to prove just this point did in fact prove the opposite. Scientists found that the group with black ink tattoos showed fewer signs of skin damage than the control group without tattoos.

Dogtown is proud to have been invited to be part of this ground breaking research with three of our furkids being chosen to be tattooed. Zoey, Claudia and Channing all have very limited natural pigmentation around their bottom eye lids and Channing’s nose is also compromised.

Under the auspices of Dr Anthony and his team, including professional tattoo artist Jade Mclean, the three dogs were successfully tattooed. Over the following months they will be closely monitored and everyone involved is hoping our “Three Musketeers” will be the pioneers of an innovative new procedure to help furkids all over South Africa.

By Gordon, Trainer

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