Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Yellow Labrador Retriever Losing Hair on Sides - part I

This e-mail comes in from Connie (USA). Connie's soon to be, two year old yellow Labrador Retriever named Cosmo has a problem with a loss of hair on both of his sides.

This is part one of a two part posting, as Connie and I exchanged many e-mails.

Reader's Email - Connie Writes:

We have our first yellow lab (actually, first dog) - Cosmo. We have had him since 8 weeks and he will now be 2 in May. He is a pure joy! Anyway, I have noticed on either side of him on his sides - right between his rib cage and hips - he is losing fur. It almost looks black from a distance. There now seems to be more loss looking like a "patch" of missing fur. Otherwise he is so healthy and happy. Any thoughts? We love our lab!!!!

All About Labradors Answer:

Hello Connie,

I'm sorry to hear about Cosmo's problem.

I have a couple of questions to ask you, as the answers to these questions can give me a better understanding as to what the problem may be, and some possible solutions.

Is Cosmo neutered?

Is he itching or licking at these areas?

Is Cosmo an outside Lab or an inside Lab (where he spends more time)?

Any kind of smell coming from the area?

What do you feed Cosmo (name brand of dog food, flavor)?

Are the areas totally bald?

Any condition to the skin where the hair loss is (red, scaly, bumps, etc)?

How is condition of rest of his coat (greasy, smelly, dry)?

Is the area black, or it just looks black from a distance?

How long has this been going on?

Any changes with Cosmo's routine (moved to new home, different places walked, different chemicals in home, etc)?

Any prior medical conditions with Cosmo?

Connie, please get back to me at your earliest convenience with the answers to the above questions and will see what I can find out.

Talk to you soon,

Connie's Response:

Thank you for responding! I did make an appt with his vet in a week, so I will tell you what she says too!

Continue Reading...

To answer all the questions:

Yes, Cosmo was neutered at 6 months and will be 2 in May. He does not itch, scratch or lick the areas.

He only is outside for walks, playing with us etc. for he will eat anything without supervision!

No smells from Cosmo.

As for food, he was put on Duck and Potato Dick Van Pattens brand due to ear infections. The ears have been clear for months now.

He was over 80 pounds with the switch of food, so we were to get him back to 75. I don't know what he weighs now, but we have definitely cut back trying to get him thinner.

I noticed the black from a distance for a good month. Now it looks like someone used an instrument to thin out two strips, one on each side. There seems to be almost a dandruff now that wasn't there on his back quarters.

He started shedding a great deal and we thought maybe we went "overboard" with brushing. Maybe he is too dry?

Nothing seems new. He has gone to a dog sitting place twice that has new owners. I have had him bathed there--other than that, nothing.

Cosmo has been very healthy! He did switch foods due to possible allergies--many ear infections.

He is an awesome dog--so gentle and funny with the personality of a toddler following me around!

Thanks for your help-Connie

A few days later Connie also wrote:

I took Cosmo to the vet, as I said. She tested him for an underactive thryroid. That may be the cause of tremendous loss of hair in a lab. I will let you know the results!!!

All About Labradors Answers:

The information given here is to help you learn more about your Labrador Retriever and not to replace your veterinarian's advice. Disclaimer

I am truly sorry with the delay. Thanks for the response to the questions, and yes I did receive the picture of Cosmo, he is beautiful. What a handsome Labrador Retriever. Thank you for letting me know what’s going on with the vet also.

It seems like I have been receiving many questions on hair loss with Labrador Retrievers lately. Many times hair loss can be attributed to allergies, which sounds as though your Cosmo might have had (food allergy) with the ear infections and them being clear now that you switched foods.

With the symptoms of the hair loss on Cosmo (especially the bilateral and symmetric hair loss, and the fact Cosmo is not scratching it out), it definitely sounds as though he has a condition called Hypothyroidism. Basically, hypothyroidism is the natural deficiency of thyroid hormone. The thyroid gland does not secrete enough of a thyroid hormone called thyroxine.

Possible symptoms of Hypothyroidism can include obesity, hair loss, dry skin, disorientation, lethargy, darkening of the skin, skin infections, seborrhea (that white dandruff you state is on his back quarters), diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, vomiting, and even heart problems. Hypothyroidism can occur at any age, but it tends to affect dogs around two to six years of age.

Treatment consists of administering a thyroid hormone supplementation (replacement of the missing hormone with a synthetic hormone). Cosmo would be monitored every couple of week at first, after starting medication, then every few months. During this time he condition will be monitored and medication adjusted up or down to make sure its right.

Changes in energy levels, activity levels are usually seen quickly with treatment, but the growing back of the hair can take several months.

Remember Connie, if this is Cosmo's diagnosis, he will remain on the hormone for life, but with the proper treatment will have a very full and normal life and able to maintain good health well into his years.

For the dandruff you describe on Cosmo's back quarters you can bath with specially medicated shampoo (antiseborrhea shampoo). Omega-3 fatty-acid supplements may also be recommended by your veterinarian.

I hope this helps some Connie, and if you don't understand something let me know. If you have any more questions on this or anything else, please let me know. Please keep me further updated with the vet visits.

Yellow Labrador Retriever Losing Hair on Sides - part II

Yellow Labrador Retriever Losing Hair on Sides - part III

To see a photo of Cosmo, click on his name: Cosmo 5/09/07

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