Monday, June 18, 2007

Black Lab losing her Hair

This e-mail is sent in by Rita (Canada) in regards to a problem with her black Labrador Retriever named Sammy, who is losing her hair.

Reader's E-mail - Rita Writes:

Hello; my 9 year old black lab Sammy has been losing her hair in small clumps for awhile now. She has always had a beautiful black shiny coat but now she is losing her lovely hair. I took her to the vet who thought she had an allergy. She was given an antihistamine and a antibiotic shot and put on antibiotics, an omega 3 fatty acid supplement and a special shampoo. We also changed her diet to an expensive non-allergenic dog food. So far her hair keeps falling out. She is not bothered by the hair loss. She does not scratch at all. This has been going on for at least 6 weeks and I am not sure where to go from here. Any ideas? Thanks , Rita (Sammy’s owner)

All About Labradors Answer:

Hello Rita,

Thank you for writing and I'm sorry to hear about the condition in Sammy.

I need you to answer a few questions for me to be able to try to assist with the problem.

How long has it been (one week ago, three weeks ago, etc.), that Sammy has had her antihistamine, antibiotic shot and taken antibiotics? Also the same for the new food and supplements.

Where is the hair falling out (one place or all over the body) ?

Is the hair falling out in circular patches?

How does the skin look where the hair has fallen out (blisters, sores, redness, crusty, etc.) ?

Any dry, flaky skin?

Greasy coat?

In the areas that the hair is falling out; is there no hair at all or is the hair remaining course and brittle.

Any other medical conditions, now or in the past with Sammy?

Rita, please get back to me with the answer to these question at your earliest convenience.

One last thing I ask of a favor to all the folks who e-mail me questions. If it's possible to e-mail me picture(s) of Sammy it would be greatly appreciated. I love to put the face to the problem and also like to post the pictures to the blog(s) as well as the questions. Thanks.

Rita's Response:

Continue Reading...

Hi Fay – thank you for answering my e-mail.

Sammy started losing her hair soon after Christmas. I took her to the vet on January 11 and that was when they gave her the shots and she was started on the oral antibiotics. We started her on the supplements and food ever since. It doesn’t seem to be improving at all and her hair is mostly falling off her back. The little clumps of hair are attached to a flake of dry skin. The bare skin in just quite flaky. She does not scratch anywhere at all. Her hair may be thinning a little bit on her legs but not falling out. Her coat is not greasy and still feels soft. She has been very healthy though she was backed over by a truck last summer and broke her pelvis. She was also very gassy with putrid smelling dog farts. This has improved somewhat since changing her dog food to non-allergenic.

I have attached a picture which I hope helps. Please let me know if I have missed anything. I appreciate your response as I am not sure whether to take her back to the vet since nothing has improved except maybe the gas thing.

Thanks again, Rita

All About Labradors Answer:

Hi Rita,

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

Thank you for your responses to the questions and the photos. I seem to be getting this same type of question (hair loss) very frequently lately.

Sounds like your veterinarian is trying to determine whether or not a food allergy or intolerance is causing Sammy's problem. He/she has put Sammy on a special diet "hypoallergenic diet", which is fed for a set period of time to see if Sammy recovers. I have read in Labrador Retrievers it can be up to 10-12 weeks of the trial diet before showing a response. Remember, Sammy should not be fed anything else (table scrapes, treats, etc) for this to work.

There are many reasons for hair loss, and with no itching going on with Sammy, the cause is likely to be a result of an allergy or nutrient deficiency. The loss of hair can also be tied to hormonal imbalances. Hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce a sufficient amount of thyroid hormone, could also be a possibility. There are many different symptoms to hypothyroidism with one being chronic skin disorders, such as dry skin, thinning of the hair coat, excessive hair loss. Laboratory tests for this can be done by your veterinarian.

Here are some websites with further info on Canine Hypothyroidism:

You can also do a search on Google to produce hundreds more.

Other allergy test may be done, such as blood tests or intradermal skin testing. The better allergy test is intradermal skin testing, which is usually done by a veterinary dermatologist. You may want to visit a veterinary dermatologist (you can ask for a referral from your vet) if he/she is not one themselves. Veterinary dermatologist are specialists that tend to see chronic and odd cases, and often recognize unusual syndromes a general practitioner may miss.

These allergy tests are usually done after other potential causes of skin problems are performed and after the “hypoallergenic diet” are complete.

For the dry skin: An occasional cool bath can be very soothing, especially if you use an oatmeal shampoo (helps relieve dry irritated skin) or add a little colloidal oatmeal (like Aveeno) to the water. You can also apply some Aloe Vera several times a day (100 % pure kind, from health food store). A Hydrocortisone Shampoo (like your vet has prescribed) can also be used (they have Hydrocortisone Shampoo with Aloe Vera Gel in them). After shampooing make sure you rinse completely!

All dogs can have a touch of Dog Flatulence (farts or gas) from time to time. Sometimes it occurs as they get older also. Certain foods can cause gas with your Sammy just as it can happen with you and me. A low quality diet, such as cheap dog food, treats, table scraps, can also be a cause. Another cause can be if Sammy eats extremely fast, she will swallow too much air and cause the gas. If Sammy does eat to fast you may want to feed her smaller amounts during the day. Instead of feeding her 1 or 2 portions of food per day, you can divide the same amount into smaller portions and feed the dog more frequently.

What I would recommend is to give your veterinarian a call and tell them that it doesn't seem to be improving. Remember though you are only about eight weeks into the "hypoallergenic diet" test so they might want to give it a few more weeks, but at least give them a call anyway as they might want to start other testing. Continue your bathing as prescribe by your vet, you can also use the Aloe Vera. You may also want to think about a veterinarian dermatologist.

I hope I have been of some kind of help to you and Sammy. Please keep me up to date with her condition, and anything else the vet says or does, as it is beneficial to me and the readers of All About Labradors blog. If you notice other changes to her, please let me know also. If you have any more questions on this condition or any other conditions don't hesitate to send me an e-mail (even if you have to send hundreds of them - I don't mind).

Take care of yourself and Sammy

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