Sunday, February 24, 2008

Another Chocolate Lab with Hair loss around the Eyes - part II

Subject: Another Chocolate Lab with Hair loss around the Eyes - part II

From: Michelle (Japan)

Labrador Retriever Name: Flash

To read part one of this e-mail, visit: Another Chocolate Lab with Hair loss around the Eyes - part I

Reader's E-mail - Michelle Writes:

No worries about the response time. I think it is great that you wrote back at all. Her eye is looking surprisingly better but the discharge is still coming out every day (from both eyes). I also want to say that she is a healthy active dog and the eye problem is very minor. We have 3 children (ages 8, 10 and 12) and Flash is very busy taking care of them. After the bus stop walk every morning she spends about 1 hour with her dog friends running free in Yoyogi park in central Tokyo. With all these dog parents on my case everyday I am trying to remedy her eye issue.

I thought it might be the new Tea Tree Dog Shampoo (with no artificial colors and no agricultural chemicals) I started using a couple of months ago but my fellow dog lovers here in Tokyo disagree with me. They think she has an eye infection (which might explain the discharge but not the hair loss right?). We plan to go back to the vet next week so I will ask again. Last time the vet said some discharge from the eye was normal but I should be clear-- she consistently has a blob (about 1/4 teaspoon) of green/yellowish goop in her eye that I clean 2-3 times per day.

In response to your other questions:

1. This problem never occurred before and we have lived in Japan with Flash for over 2 years.

2. I made a mistake, it is actually her left eye and is not very clear in the picture. The hair loss is just above the eye but she has not lost her lashes. The hair around the eye is thinning but not bald.

3. She is not scratching. The hair just seems to be thinning.

4. No other itching noticed (she does have a rash problem on her belly but it is much better since we switched away from chicken-based dog food).

5. No, hairless area is clear but slightly swollen like a wart.

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6. Not dry nor crusty.

7. No other pets but she is around multiple dogs everyday.

8. APDC (Austrailian Products Dog Cat) Tea Tree Shampoo and separate conditioner for dogs.

9. No obvious nasal problems but she does seem to sneeze a lot and usually has a wet nose (could this all be an allergy??).

10. Yes, she has had a problem with the heat in the summers here in Tokyo. She collapsed twice and had two seizures last year. After numerous tests and thousands of dollars in vet bills we were told that her heart is fine, probably not epileptic but a response to her bodies muscles and heat. During the hot humid months we are very careful not to allow her to over exert herself. With a modified summer exercise program there have not been any issues for the past year.

Thanks for any advice,

Michelle and Flash

All About Labradors Blog Answer:

Hello Michelle,

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

Thanks for your patience in regards to your letter.

Infections of the eye are common in dogs and usually involve the conjunctiva, which can lead to conjunctivitis or “pink eye.” Some causes of infections include bacteria, fungi, foreign objects and irritants. Usually when discharge from the eyes continues throughout the day, an eye infection may be present. A telling sign of an eye infection comes in the color of the discharge, with it being a thick yellow, green or gray color. Healthy eyes are bright and shiny. There can be some mucus and watery discharge, but it should be minimal and clear.

Your veterinarian will usually treat this with an antibiotic ointment made especially for the eyes or with oral medications. I would make sure you clean the discharge with a clean cloth or tissue and get to your veterinarian as soon as possible, as excessive discharge has the potential to cause problems with her vision.

I thought it may possibly be an allergy-related conjunctivitis which is often associated with atopy (inhalant allergies). Some symptoms can be red eyes, the eyes are often itchy, and a watery discharge may be seen. From what you tell me though it doesn't seem as though Flash has any of these symptoms.

It is interesting to hear that her belly area is better after changing her food. Food allergies can cause hair loss in your dog, but a primary symptom is itchy skin. Other symptoms may include recurrent ear infections, hot spots, and may sometimes increase bowel movements. Did you change her to a hypoallergenic food or just something besides chicken? If you need a recommendation for hypoallergenic dog foods let me know.

There is also a condition called Demodectic mange (demodex). Demodectic mange is caused by a mite that is present in low numbers on healthy animals, including people. A common symptom is hair loss and it is generally first noticed around the eyes. The disease is classified as localized mange when it is confined to a few small areas such as the face or the front of the foot. In Labrador Retrievers over the age of two, it is classified as adult onset. Many Labs with adult onset of mange have an underlying health problem that leads to the development of the mange.

Your veterinarian will do a skin scraping where Flash's hair loss is and then examine it under a microscope to determine if mange is the problem. Treatments can include dips, medicated shampoos, antibiotics, boosting the immune system, change in diet to a high quality food, and fatty acid supplementation. I have found a couple of alternatives for treatment besides all the medications that I will let you know about if the veterinarian says Flash does have mange.

I also thought that maybe the new shampoo you are using could be causing the problem, even though the ingredients in the shampoo, tea tree oil, lavender and eucalyptus have been used for many skin conditions. Here is something I found in regards to tea tree oil that may be of great interest to you. (All About Labradors no longer recommends the use of tea tree oil).

I hope this has been of some help to you and Flash. If you don't understand anything, let me know and if you have any further questions, don't hesitate to ask. Please keep me informed of what the veterinarian tells you, especially in regards to the mange.

Take care of yourself and Flash,
Fay

To see photos of Flash visit: Flash 02/24/08

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