Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Black Labrador Retriever losing hair on the top of her feet - part II

Subject: Black Labrador Retriever losing hair on the top of her feet and spots around her mouth - part II.

From: Forrest

Labrador Retriever Name: Star

To read part one of this e-mail visit: Black Labrador Retriever losing hair on the top of her feet - part I

Reader's E-mail - Forrest's Answers to my questions:

Thank you for getting back to me. Her name is Star. I also have her sister who's name is Raven. I will try to answer you questions in the order you asked them.

1. No raw skin. Just pink to red irritated skin.

2. All four paws have bare :knuckles" from her licking/chewing.

3. She seems to lick them more when she has been active and is calming down to a rest state but she still licks them periodically.

4. Food is Pedigree dry small crunchy bites. She also gets Ol Roy dog biscuits (multi-flavored and peanut butter) and of course some table scraps.

5. We have not noticed any crusty areas.

6. The bare spots look like rectangles on her paws.

7. I have not noticed any greasy or foul smelling fur.

8. Her eyes seem to have a thin line of lost hair around them.

I appreciate any advice you can give me.

Thanks again,

All About Labradors Answers:

Continue Reading...

Hello Forrest,

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 resending your answers. I did receive photos of Star, but not the ones of her paws. Here is a website that deals with a condition called Lick Granulomas. Take a look at the photos and let me know if this is what Star's condition looks like.

Lick Granulomas

Labrador Retrievers that lick their feet all the time may have allergies.

Atopy (inhalant allergies) are the most common in Labrador Retrievers. Dogs with Atopy, lick and chew at their paws and scratch their face, eyelids and ears. Just like with people, your Lab can develop allergies to something it inhales, such as grass pollens, tree pollens, and weeds, with many of these being seasonal. Other allergens can include molds, house dust, and mildew, which can be around all the time.

Here are some things you might want to do around your home to help:

Wash Star's bedding in very hot water

Keep Star out of rooms several hours when you vacuum.

Keep Star out of carpeted rooms

Try to avoid stuffed toys and letting her sleep on stuffed furniture

Use dehumidifiers

If you have a basement, you will also want to keep Star out of it.

Contact allergies, when Star comes into contact with something she is sensitive to, can also cause her itchy paws.

Food allergies to something eaten (dairy products, wheat, beef, chicken eggs, chicken, wheat, soy and corn), can occur at any age and may mimic the signs of an inhalant allergy. These animals tend to have recurrent ear and skin infections unless the allergy is identified and the allergy is addressed. Food allergies can be complicated to recognize and to treat.

The problem is figuring out what the allergen is. Allergy testing can be done by your veterinarian, 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.

You may also want to try changing Star's food by setting up a special "hypoallergenic diet", for a possible food allergy. I would definitely do away with the Old Roy treats, as I feel they are of very poor quality and probably just about one of the worst dog foods and treats available ( I'm sure I will catch some flack on this).

If you do decide to try changing Star's food, here are some things you should know:

Make sure you give the trial at least twelve weeks on the new food.

Absolutely no other treats should be given during the food trial. The only exception is if they are based on the same food sources as the test diet.

Make sure you are strict with the new food test, offering no other foods and NO table scrapes.

No unnecessary medications are to be given.

No edible chew toys (such as rawhides or bones) should be given.

Here are some recommendations of foods for Star:


Eagle Pack (Holistic Select)

These companies also offer treats based on the same food sources as their foods. If you need other recommendations on food and treats let me know.

Many people believe (and recommend) Lamb and Rice for dog food allergies. Our Labrador Retrievers had never eaten lamb and rice before, thus they never had time to develop an allergy to it. There was nothing special about the lamb and rice except as I said, our Labs had never eaten it before.

The problem is that many of the lamb and rice-based foods also contain many other ingredients, and if your Labrador Retriever has a food allergy to any of those ingredients, the lamb and rice food will do nothing to treat the food allergy.

Here is some additional help for allergies:

Benadryl has been known to help allergy conditions in many Labrador Retrievers. Be advised that it can also have potential adverse side effect.

Colloidal Oatmeal Shampoos and cream rinses - these products pull inflammatory toxins out of the skin, along with colloidal oatmeal sprays and lotions, which can be purchased at your local pet stores.

Supplementation with omega fatty acids (3V Capsules, DermCaps, etc) can help to improve the health of the skin and coat.

One thing that I make sure I use with my Labrador Retrievers and feel that all Labradors should be supplemented with is probiotics and digestive enzymes. Probiotics are live cultures found in yogurt which will help out in maintaining and increasing the good flora (bacteria) of the gut.

You could also supplement Star's diet with regular, non-flavored yogurt with live cultures daily. Make sure there are no sugars or sweeteners in it. You could add it to her food, or your can use it in the Kong toys if you use them. One reader of this blog stuffs it into the Kong toys and freezes it.

Some places to get probiotics and digestive enzymes:

Health and pet food stores: Acidophilus for dogs

1-800-PetMeds - NaturVet Enzymes & Probiotics

Only Natural Pet Store

Pet Enzymes

Here's a helpful article on probiotics:

The Benefits of Probiotics for Your Pet

Here are some things you can do to help Star with her paw itching:

You can soak her paws for five minutes, four times a day, in cool water. Add a sprinkle of Epsom salts to the water as it will also help soothe the paws. A compress applied to the paw for approximately five minutes will accomplish the same.

A nice cool bath can be helpful, since the water will assist in relieving the itching. You can add a little colloidal oatmeal (Aveeno) to the bathwater, which will help soothe the paws or your veterinarian can prescribe an antiseptic shampoo. Make sure you rinse Star's foot thoroughly after the bath, since any remaining soap that remains can make the itching worse.

Another method that you can try is Aloe Vera applied to the paw. Make sure its 100% Aloe Vera, like the kind from the plant (you can find in health store) not the mixture. This will also not hurt Star if she is to lick it off.

There is also the possibility of Star's constant licking being a case of boredom or stress.

For Star's condition around the eyes:

Mange is an irritation of the skin, which will generally result in hair loss and sometimes can include inflammation, rashes and itching.

Demodectic mange is caused by a microscopic mite called Demodex canis. These mites are a normal residents of your Labrador Retrievers skin, but not all Labradors are affected by them.

There are three forms of mange: localized, generalized, and demodectic pododermatitis. It is very possible Star is dealing with the localized demodectic mange.

Demodectic mange occurs when the immune system is suppressed, which basically causes these mites to "get out of control" causing hair loss as well as skin problems. It is found mostly in young dogs, who acquire it from their mothers.

In puppies, some of the first signs are usually hair loss around the eyes, chin, mouth and forelegs. These symptoms will often fade as your Lab pups immune system matures and is able to resist these mites, helping to clear it up by itself. "When a puppy develops localized demodicosis the chance of the condition resolving is 90% unless there is a family history of demodicosis in related dogs. In this case, chances drop to 50%."

Mange can be diagnosis by your veterinarian, usually by doing a test called a skin scraping. Your Labradors skin is scraped and then put under a microscope to check for the mite.

Some treatments include:

Rotenone (Goodwinol ointment)

Benzoyl peroxide 5 % gel applied daily

You can bath periodically with a benzoyl peroxide shampoo

Feed a high quality diet

Essential fatty acid supplementation

If the condition develops into generalized mange further treatments may include:

Amitraz Mitaban Dips

Interceptor RX


As I stated earlier, often it is best not to treat this condition and to simply allow it to resolve on its own. That is if Star does have demodectic mange, which your veterinarian will be able to tell you.

I hope this is of help for you and Star. Please keep me advised on Star's condition and please let me know what your veterinarian tells you, should you choose to take her. If you don't understand anything or have any questions, please don't hesitate to write.

Take care of yourself and Star,

To see some wonderful photos of the beautiful Star visit: Star 9/3/08

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