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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 25542
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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I was just reading your response to the person who's

Customer Question

Customer: Hi, I was just reading your response to the person who's Labrador is shedding and panting. I have a 13 yr old lab that is doing the same thing and it's winter which I thought odd. He still gets around pretty well but has thinned down a bit even though he eats well and goes to the bathroom regularly. My name is ***** *****
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: Well, Duke is moving halfway into his 13th birthday. At times he seems a little disoriented. I have noticed quite a bit of hair in places around the house although there are no bald spots on Duke. He is losing some control of his hindquarters but still trots on walks when it's cold outside.
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Customer: Of course.
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Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. As you can imagine, shedding and panting are nonspecific symptoms with many etiologies. For example, excessive panting can represent both medical and behavioral problems. It's often seen with elevated ambient temperature, exercise, anxiety, or perceived pain. To confound the diagnosis further, it's also seen with fever, narcotic administration, glucocorticosteroid (prednisone, e.g.) therapy, Cushing's disease, hyperthyroidism, hypocalcemia, pheocromocytoma (an adrenal gland tumor), cardiac disease, tachyarrhythmias (fast irregular heart rates), brain disease and obesity.

Shedding is a normal phenomenon in dogs and cats, but some animals shed more than others - a common owner complaint. Some animals shed more in spring and fall and others shed excessively year round. In spite of continual hair loss, no alopecia or skin abnormalities is associated. Although hairs epilate easily, focal areas of alopecia can't be created. Top differentials that Duke's vet should consider include superficial pyoderma (a staph infection usually), adult onset demodicosis (a mange mite), anagen or telogen defluxion (excess shedding due to changes in the growing cycle) and causes of endocrine (hormonal) alopecia such as hypothyroidism, hyposomatotropism (low levels of growth hormone) and Cushing's disease; hair cycle arrests, canine pattern baldness, recurrent flank alopecia should all be considered as well. Treatment includes grooming every day to remove shed hairs before they fall off. The diet should be balanced. Dietary fatty acid supplementation may be helpful. Because of the unique nature of each commercially available product, see the actual label recommendations of that product for specific dosage recommendations. Sometimes outdoor animals improve when brought indoors and vice versa. The prognosis is good. Although excessive shedding is annoying to owners, affected animals are usually otherwise healthy.

I recommend having Duke's vet perform a thorough physical exam including a senior/geriatric diagnostic panel of blood and urine tests. The panel will include a T4 (total thyroid) blood test which is what we need to identify the presence of hypothyroidism - an important consideration in Duke. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.