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Dr. Gabby
Dr. Gabby, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
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I have an American Bulldog-Johnson type who is rapidly losing

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I have an American Bulldog-Johnson type who is rapidly losing her hair. She is raw and scabbed over in all areas of her body. It looks like she has big flakes of what appears to be dandruff all over. She is 9 months old, but it started showing up when her food was changed from ProPlan to Alpo and has not improved since being changed again to Showtime 31%. She is around other Johnson American Bulldogs who are not experiencing this problem. No one seems to be able to figure out what this is. Is this something you can help with?
Hello and thank you for asking your question. My name isXXXXX will try to help.
Food allergies and environmental allergies would be at the top of the list. They can show up as early as 6 months of age.
Beef, chicken, lamb, corn, wheat, and soy are the most common food allergens. Food allergies develop over months to years.
To determine if she has food allergies, she would need to be put on a completely hypo-allergenic diet for 6 weeks. The name of the hypo-allergenic diet is "hills z/d." It is a prescription diet and you have to get it from a veterinarian. There are no over the counter completely hypo-allergenic diets. It is only about $10-$15 more a month so it is not that bad if it fixes the skin issue. If her skin improves, then you know it is food allergies.
I feed my own dogs "proplan sensitive skin" which is low allergen but not completely hypo-allergenic and will not work for the food allergy test.
She could also have environmental allergies. This is called "atopy" or "atopic dermatitis." The dog's skin comes in contact with the allergens and then they are absorbed into the skin causing an allergic reaction. Your vet can do a blood allergy test to see what she is allergic to. Then she could receive allergy shots to desensitize her to the allergens. The allergy shots are 50-75% effective. We also treat atopy symptomatically with antihistamines, shampoos, topical creams and sprays, cortisone, and immune suppressing medications.
You can try human benadryl at a dose of 1 mg per pound every 12 hours.
Some dogs are sensitive to essential oils. Instead, I would use a mild oatmeal based shampoo.
Flea saliva allergy can also cause an allergic reaction. Make sure she is on a high quality flea control plan every month. Frontline, Advantage, and Comfortis are all good options. You can continue to treat the environment but that alone will not cause fleas.

Omega 3 fatty acids can help with skin inflammation. Fish oil is a good source of omega-3s. One teaspoon, per 15 pounds of weight, twice a day. You can buy it at the drug store or the health food store. Put it on her food.
To be thorough, she should also have a fungal culture to rule out ringworm which is a fungal infection. This is done by having a vet pluck hairs from an affected area and put those hairs on a special fungal growth gel. If she has ringworm, or a fungal infection, she will need topical and oral anti-fungal medications.
She should also have a skin scrape, done by the vet, to make sure she does not have demodex mange or sarcoptic mange. This is an easy quick test where the vet scrapes some skin cells, from an affected area, and looks at them under the microscope. If she has mange, he will need anti-parasitic medications.

Hypothyroidism is common in dogs. This means the thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormone. Dogs will low thyroid levels have chronic skin issues. Your vet can take a blood sample and check her thyroid levels. If her levels are low, then a daily thyroid replacement supplement can be given.
I hope this helps.

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Hi Alyssa,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Medusa. How is everything going?

Dr. Gabby