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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Dog Veterinarian
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Question relates to my rescue, Gatsby, who has been slowly

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Question relates to my rescue, Gatsby, who has been slowly losing his fur over the last two months. Gatsby is approx. 1 1/2 years old and 20 lbs. I believe he's a Rat Terrier / Italian Greyhound mix, although recently had his DNA tested and "official" results were: Shetland Sheepdog, Rat Terrier, Dachshund, Schnauzer.

His fur loss started in October on the top of his nose in an area that just looked a little white. I brought him to the vet in November when I noticed two bald spots about the size of a dime on each side of his body (in almost identical spots). They did a skin scrape and tested for mange which came back negative. The vet's initial thoughts was that this was nothing to worry about, that it's somewhat common in young dogs, possibly allergies, should go away on it's own, and that I should just keep an eye on the hair loss.

Over the past month since the vet visit, the two dime size spots have started to fill in. His nose looks the same, maybe slightly better. But he's now lost a substantial amount of hair around both eyes, around his ears, and the top of his head.

His diet from June - September was Solid Gold Wee-Bits (bison). I switched him to Wellness Core (grain-free) after noticing after doing research that suggested it could be a food allergy. I haven't noticed any changes in his eating habits or energy levels. He is a lean dog, extremely hyper and full of energy, and usually walked 3-4 times a day. All of my dogs are on heartworm pills and are given flea/tick medication regularly.

Any suggestions as to what may be causing this condition? At this point, would you recommend another test for mange, or bloodwork to rule out any thyroid issues?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Hello Alexandra, I'm Dr. Deb. I'll do my best to help you today.
I'm sorry to hear about this concern for Gatsby.

I do have a few questions to ask about him first, if you don't mind:

1. Is he itchy?
2. Or is the hair just falling out and you find the bald spots?

There may be a slight delay after I receive your answers since I have to type up a response to you. Thanks for your patience. Deb

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi, Dr. Deb. Thanks for getting back to me so quickly! In response to your questions:

  1. No, these bald spots don't seem to bother him at all. Also, his skin doesn't seem irritated and is not red in any of the thinning areas.

  2. Yes. When I first got him over the summer, he hardly shed at all. He's shedding a lot more lately which surprised me since it's only getting colder here in PA.

Some pics which show the progression of his fur loss in case they're helpful:

June 2013 | November 2013 | December 2013


Sorry, but I had to step away from my computer and have just now seen your responses.
Thanks so much for the pictures; they are very helpful...and what a really cute dog although I surely don't see the Sheltie in him nor the Dachshund or Schnauzer for that matter:)

This looks like it might be Demodex mites to me (LINK).
Usually we can find these mites fairly easily when we perform a skin scrape but sometimes it can something of a challenge.
These lesions wouldn't be consistent with Sarcoptes Mange mites since he's not itchy.

His skin lesions wouldn't be consistent with a food allergy either, at least not the ones I've seen in the past.

He's also quite young for a thyroid condition although I suppose it's possible.

Ringworm (a fungal infection) might present as hair loss of this sort. (LINK) so I wouldn't entirely rule this out either. It can be a contagious condition but it isn't in all cases. In other words, it can't be ruled out just because none of your other dogs are experiencing a similar problem.

If this were my case, I'd rescrape him in multiple areas of his body. If demodex is diagnosed, then I probably wouldn't treat him systemically but rather topically with Goodwinol (LINK) being really careful not to get any in his eyes. Benzyl peroxide cream can also be applied daily (I'd check labels at a human pharmacy for appropriate products).
But if you decide to treat systemically, I'd avoid Ivermectin since he does have some Collie in him (see Ivermectin sensitivity under the link I sent about Demodex). Of course, you could have him tested to see if he carries the mutated MDR1 gene; if he doesn't, then you could safely use this drug for him.

I hope this helps and gives you several options to consider. Deb

I realized that the LINK for Ringworm actually took you to the Demodex link so I'm providing the correct one here (LINK). Sorry about that.. Deb
Dr. Deb and other Dog Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you

Thanks for the rating and bonus; it's greatly appreciated.

I hope you'll keep me posted about Gatsby.

Even though you've rated, we can still continue to communicate at no additional charge to you. I can also send you a follow up email next week to which you can respond when you have the time to do so.

Regards, Deb

Kindly ignore the request for additional information.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks Dr. Deb. I really appreciate your quick and thorough response. The information you provided is helpful and has put my mind at ease a bit. The hours of research I was doing online about fur loss were turning up some scary, serious conditions that were starting to make me worry and figured I better stop googling and just go to an expert.


I'm going to schedule a follow-up appointment in the morning with our local vet. They're usually able to see me the same day, but either way I'll keep you posted!

PS - I agree.. I don't see any of those breeds in him except for the Rat Terrier. But good point about the Collie gene.. I'm going to give my vet the DNA results in case there's any treatment that I may want to avoid based on the breeds that showed up in the report.


Thanks again!

You're more than welcome; I'm glad that I could ease your mind about what might be going on with Gatsby.

This isn't the first case I've seen where the DNA testing results leaves me scratching my head..and I suspect it won't be the last! But, I agree that it would be best to be prudent where possible drug reactions are concerned.

I'll look forward to chatting with you further about this fur loss. Regards, Deb