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Pet Doc
Pet Doc, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 7575
Experience:  Veterinarian - BVSc
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My 8 1/2yr old Pom is loosing fur off her back. She is in a

Customer Question

My 8 1/2yr old Pom is loosing fur off her back. She is in a clean environment home with no other animals? What going on?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Pet Doc replied 2 years ago.
Hi there,
Thank you for your question regarding your 8 year old Pom girl Spunky who has begun losing the fur off her back! There are a few possibilities as to the cause of this problem ranging from allergies to skin parasites to bacterial or yeast infections! It is also possible your girl has developed an endocrine problem given she is 'middle aged' now.
Firstly - you need to make sure that Spunky is definitely up to date with flea control. Make sure you are using a flea product appropriate for her weight. Even though you may not be able to see any fleas on her doesn't mean there are one or two lurking within her fur and oftentimes this is all it takes for a dog with flea allergy dermatitis. In your girl's case it does sounds like she may have an underlying allergy of some sort with secondary infection, however this could also be caused by parasites or fungi (ringworm or yeast).
Bascially dogs are allergic to four main things - food, fleas, grasses/plants (contact allergy) or environmental allergens (canine atopy - the dog version of ezcema). I am sure you have worked through all of these with your Veterinarian, but I always like to ensure I have talked through each of these with my clients here in New Zealand. Flea allergies are avoided by strict flea control - every 3 - 4 weeks with Advantage or Advocate or every 5 - 6 weeks with Frontline (or similar products). You must also ensure all pets in the household are treated at the same time. For a food allergy, you need to undertake a food trial with a 'hydrolysed protein' diet such as Royal Canin Anallergenic or Purina HA and needs to be fed SOLELY for at least 6 - 8 weeks. After this time if you are seeing a change in your dog's allergy you can slowly introduce different foods week by week with the guidance of your Veterinarian. Contact allergies are best treated by avoidance of the plants that are to blame, but identifying the exact cause of a contact allergy can be very hard. A referral to a canine skin specialist may be the way to go in your dog's case for either a skin patch test or a blood allergen test.
It is also possible that Spunky may have skin mites as they commonly cause hair loss. These could be either Demodex (less itchy) or Sarcoptes mites (VERY itchy) and you should ensure a full Veterinary check up so that he or she can carry out a physical examination and possibly a skin scrape to check for mites and lice, as well as signs of fleas. The next step would be to double check for fungal disease (such as ringworm) and there are several tests for this including a UV light and a fungal culture. It could also be that your dog has a bad yeast problem - and a good medicated shampoo such as Malaseb may well do the trick! Again a full Vet check will be able to confirm or deny this. If after these tests there is no diagnosis, the next step would be to carry out a food trial as above.
You really should get your girl checked out further by your Vet to try and pinpoint the underlying problem of her hairloss. It definitely sounds as though she may have a secondary bacterial and yeast infection (causing the smell) but the primary problem still needs to be definitively identified. For the best thing for her in the mean time, as above, is a medicated shampoo that will deal with both yeast and bacteria - Malaseb (or a similar product containing both Chlorhexidine and Miconazole) is the most ideally suited for this. This requires you to make a lather and leave this lather on for 10 minutes before washing off! For many clients this is easier said that done, but it is SO important. Please so not use baking soda or peroxide on the area, as this will definitely only make the problem worse!
We also have to consider other issues that can lead to hair loss. This would involve carrying out a blood test to rule out endocrine problems such as hypothyroidism, Cushings disease or addison's disease which can cause skin problems and hair loss.
I hope all of the above makes sense? Please let me know if you have any other questions. My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back. I am happy to address follow-up questions. Thank you for your business and I hope to work with you again soon!
Kind Regards,
Dr E
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Expert:  Pet Doc replied 2 years ago.
Hi again,
I hope you were able to follow up on this with your local veterinarian again. If you have any further questions regarding Spunky or any planned treatments for her, please just let me know.
Kind Regards,
Dr E