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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 28931
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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My 14 yr. old cocker spaniel has been having some health

Customer Question

My 14 yr. old cocker spaniel has been having some health issues and at one point a couple of months ago was hospitalized with IV fluids for several days. I was told by my vet. that he was sending her home, but that she may get sick again and pass away. We fully expected this and got as emotionally ready as possible. Now, a couple of months later, she is doing well. She is eating us out of house and home, drinking two bowls of water a day and seems to have a little more stamina. The big problem now is that her shinny blonde coat has become thin, wiry, and VERY dry. What can I do to help with her coat? She has always had skin issues, ie hot spots, dry and scaley skin, but nothing like this.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. What is the dog's name?
Customer: Molly
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Molly?
Customer: No
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 10 months ago.

You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm currently typing up my reply.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Thank you
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 10 months ago.

I'm sorry to hear of this with Molly. Were you given a diagnosis for her health issues a couple of months ago? I need to consider if her coat quality could have been affected by those issues.

You've described an elderly dog likely to suffer from hypothyroidism which can cause those coat changes as well as a litany of other symptoms affecting most every body system. Dermatologic symptoms include a bilaterally symmetrical truncal alopecia or thin hair, hyperkeratosis (excess keratin/a structural protein) forming on her skin, seborrhea (a disorder of skin maturation/keratinization), hyperpigmentation, otitis (ear canal inflammation), "rat tail", and pyoderma (bacterial skin infection) are often present with alopecia or thin hair most common.

I recommend that a T4 (total thyroid blood test) and fT4 (free thyroid blood test) be performed. The fT4 can help Molly's vet determine if Molly's thyroid gland isn't working up to snuff or, instead, a problem elsewhere in her body is affecting her thyroid gland and preventing it from working efficiently. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Sorry to be so long in responding back. I had to run some errands. Two months ago the diagnosis was enlarged liver with possible tumor behind the liver/pancreas. Kidney functions were off slightly, but eventually leveled off. Liver function was off but not extreme. She seemed to be dying. My vet. did all he could to make her comfortable and sent us home with antibiotics in case of an infection in the pancreas. As I said, she seems to be fine now, except for the coat issue.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 10 months ago.

No worries. Thank you for the additional information. That sounds nice to be wrong! Let's pursue the simple diagnosis of hypothyroidism now. Please continue our conversation if you wish.