Testing for Dog Hair Loss

by Kirsten
(Carbondale, CO)

I have a 10 year old black male who 2 months ago had this black crusty, scab growth under his fur. It started to fall out and irritate him and he picked it raw in many places. It's a large area on his side and a strip on his back.

The vet said it looked bacterial, treated him with antibiotics and steroids and it seemed to go away. But, his hair will not grow back and just today I noticed new scabs and some bleeding on his spine (which seems too far away for him to have chewed).

The vet did not specify what it was and said it wouldn't be necessary to send samples to the lab unless it flared up again or spread. She also said those tests would be very expensive.

Is this a condition anyone has ever heard of and is there any way to help his hair grow back?

Comment from our Vet Testing for Dog Hair Loss

Hi Kirsten,

The problem with diagnosing skin problems in dogs without testing is that the skin tends to react in exactly the same way no matter what the underlying disease is. So, the scabs and irritation that you describe could be from a bacterial infection, fungal infection, parasites, allergy, immune disorder, cancer, etc., and there is no way to differentiate between them without doing some testing.

Your vet said that sending samples to the lab wouldn’t be necessary unless the problem reoccurred. Well, guess what, it did. Some tests are expensive, but there are also some simple and inexpensive things that can be done like a skin scrapings to look for mites, skin cytology to look for infection, fungal cultures to rule out ringworm, and even treatment based on your vet’s “best guess” after ruling out a few of the more common problems.

Most vets are very willing to take a step-wise approach when money is tight. If you mention your financial concern to your vet, I’m sure he’ll do what he can to keep your costs down as long as it doesn’t compromise your dog’s health.

Good luck!

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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Jan 28, 2016
what did u find out?
by: Anonymous

Did you ever find out what it was? My dog has several patches of black crusty skin too. I've tried scraping it off and its red and bloody But comes back and spreads more. Making a vet appointment this week.

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