Dog Skin Irritation and Hair Loss

by Joyce
(Toronto, Canada)

Reader Question: Canine is suffering from skin irritation and hair loss


My daughter has a 6 year old Sheltie. In early September we noticed what we thought were knots in his fur. He was taken to the groomer who found sores so he was shaved from the collar back to his tail and my daughter was told that he had sores from his hair getting damp and never drying completely.

Three weeks later he was taken to the vet and my daughter was told to put an unscented powder on the weeping sores to dry them out. Two weeks after that the vet said to put aloe vera gel on him to help heal the sores. At that time blood work was done and when the results came back the vet still didn't know what was wrong with Tucker. She did say that his thyroid was off but she couldn't tell what was causing that either.

So far my daughter and her husband have spent nearly $400 in veterinary bills and still have no idea what is wrong with the dog or why he is getting worse. Now he has lost control of his bladder and bowels, he barely gets up because he seems to be in pain; he wanders around and doesn't respond when called. He still eats once a day if you put his food in front of him, but rarely drinks anymore.

I wish I had a picture of him
but his hair has never grown back and he has lost more so he no hair from his shoulders to his tail, most of the hair on his legs is gone and now it's coming off his face because he gets sores, he scratches and the hair comes out too.

Vet’s recommendations for dog skin irritation and hair loss

Hello Joyce,

It sounds like your daughter’s Sheltie is really suffering. Has your daughter called her veterinarian to let him or her know that the dog’s condition is worsening? As I’m afraid you are all learning, dog skin problems can be frustrating to deal with and take a long time to get to the bottom of. I always make sure that my own clients understand we are taking a step-wise approach to problem solving.

First we rule out some of the more common potential causes, institute appropriate treatment and then monitor. If the response is not adequate, then we move on to the next phase of diagnostic testing/treatment, monitor, and continue like that until we have our answer. This approach works well (and can save some money), but it requires constant communication between owner and veterinarian.

If your daughter is not pleased with the care/attention she is receiving from her current vet, it is time to look for help elsewhere. Making an appointment with a veterinary dermatologist is probably the most efficient (and ultimately cheapest) way to resolve Tucker’s skin problems.

Good Luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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