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Dog has dull, thin coat


GroomerHasIt
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Hey there, so I've been struggling alot lately with Bandit's coat health... I just don't know where to go from here.....

He has a staph infection, which is being treated and already is enormously improved, however, the rest of his coat is still brittle, dull, and thin.

He is so soft and thick and luxuriously coated in winter, but in summer it always thins and he itches quite a bit.

This year is the absolute worse. I'm hoping by the time his treatment with the staph infection is over it will improve, but I've seen little so far. Also, the vet did offer allergy testing at a cost of $300 for the full panel... (OUCH!)

I just don't know what to do. He is now on Solid Gold Holistique blends with a cod liver oil supplement. Does anyone have any other suggestion before I go spending an arm and a leg on the vet?

Thanks!

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Honestly, I would go for the allergy testing. You never know if something so easy to fix is causing these issues.

 

I've had some excellent success with adding fish oil to the dogs food once per day. I've tried salmon oil and cold water fish oil. I've had the best results with the cold water fish oil over the salmon oil, but results may vary depending on dog.

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+1 for the fish oil...and can you see if theres another vet with a more reasonably priced panel? Or can you do an "elimination" yourself and see what works?

 

I have a dog with a flea allergy. It took me 3 years to figure it out as I almost never see a flea. I searched for flea dirt, fleas, any evidence of infestation and found none, but one day I saw 1 single flea on the plume of his tail. I treated him with Frontline and his symptoms disappeared. Apparently he doesn't need an infestation to scratch and have his hair thin and fall out! Any chance you have fleas?

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Rushdoggie has made an important observation. It takes just one flea bit to set off a reaction in a dog that is allergic to flea bites. Because fleas spend a majority of their time off the dog, you may never actually see a culprit flea. That said, it sounds like your dog's problem is seasonal, which would point to allergies of some sort. I'd pay for the testing, even if I had to work out payments with the vet.

 

J.

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My first and cheapest approach is to make sure my dogs have enough fat in their diet - about 2% fat for every 3% protein (so, a kibble that is 21% protein should either have, or be supplemented to, about 14% fat). My one dog in particular, since he was a little pup, has needed sufficient fat or he gets flaky with a dull coat (and he's an itchy dog, particularly in summer, also).

 

Best wishes!

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My golden fits this description 150%. Well...she did. She had a gorgeous coat (once she recovered from demodex as a pup) during the winter but in the summer she itched herself so badly she got staph infections all the time. I finally broke down and did the allergy testing. The results:

 

She's allergic to everything. No, really. All types of grass, pollen, flowers, trees, shrubs, cats, dust mites, mold, fleas, human dander, chicken, lamb, kangaroo (not sure why they tested for that...), wheat, several grains, etc etc. Her results was over 2 pages long. :rolleyes:

 

They gave us allergy shots to give her on a weekly (now monthly) intervals that would desensitize her to the allergens. This, combined with special itch pills (to be given as needed), vitamin E, fish oil, and a fish based food and she rarely ever itches. This pollen season was apparently at an all time high around here and she rarely itched.

 

I really didn't want to spend the money, but I finally broke down and did it. I'm so glad I did as it was hard to watch my girl constantly scratching, getting a dull and thin coat, and overal just being miserable.

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Go for the allergy test as the others have said. It's a lot of dollars, but you'll have some answers immediately, and be able to go to work.

 

Shoshone has allergies to dust mites, (always present), Johnson grass, (it's everywhere here), mosquito bites, (not that big a deal) and wool, (yes, I have a herding dog who is allergic to the thing she's bred to work with). I found this out through an expensive allergy panel. I get amazing results when I keep the dust mite population down, and when I wipe her down with a damp cloth every time she comes in from outside. If I didn't have that information from the allergy panel, she'd be a much itchier doggy.

 

And watch out on the cod liver oil - it's very high in Vit A, and it's easy to get to toxic levels supplementing with it. You're better off going with salmon oil or one of the oil blend capsules they sell at pet supply/feed stores.

 

Good luck with Bandit.

 

Ruth

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Thanks to everyone for all the great advice! I have been fighting with just wanting to do the panel and see what the deal is, and that darn price tag. Anyways, actually something really rings a bell with me on the topic of fleas.

When we went in, my vet asked about fleas, and I replied that he has no fleas, I've looked. She said that the pattern of the spreading (of the staph infection) looked alot like it would be from fleas. (or something to that nature, I'm not quoting her or anything!) I was at a loss for words, and again said, I haven't seen fleas on him!

Anyways, she hadn't mentioned what rushdoggie had said, that it doesn't take an infestation, just one.

So anyways, were definately doing some frontline, and if still no results, I will have to take him to another vet for the allergy panel.

I love my vet, and drive about 40 minutes to get to her, she is always more costly, but I have always found her knowledge and holistic as well as conventional approaches worth it. On this I will just have to find a cheaper place and see if I can get the results to take to her perhaps.

Also, I will definately be trying the fat vs. protein supplementation.

Thanks everyone!

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So anyways, were definately doing some frontline, and if still no results, I will have to take him to another vet for the allergy panel.

GHI,

Remember that products like Frontline require the flea to bite, so the reaction to the bite will still occur. You might want to use Frontline Plus, which contains an insect growth regulator to affect other flea life stages, and you will also need to treat your premises, since fleas spend most of their time off the dog and so will need to be killed where they live (carpets, dog bedding, etc.).

 

J.

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GHI,

Remember that products like Frontline require the flea to bite, so the reaction to the bite will still occur. You might want to use Frontline Plus, which contains an insect growth regulator to affect other flea life stages, and you will also need to treat your premises, since fleas spend most of their time off the dog and so will need to be killed where they live (carpets, dog bedding, etc.).

 

J.

 

Frontline Plus won't kill fleas "absolutely" any more than Frontline will. The "Plus", as Julie alluded to, is S-methoprene. It prevents flea pupae from undergoing metamorphosis and becoming adults. That's how it breaks the life cycle of fleas. (Its environmental breakdown product has been shown to cause tadpoles to metamorphose into defective adult frogs. This breakdown product is a chemical that mimics retinoic acid - anyone here ever use Accutane for acne? then you know what I mean when I say it's "powerful medicine").

 

My last Border collie (from the days before Frontline) was acutely sensitive to flea bites. She'd tear her skin apart. We did what we could with flea collars and dips and treatment in our house, but she kept picking up fleas from the neighbors' dogs. (We lived in a duplex at the time, and the dogs shared a back yard). We had to keep her on prednisone - which itself is powerful medicine. So when people as me about "using chemicals" on my dogs to control fleas, all I can say is "thank doG for Frontline!" Still - I like frogs so I use the regular stuff, not the "Frontline Plus" with S-methoprene.

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Alchemist,

I think I was clear that Frontline Plus was for the IGR and not because it was somehow going to kill fleas "absolutely." I get the whole thing about IGRs in the environment too, but you've got to break the flea life cycle, so IMO it's worth using for the short term to break that life cycle. It's not as if using a tube or two, if disposed of properly, is going to put large amounts of IGR into the environment. It does the OP no good to spend a fortune on any sort of flea control product if the fleas remain in the environment, and that was the point of my post.

 

J.

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GHI,

Remember that products like Frontline require the flea to bite, so the reaction to the bite will still occur. You might want to use Frontline Plus, which contains an insect growth regulator to affect other flea life stages, and you will also need to treat your premises, since fleas spend most of their time off the dog and so will need to be killed where they live (carpets, dog bedding, etc.).

 

J.

 

According to everything I've read fleas do not need to bite in order to be killed by Frontline

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Maralynn,

I actually haven't used Frontline in years, since it stopped working for me, so I could be just remembering the part where ticks need to bite, and not fleas, though it seems odd to me that one type of critter would have to bite to be killed and not another, but then I haven't read the inserts lately, so who knows.

 

I was actually thinking of going back to Frontline since I've been using Advantix and am constantly picking ticks off my dogs. Maybe if I alternate from month to month I'll have better luck. I used to think that any protection was better than none, but now I'm beginning to think that I'd have just as much luck flushing my $$ down the toilet!

 

J.

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Maralynn,

I actually haven't used Frontline in years, since it stopped working for me, so I could be just remembering the part where ticks need to bite, and not fleas, though it seems odd to me that one type of critter would have to bite to be killed and not another, but then I haven't read the inserts lately, so who knows.

 

I was actually thinking of going back to Frontline since I've been using Advantix and am constantly picking ticks off my dogs. Maybe if I alternate from month to month I'll have better luck. I used to think that any protection was better than none, but now I'm beginning to think that I'd have just as much luck flushing my $$ down the toilet!

 

J.

 

I'm using Preventic collars this year because Bio-Spot wasn't working for ticks (worked fine in previous years). Bio-Spot and Adavntix have the same main ingredient, pemetherin. From everything I've read, the pemetherin based products do a better/faster job at both killing and repeling both fleas and ticks. Where frontline just kills them. But of course you need to be care with pemetherin around cats.

 

According to Merial FAQ on Frontline-

 

Fleas and ticks do not have to bite your pet for FRONTLINE Brand Products to work. FRONTLINE Brand Products kill fleas and ticks if they simply come into contact with your pet's haircoat. The fleas will die within 12 hours of contact with your treated pet**, and ticks will die within 48 hours.
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Interesting. Back when I was still using Frontline and I was talking with Merial regarding the failure to kill ticks and my fear of TBDs, etc., they were very clear that if the tick was biting, then the mouth parts were paralyzed (their claim) even if the tick was still alive and therefore the tick couldn't transfer the TBDs. They never once said to me that simply coming in contact with the product was enough to kill the tick and instead emphasized that if the tick was *biting* then it would eventually be killed and that even if it took 48 hours to die (more than enough time for the tick to transmit disease) that wasn't happening because of the paralysis thing. I wonder that the truth actually is?

 

And then that of course makes me wonder about all the claims the various spot on makers have made regarding improper application would result in product failure. If it needs to simply be on the hair in order to work, then why would it matter if the product wasn't entirely applied to the skin, but instead some ended up on the hair?

 

None of it makes sense to me.

 

J.

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Alchemist,

I think I was clear that Frontline Plus was for the IGR and not because it was somehow going to kill fleas "absolutely." I get the whole thing about IGRs in the environment too, but you've got to break the flea life cycle, so IMO it's worth using for the short term to break that life cycle. It's not as if using a tube or two, if disposed of properly, is going to put large amounts of IGR into the environment. It does the OP no good to spend a fortune on any sort of flea control product if the fleas remain in the environment, and that was the point of my post.

 

J.

 

Julie:

 

The reason why I brought this up is that I don't think most people are aware of the environmental hazards that can be posed by S-methoprene. I wanted to make sure that individuals (apart from the OP) who might be reading this thread gave some thought to the distinction between Frontline and Frontline Plus. In a paper written by La Clair et al (La Clair, J. J., et al., 1998, "Photoproducts and metabolites of a common insect growth regulator produce developmental deformities in Xenopus". Environmental Science and Technology, v. 32, pp. 1453-1461), the statement is made "The level of this material [s-methoprene] in these [flea-control] sprays is approximately 8 mM! At this level, a single recommended application to a 4.5 kg (10 lb.) pet could maximally transfer enough t-ME [s-methoprene] to contaminate 110 000 L". This paper showed that very low levels of the environmental breakdown products of S-methoprene can produce developmental deformities in exposed tadpoles.

 

I'm all for using the right tool for the task at hand. Ticks (at least in my area) merit nuclear weapons IMO. If I really had a severe problem with fleas I'd also consider all-out warfare, especially given my experiences with my last dog. But if it's only a matter of trying to kill an occasional flea picked up in passing, I'd give careful consideration to a formulation less likely to harm the environment. This is why I currently choose to use Frontline and not Frontline Plus.

 

By the way: I wouldn't be surprised to find that ticks and fleas respond differently to Frontline. Fleas are insects. Ticks aren't.

 

Also, some fraction of the product applied is absorbed by the dog. I've always assumed that this is what helps it retain efficacy over the course of a month, and explains why they don't want you to wash the dog for a few days after application (but it's OK to wash it thereafter). I'm guessing that's to give it sufficient time to be absorbed. (Disclaimer: I'm not a vet).

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Regarding allergy tests, if you are not going to go through allergy shots, I think they are of limited benefit. Think about exactly what you are going to do with the information. Your dog does not seem to be affected in the winter, so if it is allergies, it is something that he is primarily exposed to in the summer that is pushing him over the edge & causing problems. Not sure about your environment or climate, but typically a summer-only allergy is some kind of pollen or grass. Rarely will your allergy test results say that the dog is allergic to one or two easy-to-remove things in the environment.

 

Other than trying allergy shots, there is little you are going to do about that. Often, topical remedies such as frequent baths with a mild shampoo help. Or, using Benadryl periodically before he gets an outbreak - you will have to pay attention and note when his problems start in the spring/summer.

 

Also note that allergies are usually cumulative - meaning that there is some allergic reaction to several things. Often, these are at a low enough level to not cause a problem, but then you add one more allergen or the level of one increases & it pushes the immune system over the edge & have a problem. Also note that all allergy tests are not created equal. They vary considerably depending on the number of allergens being tested for and how they are combined. One allergy test might test for 30 things while another tests for 50 things. And they combine various pollens, grasses, fibers, etc in different ways, so the results might be different for one test vs another. I think these variables make it extremely difficult to interpret results and form a successful strategy for dealing with the problem. Unless a vet is very experienced with doing allergy tests, I think it is just as difficult for them & I would want to work with a vet that does allergy tests regularly.

 

Personally, I think you would be better off coming up with a reasonable strategy yourself based on the information that you know and observe. Also note that any change, particularly if your dog is in the middle of an episode, could take weeks, if not months to see real results. Also, have you done complete bloodwork, including a thyroid panel?

 

 

From someone who has dealt with and been frustrated by continuing allergy problems in a dog.........gail

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Also, some fraction of the product applied is absorbed by the dog. I've always assumed that this is what helps it retain efficacy over the course of a month, and explains why they don't want you to wash the dog for a few days after application (but it's OK to wash it thereafter). I'm guessing that's to give it sufficient time to be absorbed. (Disclaimer: I'm not a vet).

 

My understanding is it sits in the hair follicles, attracted to body oils and spreading with them. Thats why you shouldn't put it on a freshly shampooed dog (no oils on the skin to help it spread) and why you can shampoo after it has spread (once it is in the follicles when you wash the skin oils off the skin it won't wash away).

 

I do occasionally see a dead flea sitting on one of my dogs (they are all mostly white making a dead flea easy to spot), I don't know how quickly it kills them but its quick enough they die on the dog.

 

And to the OP: have you had the dogs thyroid checked? If he is low thyroid in combination with an allergy you are going to see serious coat changes.

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Gail

I see your point about the allergy tests, I'm just so flustered because I did do benadryl daily for about 2 weeks when I first noticed the hair loss, and it made no difference in his itching behaviors. I've figured it must be seasonal, pollen or grass or something, like you said. But then I would think the Benadryl would have made even a little tiny difference. And the other thing is that the intensity of the itching and hair loss gets worse every summer.

As far as the allergy shots go, I worry about whether there are side effects and whether my vet would give the shot without first finding out if he has an allergy or not. It's definitely worth talking with her about though. I have been told to put him on prednisone, (I believe that is what is called - the steroid pill?) but I have heard that it damages the liver over time - and he's only 4 years old!

I have bathed using oatmeal bathes and it seems to make no difference, or possibly make it a little worse. I bathed him about every 2-4 weeks.

He's been on every food under the sun for allergies - no difference.

He stays in his crate during the day when I am at work, and there is always huge puffs of hair in it, undercoat as well as topcoat - I assume he itches all day until he makes it fall out. - I just don't know what to try next... Any suggestions?

Thanks

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As far as the allergy shots go, I worry about whether there are side effects and whether my vet would give the shot without first finding out if he has an allergy or not. It's definitely worth talking with her about though.

 

When I did allergy testing on my golden they took a blood sample and sent it off. In about 2 weeks I got the results (which like I said above, was pretty much 3 pages long). I went in to the vet to talk about what our options were. I decided on taking the allergy shot route. The vet contacted the lab and they made us specific shots just for my dog to desensitize her to the allergens. Once I got the vial I brought it into the vet and they showed me how to give her the shot myself. Pretty easy.

 

They kept her for about thirty minutes to make sure there were no side effects -- there weren't so we went home. Our schedule was every 3-5 days increase the dosage until she was on her desired dose (.5ml) once a week. We did this for a month then went to every other week, then every three weeks, etc. Six months later we are doing it once a month and she rarely itches. Ever. Her fur has grown back thicker and so soft. When she does itch, they prescribed me a pill to give her on an as needed basis that usually stops her itching quickly.

 

On a side note, I gave her Benedryl for several months while she was itching and it didn't do a darn thing. My vet said I could even up the dose and it still didn't make a difference.

 

So long story short, the allergy shots are specifically made for your dog to desensitize them to the allergens and my girl (and several friends who have done this) never had a reaction. The only shot my vet did without doing the testing first was a cortisone shot because she itched herself so badly she got several staph infections.

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Gail

I see your point about the allergy tests, I'm just so flustered because I did do benadryl daily for about 2 weeks when I first noticed the hair loss, and it made no difference in his itching behaviors. I've figured it must be seasonal, pollen or grass or something, like you said. But then I would think the Benadryl would have made even a little tiny difference. And the other thing is that the intensity of the itching and hair loss gets worse every summer.

As far as the allergy shots go, I worry about whether there are side effects and whether my vet would give the shot without first finding out if he has an allergy or not. It's definitely worth talking with her about though. I have been told to put him on prednisone, (I believe that is what is called - the steroid pill?) but I have heard that it damages the liver over time - and he's only 4 years old!

I have bathed using oatmeal bathes and it seems to make no difference, or possibly make it a little worse. I bathed him about every 2-4 weeks.

He's been on every food under the sun for allergies - no difference.

He stays in his crate during the day when I am at work, and there is always huge puffs of hair in it, undercoat as well as topcoat - I assume he itches all day until he makes it fall out. - I just don't know what to try next... Any suggestions?

Thanks

Benedryl does nothing for my Celt's itchiness so I got him an antihistamine from the vet, which does not stop the itching but which helps reduce it to a more tolerable level. He gets one Hydroxyzine 50mg twice daily with his meals. It doesn't solve his problem but it makes him much less itchy, much more comfortable, and easier to live with.

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I am no expert, but my dog went though losing her hair last year after the vet put her on a famous brand name dog food that had grains in it. wheat i think. before that she was on biljac and had the most beautiful coat. i took her off bil jac because i thought it was too fattening, but maybe i was giving her too much. she is now on taste of the wild and doing fine now, but still not losing weight. i may go back to bil jac, giving her a cup a day. she had a beautiful coat before but it isn't bad now, and she isn't losing any more weight, nor hair. the vet ran a thyroid test for her weight. expensive. then he thought fleas. for some reason she has not had a big problem with fleas this year even though i am sure she has some. at least she is not losing hair in patches. i only put meds on her when she starts getting ticks again and it has been awhile. or if she were going crazy with scatching. i hope you find the source of the problem.

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Groomer - Sorry about your dog's problems - like I said, I know exactly what you are going through & how frustrating it is.

 

With allergy tests, there are 2 kinds - a blood test & a skin test. When I was dealing with allergies and my dog, most regular vets would use a blood test (because that's all they have access to), but most dermatologists would use a skin test & felt they gave more accurate results. I actually had both done & had very different results with the two. But that is why I would go to a dermatologist if I had the option - I would much prefer having a specialist that runs and reviews these tests daily to a vet that is reading a report from some lab.

 

As stated, an allergy shot is developed custom for your dog based on the results of that test. They are not always effective at eliminating or even reducing the problem. In fact, they commonly cause an allergic reaction when starting them (since you are injecting what the dog is allergic to into their system). But, they often are effective. The shots are not cheap and they are usually a life-long investment, not a one-time deal. I tried them, with only moderate success.

 

I think you will find that what works for one dog may or may not help your dog. You have to find what gives the most relief to your dog at a price that you can afford. Benadryl may not be effective for all, but it is cheap enough that it is worth a try. I think it only helped my dog when I gave her so much that it made her tired - she wasn't scratching because she was sleeping! I have a friend with a dog with very severe food allergies that uses Prescription Diet Z/D with great success. But, it is very expensive. You never said if you had complete bloodwork, including a thyroid panel, done. The thyroid can have dramatic effects on the skin & coat.

 

Pred definitely can have side effects, but it may be worthwhile for you to use to help you dog get over the hump of the allergy season. If it was only 2 months out of the year that my dog had to be on pred & I could manage it in other ways the rest of the time, I might choose that option. Keep in mind that pred can have other side effects in addition to liver problems. It can cause increased drinking and urination that may be problematic to manage.

 

You have to balance what you can reasonably do for your dog, what you can afford to do, and your dog's quality of life.

 

gail

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