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Bald Spot


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My 5 year old Border Collie has a bald spot on her left side. I have taken her to two different vets. Both thought it was allergies and put her on steriods and antibiotics. The meds made the spot smaller, but now that she is off the meds, it has gotten bigger. There are small bumps around the perimeter of the spot and she does bite the spot occassionally. I don't know what to do next. Change food, get another vet opinion, or try my regular vet again? Could hypothyroid cause a bald spot on one side? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks. L

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Hi L

Thyroid disease does cause hair loss (as can other hormonal disorders), but usually it's bilaterally symmetrical (same pattern on both sides of the dog) and it usually is NOT itchy. I will say that thyroid disease can predispose to infections of the skin, which often ARE itchy, and NOT symmetrical, but that's a secondary problem. The way to be sure it isn't thyroid disease is to test for it. However, it doesn't sound like it in your dog, at least not at first blush.


The bumps at the edge of the lesion *sound* like bacterial infection is at least part of the problem, though naturally I can't tell for sure without looking at her. Fungal infection is also a possibility (ring worm), and that can be ruled in or out by fungal culture and/or Wood's lamp exam and/or KOH prep (your vet will know what these tests are). If the antibiotics and steroids were given at the same time, it's not clear to me which one caused the improvement; could be either or both. There could be other disease present, such as autoimmune skin disorders or certain types of parasites; a biopsy or serial skin scrapes will help track that down. (Certain mites are very hard to find on scrapes, and may take several tries to find.)


A general rule of thumb for skin trouble:

If it itches first, and then the skin changes, it's very often immune system diorders (allergies, autoimmune problems).

If the skin changes first and then it itches, it's very often infectious (bacterial, fungal, and parasitic).


I'll point out that sometimes the skin changes that precede the itch can be subtle and easily missed, so that's why this is used as a rule of thumb and not a hard-and-fast rule.


Rarely, you can have something like a tumor in the skin present like this; a biopsy would help you there as well, but at your dog's age, cancer is pretty unlikely.


Skin disease can be VERY frustrating, and I often tell my clients who have animals with certain skin disorders that we're going to get to be REALLY good friends, since we'll be working closely together on it for quite some time. I'll hope your dog has something simple that can be cleared up for good. I'll also mention that sometimes it's helpful to see a specialist (in your case, a board-certified veterinary dermatologist). They cost more up front, but sometimes they can hone in on it faster and may save you money in the long run. I'm not sure you're to that point yet, but if you get frustrated, that might be an option.


Good luck with this!

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Thank you so much for the info. I think it is important that I go to the vet with some education. It helps me answer their questions more acuurately. The first vet put the dog on antibiotics and steriods which helped. The second vet just put the dog on steroids but for a longer period. At the time I went to the second vet(a few weeks after the first), Sophie's skin looked fine, not bumpy. There was nothing for the vet to scrap. That was probably from the first course of medicine.

Now there is bumps so I will take her back to get more tests. I am trying to figure out if the skin changed first or the itch came first. It is hard to tell. I never even saw her biting her side and all the sudden she had a bald spot. We have caught her biting a few times lately.

Thanks again for your reply. I will let you know what the vet finds out. Thanks, Laura

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You are so right about going to a vet with some education. You can also avoid getting overcharged or something unnecessary things done. It almost happened to me but this board saved me 400 bucks and some stress on my pup.


Hope it will get better soon!

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I use this aromasalve


For any bites, scratches, infections, sores, rashes etc. I know it is for horses but it works brilliantly on dogs and people too.


It's really worth having in just incase, although its best to put a little lavender oil on it, to stop your dog licking it off. I have never seen anything heal a wound so fast.


Unfortunately you will have to pay shipping from england..but I found it invaluable.

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Just wanted to let you know that I took Sophie back to the vet. She feels that the bald spot is indeed allergies. She did do a skin scraping, and it was negative. She also thinks Sophie's fur is thin all over which I agree with. We put Sophie back on Prednisone and also 3V Caps Liquid HP to help her coat. If I don't see improvement in a few weeks, I guess we go to the next step. Thanks for the information. The vet said the same things that you had told me so I felt confident in her assessment. I will keep you posted as Sophie's fur grows-hopefully! Laura

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