Balding and pimples down spine

staccato84

New Member
Hi all

Our blue doberman Bella has thinning hair and occasional pimples growing amongst the thinning hair. All down the centre of her back.

She’s 7 months old and it began at around 4-5 months as a thin racing stripe down her spine. The last 2-3 weeks it’s got worse and worse as the photos show. Today she had 2 pimples - I squeezed them and one had fresh red blood in it and the other contained brown pus.

I’ve taken her to the vet. The vet said she’s not sure what it is. She gave me a course of steroids, antibiotics, a mite treatment and a chlorhexidine shampoo to try but nothing has worked.

Her diet started on eukabuba as a small puppy. We then changed it to Naturaw puppy raw food. The thinning had started by that time so after about 6 weeks on raw we switched her to Arden grange kibble, then a much more expensive Orijen kibble. Nothing food related has fixed the issue either.

Her bedding gets washed once a week in non bio baby washing liquid but I’ve also tried washing it with no detergent also.

Have a look at the photos under direct sunlight and you can see what I mean!

Next step is likely to go back to vets but they seem to just be throwing things at her in the hope of a solution so what should I encourage the vet to do next?
 

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Tropicalbri's

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Being a blue, it is possible it is CDA with secondary pyoderma or staff infection, yeast overgrowth or both.
I would be hesitant to use steroids at her young age.
Her immune system is still immature.

Was a skin scraping done to r/o demodex or other mites?
A culture and sensitivity done? That is important to determine which antibiotic to use.
What antibiotic did the Vet dispense?
 

staccato84

New Member
The scrape and a blood test were the next suggestion from the vet. Bella would have to be sedated for the blood test they’re suggesting.

Not sure what the antibiotics were. She finished the course a few days ago and I’ve thrown the packet away.
 

Tropicalbri's

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What blood test are they doing that requires sedation?
Is she fractious when she is at the Vet clinic?
Maybe they are doing a skin biopsy?
Are they requiring her to fast before the blood draw?
If so be sure to keep water available for her since fasting of both food and water will dehydrate her and make it more difficult to draw blood.
Most fasting is just for food only, not water unless she is a big water consumer. Then only give her a cup at a time every hour.

If they are doing an allergy test that requires shaving spots of hair and injecting an allergen to watch for reaction then we would give anesthesia, otherwise no sedation is required.

Ask your Vet to research Color Dilute Alopecia (CDA) before doing any costly and drastic testing.
@GennyB can give you more info on CDA and how to manage it.
 

staccato84

New Member
Thanks for the replies. I’m considering changing vets for Bella. We have 2 spaniels and recent diagnosis of an issue we had with our 12 year old female was highly inaccurate.

I’m not medically trained so I have no choice but to take the vets advice. The appointment basically went ‘we’ll try medication first, then you’ll have to come back for a skin scraping and blood work but the blood test we’ll have to sedate her as she’s a bit anxious’. She’s not anxious - she’s a guarding breed and doesn’t run up to every adult she sees licking them or wagging her tail. She works them out first!

I’m desperately hoping it’s not CDA. The rest of her coat is entirely immaculate. There’s not a single blemish anywhere else. Does hair loss happen in such a perfectly uniform way for cda? Straight down the line of the spine then widening? I couldn’t have made it more symmetrical if I’d have used a tape measure and pair of hair clippers!

Also, when this issue began, she had a patch 1 inch in size at the base of her tail. Over time this patch has completely healed and hair regrown.
 

Kaiser2016

Well-Known Member
Does she lay with her back rubbing or pressed against something? Could be an irritation from some chemical/scented product exposure? Does she wear a coat that may be rubbing along her spine?

I do agree that you should change vets. Drawing blood should not require sedation.
 

GennyB

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I’ve taken her to the vet. The vet said she’s not sure what it is. She gave me a course of steroids, antibiotics, a mite treatment and a chlorhexidine shampoo to try but nothing has worked.
Whoa! :shock: That a LOT to throw at a dog, never mind a puppy! Did the Vet do a scrape to verify mites?

Here's the thing....you have a blue dobie. You will more than likely deal with skin issues of varying degrees. Deep breath! It gonna be okay.
Skin issues can be a REAL PITA and take forever to resolve, if you can resolve them. I would research, reseARCH, RESEARCH dilute dobies and their special "issues". There is tons of info right here on DCF as well as facebook groups and other blogs dedicated to the dilutes. Read. ask questions and learn. Then decide how you are going to proceed and then just stay the course. Try things one at a time and give it time to work. It can take 2 months or more to see progress because you are working from the inside out.
One thing I would suggest is sunblock! The best dilute coat will most likely still be thinner than a black coat. Gotta protect that skin! Don't don't want to add cancer to the equation.
 

staccato84

New Member
Just thought I’d jump back on with an update.

So I’ve tried antibiotics, chlorhexadine wash, chlorhexadine mousse, daily hemp oil, fish oil, antihistamines, mite treatment. Since our ownership she’s been on standard kibble, then grain free kibble, then raw food and in the last 3 weeks she’s been on a prescription single source protein food with no additional food handouts at all to check for dietary allergies. Nothing has worked.

What I’ve noticed is her coat is immaculate everywhere - silky, flake free, smooth and soft but the centre of her back is spiky hair, very oily and greasy and the occasional breakout of pimples seems to be clogged pores as the contents of the pimples are often brown puss. The flaking skin in this area is often wet with oils so much so it sticks to the skin and doesn’t actually flake off when scratched. I’ve read that this is usually caused by excess sebum and it does link to some kind of thyroid issue but my vet keeps insisting it’s colour dilute alopecia. There does seem to be new hair growth making an attempt as the balding isn’t getting worse and worse. It seems to have halted at the current stage.

I’m not convinced it is CDA though. It’s almost like the skin hasn’t got the right conditions for hair growth. Something hormonal causing excess sebum along that section of the back?

Any advice hugely appreciated!! I’ve attached an updated photo from 27th feb.
 

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staccato84

New Member
This is what I found online that seems to match quite closely to what she has:

‘The excess sebum produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin accumulates in certain places, such as along the back’

‘It may leave an oily feel when you stroke your dog’

Possible causes:
  • Allergies - usually in younger dogs
  • Obesity
  • Parasites
  • Endocrine (hormonal) diseases - such as thyroid disease or Cushing’s disease, which usually affect middle aged or older dogs
  • Dietary deficiencies - diets containing low levels of omega-3 fatty acids
  • Malabsorption disorders
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Environmental factors (temperature, humidity)
  • Musculoskeletal disease or pain - leading to inadequate grooming
Diagnosis:

  • Physical examination
  • Skin scrapings and hair pluckings - to check for skin parasites
  • Skin cytology, as well as fungal and bacterial cultures of the skin and hair
  • Faecal analysis - to check for parasites
  • Urinanalysis and blood tests (complete blood count, biochemistry panel and more specific screening tests) - to rule out allergies, endocrine diseases, and dietary/digestive abnormalities
  • Skin biopsy

When to see your vet:

  • Redness of the skin and/or pimples
  • Hair loss
  • Scaly or flaky skin (dandruff)
  • Oily coat
  • Thickened or rough skin with crusts or scabs
 

GennyB

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Good for you doing your research! All too often it is just assumed it is CDA with a dilute that other health issues get overlooked.
 

Panama

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Have they done a blood draw to do an in house thyroid check. The T4 test only take 10-15 minutes for results. It's not a full thyroid work up, but might be a place to start.
 

staccato84

New Member
Have they done a blood draw to do an in house thyroid check. The T4 test only take 10-15 minutes for results. It's not a full thyroid work up, but might be a place to start.
No they haven’t. My current vet is very early in her career. The first appointment she gave multiple local and general mediations such as anti biotics, a steroid, mite treatment and chlorhexadine shampoo - none of which have worked.

I called the vet today asking for an approximate cost for a thyroid check. The nurse went off and spoke to the vet and the vet said that she thought it might be CDA but is going to do some research and come back to me. I just don’t think my current vet is equipped to deal with this.

The balding area is perfectly symmetrical down her back. It’s oily and greasy and the flakes are so wet with sebum they stick to the skin and don’t come loose when you just ruffle the area. The rest of her coat is immaculate - no flakes, smooth, soft, shiny. It’s completely localised to the spine area.
 

staccato84

New Member
Just thought I’d update.

Thyroid test came back negative for hypothyroidism. Levels were perfect.

So looks like we’re looking at CDA after all. The balding is getting worse. Now she’s got thinning spots on her flanks and tail and the balding down her spine is extending towards her head.

Skin condition is immaculate. Lovely white skin and no pimples or anything. She’s still very flakey though. One final thought is could it be stress/anxiety induced. She’s a very highly strung dog. When I get her out of her crate in the mornings she’s often very wound up, a bit zoomy and shakes a lot which I heard was often a reaction to stress or anxiety.

She’s also still very agitated around other dogs. Although her reactivity has diminished a lot, she’s still just so highly engaged with another dog who might be walking around. Corrections on the prong collar cause her to get very irritated, bouncy and just extremely over excited. She’s not a calm stoic dog at all - she’s very very wired all the time.

We’re now trying some calming supplements and melatonin to help with the hair loss but it’s had absolutely no effect whatsoever.
 

Oh Little Oji

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Just thought I’d update.

Thyroid test came back negative for hypothyroidism. Levels were perfect.

So looks like we’re looking at CDA after all. The balding is getting worse. Now she’s got thinning spots on her flanks and tail and the balding down her spine is extending towards her head.

Skin condition is immaculate. Lovely white skin and no pimples or anything. She’s still very flakey though. One final thought is could it be stress/anxiety induced. She’s a very highly strung dog. When I get her out of her crate in the mornings she’s often very wound up, a bit zoomy and shakes a lot which I heard was often a reaction to stress or anxiety.

She’s also still very agitated around other dogs. Although her reactivity has diminished a lot, she’s still just so highly engaged with another dog who might be walking around. Corrections on the prong collar cause her to get very irritated, bouncy and just extremely over excited. She’s not a calm stoic dog at all - she’s very very wired all the time.

We’re now trying some calming supplements and melatonin to help with the hair loss but it’s had absolutely no effect whatsoever.
Thanks for the update. Sorry the coat is a continuing problem.

The level of high-strung you describe is not uncommon. This breed is not calm, and is not stoic in the way you allude to. The zoomies after crating are not surprising, but the shaking – oh wait, I thought you meant shaking as in what a dog does after coming out of water. Did you mean like shivering? I have not known the shaking (as like they are shaking water off) to be a stress reaction, but I could be wrong.

The reactivity to the presence or sight of other dogs is not uncommon. Mine has it BAD.
 

staccato84

New Member
Hi again

Thought I’d update with photos as I’m still not convinced on CDA. Where her baldness is occurring immediately down her spine she gets excessive flaking. These are a mixture of dry flakes but also oily flakes that seem to stick to the skin. This only appears on her spine - nowhere else.

I’ve included a few photos of her general coat condition, balding, good skin and flaking skin. We’ve tried lots of topical skin lotions including duoxo products. We have chlorhexadine wash from the vet but when we use it her skin turns red raw along the spine.

Any ideas appreciated as even my vet has no idea now.
 

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