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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 31102
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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Hi. Our Staffy cross is losing her hair on both flanks. This

Customer Question

Hi. Our Staffy cross is losing her hair on both flanks. This has happened quite suddenly, probably over the last 3-4 weeks. She is a rescue dog, about 3 years old. We've had her about 10 months. She was spayed last June. What do you think might be the cause?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin
You've described a relatively common skin disorder seen in Staffies and other breeds (Boxers, Bulldogs, Airedales, Schnauzers, e.g.) called one of many things... canine recurrent flank alopecia, seasonal flank alopecia, cyclic flank alopecia, and cyclic follicular dysplasia. The exact cause is unknown but photoperiod control of melatonin and prolactin secretion may be involved. The onset of alopecia in the Northern hemisphere usually occurs between November and March. Most dogs spontaneously regrow their hair 3-8 months later. Episodes of hair loss may occur sporadically only once or twice, or regularly each year. With repeated episodes, a progressive increase in the amount and duration of hair loss may be seen. Affected skin may become hyperpigmented.

Observation without treatment is reasonable because this disease is purely cosmetic and affected dogs are otherwise healthy. Treatment with melatonin may be effective, however. Protocols include melatonin 3-12mg/dog by mouth every 12-24 hours for 3 months and several weeks before the onset of the next occurence because this disorder is recurrent. The prognosis for hair regrowth is variable. Regrowth may be incomplete and new hairs may be duller in color and drier in texture. Melatonin can be found over the counter at your druggist and health food stores.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello Dr Salkin. Thank you for the information. Millie's skin is darker, almost grey, where the hair is thinning. Is this what you mean by hyperpigmented? I've been giving her cod liver oil for about 2 or 3 months, could this be connected? Should I continue to give it to her? In December, after a weekend at the boarding kennels where "playtime" association with the other dogs is usual, she came home with a small bald patch on the right flank which we guessed had been caused in a minor fracas or fight. This patch is still completely bald. The thinning has happened since then. Is this connected? Thank you.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 years ago.
Yes, you're seeing hyperpigmentation. No, cod liver oil shouldn't be incriminated in this skin disease. Essential fatty acids such as are found in cod liver oil might support skin and hair health, however. No, Vivien, I can't incriminate trauma. The seasonality (December) and Millie's appearance are pathognomonic (particularly indicative) of this skin disorder.

The top differentials include a superficial pyoderma (bacterial skin infection), demodicosis (mange mite), dermatophytosis (fungal infection), other endocrinopathies especially hypothyroidism, alopecia areata, and topical steroid reaction - none of which are likely to be found in an otherwise well Millie.

Please continue our conversation if you wish. You're quite welcome.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello again Dr Salkin. Thank you again. So we should do nothing beyond watch - and wait for the hair to regrow? No need to take her to our Vets Surgery? Regards Vivien

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 years ago.
Yes, that's just what I would do...nothing at this time! If you'd like to see what melatonin can do, you can mark your calendar to begin dosing Millie as described above come next November.
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Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it.

You may receive an inappropriate follow up from the site ostensibly from me. It wasn't and I apologize in advance should you receive it.

Please disregard the info request.