I'm Dr. Jo and I'm here to answer your question about Bess' ears.
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While I wait for you to return online, I'll type in some information about the things that commonly cause ear margins to turn black and lose hair, especially in an older dog.
The most common cause is ear margin necrosis. The edges of the ear simply lose circulation over the ears. The skin turns darker and the hair falls out. The edges of the skin can even break off and fall away (without bleeding), leaving sort of a rough, raggedy edge.
This is very, very common. It usually isn't harmful at all, but a drug called pentoxifylline can help.
The second most common cause would be a skin infection. This could be fungal (yeast) or bacterial in origin. Your vet will need to look at a sample from the dark, hairless skin under the microscope to determine if this is the problem. They would also do a fungal culture, where they "plant" a sample of the skin flakes and maybe some hair from the edge of the area on a special medium that grows the types of fungal organisms that cause the disease commonly called ringworm.
The third most common reason would be a hormone problem. Hypothyroidism is very common in dogs as they age, and it's one example of a type of hormone problem that can be associated with darkening of the skin and hair loss.
It is most likely that Bess has one of those three problems.
Oh! I forgot to add that blood tests are necessary to determine if there is a hormone problem.
So, please do rest assured that this is not an unusual problem for a dog like Bess.
I'm sorry she has you worried, but am glad you're looking for the information you need.
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