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Dogs/Shih-tuz 6yr old female


My 6yr old female shih-tuz sheds,I have two 9yr old same breed and have no problem, she sheds really bad,and of course more the longer her hair is,it has become a real problem, not shedding being one reason I chose this breed.Any ideas as to why this could be,she is full shih-tuz im sure. Thank's soo much! Barb

Hi Barb,

Thank you for writing to me about your dog's hair loss.  There are several reasons that could be causing this from alleries, to mange, to vaccinosis, to mites.  The most likely culprit here is a thyroid problem.  You will have to ask your vet to do some blood work to determine if this is the case.  Be sure that if the thyroid reading is not exactly in the middle that you do not accept a low normal or high should be dead center for optimum health.

Please read my detailed explanation of each area.  Ultimately, you must bring your dog to a vet.  This is the only way to know for sure.  

Thank you for writing to me about your itchy dog.  Below are a variety of possibilities as to what is causing your dog to scratch.  Please read them carefully to determine which are the most possible for your situation.  You can also discuss them with your vet.

The first thing I would like to address is vaccinations!  Many vets have been over vaccinating which can cause allergies and auto immune disease. It seems that these symptoms started just after your dog was vaccinated.   Even if the vaccinations didn't directly cause this problem, I would refrain from vaccinating except for a three year rabies shot.   You can also get a homeopathic remedy called Thuja and administer that to your dog to see if it will help.  If it's that vaccinations then your dog has a condition known as vaccinosis and needs to receive a homeopathic remedy when getting the 3 year rabies booster.

From your description, I would like to address the possibility that your precious dog may be suffering from allergies.   It is possible that the food he is eating could be causing his hot spots but you would also want to explore all the cleaning agents you use, the lawn care products, new carpets, etc.   I personally only use Dr. Bronners and vinegar to clean with.

Addressing the possibility of food allergies:

Food May Be the Cause of Your Dog's Skin Problems.

Food allergies or sensitivities are usually the last suspect in detecting the cause of a dog's skin problems. Most dogs are fed the same type of dog food for years, so the food is rarely suspected. Dogs, like humans, can develop a sensitivity to any food or additive at any time.

It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of all allergic skin diseases in
dogs and cats is caused by food allergy.

Dog food is made up of a combination of ingredients. The most common
ingredients that can cause problems in a dog include:



Itchy skin is the primary symptom a dog suffers from food sensitivities.

Other symptoms may include:

anal itching
ear inflammations
hair loss
licking front paws
loss of appetite
face rubbing
head shaking
hot spots

These following symptoms may manifest but are rare:

asthma like symptoms
behavioral changes

Steps of Prevention

Be sure to eliminate all the foods in your dog's diet that match the list above, and feed your dog a commericial or homemade diet consisting of ingredients he has never eaten before.

The homemade diet should consist of two parts starch and one part protein. Although duck, salmon, soy, venison, and rabbit are suggested for the protein; and rice and potatoes for the starch; soy and rice are not always safe substitutes.

It is generally recommended to start with duck and potato
based foods in the beginning.

You may be able to select a special commercial dog food blend that suits your dog's needs.

Whatever diet you choose for your dog, it should be the only food he
ingests during the elimination period. This means no table scraps, dog biscuits, dog bones, rawhide chews,
vitamins, minerals or chewable heartworm pills.This elimination diet is only temporary and once you find out what your dog is allergic to you can start to add other ingredients to make a complete meal for your dog.

If symptoms begin to improve during the elimination period, you can then reintroduce each of the eliminated food items one at a time. Each food should be tested for a week before another is introduced. This will allow you to pinpoint which foods may be causing problems if symptoms resurface.
Once the offensive food is discovered, then reading dog food labels should help you pinpoint a food that meets the needs of your dog. Although there are many hypoallergenic dog foods on the market, be sure to read the labels carefully.  Foods like Solid Gold Fish and Potato might work wonders for your dog.  You can also try Spot's Stew, Avoderm, Venison,Primal, Call of the Wild, Bravo, Paul Newman, Blue Buffalo, Nature's Logic, Primal Raw etc. The less grains the better.   A helpful book is Natural Health for Dogs and Cats by Dr. Pitcairn.

There is a site on dog health which includes great information about
allergies and the best way to feed your dog.  I urge you to spend some
time studying the information that this wonderful site has to offer.

Hairloss (hot spots) that occurs on the top of the dog and forms a
triangle of hairloss, with the widest part of the triangle at the base of the tail and the point somewhere between the base of the tail and the shoulder blades, is usually due to flea bite or mosquito bite

There are some conditions that can resemble flea allergy, including
hypersensitivity to anal sac secretions, food allergy and sometimes
inhalant allergies. Almost all allergic conditions respond to treatment.

There are also times when the hair loss occurs due to hormonal disease. These disorders are more common in older dogs, usually six years of age or older. Hypothyroidism is the most common hormonal disorder leading to skin problems so it made sense to check for that first. Be sure to have a thyroid test done as soon as possible.

The next most common problem is hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing's disease, HAC). This is a disorder in which high natural cortisol levels are causing hair loss and skin irritation.

If your vet is unable to resolve the problem after several visits, it
might be a good idea to ask for referral to a veterinary dermatologist. Most of the time, if you work with your vet and you both are patient, skin problems can be resolved.

Hair loss - Cushing's disease.
This condition is not very common. It is possible to diagnose
hypothyroidism more accurately at this time than it was possible in the past few years. The free T4 level measured by equilibrium dialysis, especially when combined with a TSH level test, is pretty accurate at determining if hypothyroidism is present. It is possible that your dog does have this problem. Cushing's disease can occur without many of the normal symptoms. Testing for Cushing's disease (hyperadrenocorticism) is usually done by low dose
dexamethasone response testing, in which a blood test for cortisol is
drawn around 8 AM and then an injection of dexamethasone is given.
Cortisol samples are taken again at 6 hrs and 8 hrs after the injection. If a dog has Cushing's disease the cortisol levels are not suppressed by the injection. There are other tests for this condition.

It is possible that allergies or an infectious agent such as ringworm
could cause hairloss in a small spot, but I would expect it to spread from that point -- especially with allergies. A contact allergy might result in a spot similar to the one you describe.

Some dogs develop areas of hairloss over vaccination sites. I have seen this problem and the skin appeared irritated and thickened at the site in addition to the hairloss. I think that a skin biopsy could be very informative if the problem persists. You might want to discuss this option with your vet.

Almost all other causes of hair loss in dogs should be considered, so it is important to eliminate mites, anal sac irritation, flea allergy, flea infestation, etc. I'm sure your vet has probably been eliminating those problems as in examining her. If you wish to have a second opinion from a specialist, there are veterinary dermatologists and your vet can probably arrange to refer you to one.

Bilaterally symetric hairloss : Bilaterally symmetric hairloss without
itching is indicative of hormonal disease, such as hypothyroidism or
Cushing's disease. When itching is present it is necessary to consider the hormonal diseases and other conditions that can cause hairloss such as allergies and flea infestation.

The ITCHY SKIN DISEASES are characterized by constant scratching, biting at the skin and rubbing up against objects to relieve the itch.

The next diseases are characterized by HORMONE-RELATED AND OTHER DISESES WITH HAIR LOSS with few if any other symptoms. Hair loss can mean impaired growth of new hair, in which case it usually involves specific areas or the entire coat. Or you may see patches of hair loss on various parts of the body. In general, hair loss caused by hormonal diseases is symmetric(the same on both sides of the body), while that caused by parasites and other causes is asymmetric.

Blebs, also called vesicles, are blisters that contain clear fluid. Large ones are called bullae. All tend to progress through rubbing, biting and scratching, eventually producing skin erosions, ulcers and crusts. Look for these changes to appear first on the face, nose, muzzle and ears.During the course of grooming, playing with or handling your dog, you may discover a lump or bump on or beneath the skin.

LUMPS AND BUMP OR BENEATH THE SKIN.NZYMESŪ powerful formulas have proven their helpfulness in Vet studies, with nutrition conscious veterinarians and pet owners who have used this powerful formula for years to help strengthen the immune system, reduce pain, restore mobility and increase vitality in animals of all ages.

Allergic contact dermatitis: Same as contact dermatitis, but rash may
spread beyond area of contact. Requires repeated or continuous exposure to allergen (such as wearing a flea collar).

Canine atopy: Severe itching that occurs in young dogs and begins in late summer and fall. Caused by seasonal pollens. Occurs in mixed breeds as well as purebreds.Common.

Chiggers: Itching and severe skin irritation between toes, and around the ears and mouth. Look for barely visible red, yellow or orange chiggers.

Contact dermatitis: Red, itchy bumps and inflamed skin at the site of
contact with chemical, detergent, paint or other irritant. Affects feet and hairless parts of the body.

Damp hay itch (Pelodera): Red pimplelike bumps on skin. Severe itching. Occurs in dogs bedded on damp hay and similar grass.

Flea allergy dermatitis: Red, itchy pimplelike bumps over the base of the tail, back of rear legs and inner thighs. Scratching continues after fleas have been killed.

Fleas: Itching and scratching along the back, around the tail and
hindquarters. Look for fleas, or black and white gritty specks in hair
(flea feces and eggs).

Fly-bite dermatitis: Painful bites at tips of erect ears and bent surfaces of floppy ears. Bites become scabbed, crusty-black and bleed easily.

Grubs: Inch-long fly larvae that form cystlike lumps beneath the skin with a hole in the center for the insect to breathe. Often found beneath chin or along abdomen. Lice: Two-millimeter-long insects, or white grains of "sand" (nits) attached to hair. Not common. Found in dogs with matted coats. May have bare spots where hair has been rubbed off.

Lick granuloma (acral pruritic dermatitis): Red, shiny skin ulcer caused by continuous licking at wrist or ankle. Usually seen occuring in large, short-coated breeds.(See Intructions for Yeast Problems)


Cortisone excess: Symmetric hair loss over trunk and body. Abdomen is
pot-bellied and pendulous. Seen with Cushing's syndrome. In some cases the dog is taking steroids.

Hypothyroidism: Most common cause of bilaterally symmetric hair loss
without itching. Coat is thin, scanty and falls out easily. Involves the neck beneath the chin to the brisket, sides of body, backs of thighs and top of tail.


Nasal solar dermatitis (Collie nose): Loss of hair at junction of nose and muzzle.

Ringworm: A fungal infection. Scaly, crusty circular patches 1/2 to 2
inches across. Patches show central hair loss with a red ring at the
periphery. Some cases show widespread involvement.


Ringworm is a skin disease caused by a fungus (plural: fungi). Because the lesions are often circular, it was once thought to be caused by a worm curling up in the tissue. However, there is no truth to that; it has nothing to do with a worm.

There are four fungal species affecting dogs which can cause the disease that we call ringworm. These may also affect humans. The fungi live in hair follicles and cause the hair shafts to break off at the skin line. This usually results in round patches of hair loss. As the fungus multiplies, the lesions may become irregularly shaped and spread over the dog's body.

The incubation period is 10-12 days. This means that following exposure to the fungus, about 10-12 days will pass before any lesions occur.

A. Diagnosis is made in one of three ways:

B. Identification of the typical "ringworm" lesions on the skin

C. Fluorescence of infected hairs under a special light (however, only two or the four species of fungi fluoresce)

D. Culture of the hair for the fungus. The last method is the most
accurate, but it may take up to 2-3 weeks for the culture to become

Transmission occurs by direct contact between infected and non-infected individuals. It may be passed from dogs to cats and visa versa. It may also be passed from dogs or cats to people and visa versa. If your child
has ringworm, he or she may have acquired it from your pet or from another child at school. Adult humans usually are resistant to infection unless there is a break in the skin (a scratch, etc.), but children are quite susceptible. If you or your family members have suspicious skin lesions, check with your family physician.

Transmission may also occur from the infected environment. The fungal
spores may live in bedding or carpet for several months. They may be
killed with a dilution of chlorine bleach and water (1 pint of chlorine bleach in a gallon of water) (500 ml in 4 liters) where it is feasible to use it.

There are several means of treatment. The specific method(s) chosen for your dog will depend on the severity of the infection, how many pets are involved, if there are children in the household, and how difficult it will be to disinfect your pets' environment. The one's that are appropriate for your situation are marked.
___1. Griseofulvin. This is a tablet that is concentrated deep in the hair follicles where it can reach the site of active fungal growth.
Griseofulvin should be given daily. Dogs with active lesions should
receive the tablets for a minimum of 30 days. At that time, your dog
should be rechecked to be sure the infection is adequately treated.

These tablets are not absorbed from the stomach unless there is fat in the stomach at the time they are given.This can be accomplished by feeding a high fat diet, such as a rich canned dog food or a small amount of fat trimmings from meats (often available at the meat departments of local grocery stores upon request of the butcher) or by allowing the dog to drink some rich cream. This is the most important part of the treatment. If you are not successful in giving the tablets, please call us for help.

If you are aware of fat consumption having caused a problem for your dog in the past or if your dog has had an episode of pancreatitis, bring this to our attention immediately.

___2. Topical antifungal medication. Apply one of these products to the affected areas once daily for 10 days. Do not risk getting it in your dog's eyes by treating lesions very near the eye.

___3. Baths using an antifungal shampoo. A bath should be given 3 times on an every other day schedule. Bathe exposed but unaffected pets once. These baths are important in getting the spores off the hairs so they do not drop into the environment and result in re-exposure. A lather should be formed and left on for five minutes before rinsing.

___4. Lime Sulfur Dip. This should be done twice weekly for the first two weeks then once weekly for 4-6 weeks. Lime sulfur dip should also be applied to other pets (dogs or cats) in the household to prevent them from being affected. If they develop ringworm lesions, they should begin on griseofulvin. You should gloves when applying the dip. This is an effective form of treatment, but the dip has an objectionable odor and can tarnish jewelry.

___5. Shaving of the dog's hair. This will remove the infected hair. We recommend this only when the infection is extensive.

Treatment will not produce immediate results. The areas of hair loss will get larger before they begin to get smaller. Within 1-2 weeks, the hair loss should stop, there should be no new areas of hair loss, and the crusty appearance of the skin should subside and the skin look more normal. If any of these do not occur within two weeks, your dog should be checked again.

Infected pets remain contagious for about three weeks if aggressive
treatment is used. Contagion will last longer if only minimal measures are taken of if you are not faithful with the prescribed approach. Minimizing exposure to other dogs or cats and to your family members is recommended during this period.

When treatment is completed, ringworm should be cured. Although a carrier state can exist, this usually occurs because treatment is not long enough or aggressive enough or because there is some underlying disease compromising the immune system.

I have given you a comprehensive list of skin ailements with causes and some treatments for your "canine library!" Some of the information can be applied to your dog's current symptoms and some you may need to refer to in the future.

My best suggestion is to work with your vet, as hair loss in several
places can indicate a more serious problem. The first thing I would do is check for thyroid disease and food allergies. You vet will hopefully have some idea about what is causing the problem and if he doesn't then he should refer you to a specilist.

Treatment of Hot Spots:

-Trim the hair around the sore to prevent further spread of the infection and expose the edges of the lesion;
-Wash the area in a mild water-based astringent or antiseptic;
-Be prepared to use antibiotics if the washing does not give results. Some vets recommend against the use of ointments or creams because they can seal in the infection and hinder recovery. In severe cases, a veterinarian may suggest the use of an Elizabethan collar to prevent mutilation and give the spot a chance to heal.

If the underlying cause is allergies, begin an aggressive campaign to rid your home and yard of fleas and work with your veterinarian on a plan to reduce allergy triggers for your pet. Household dust, plant pollen, lawn chemicals, and diet can all cause allergies or can build to a crescendo of allergies if the dog's sensitivities cross a threshhold. Frequent vacuuming, supplements to keep the skin and coat healthy, air purifiers, and baths in skin-soothing herbal or medicated shampoos with aloe, oatmeal, jojoba, or eucalyptus can help.

I would be very suspicious about the new carpeting.  These carpets usually contain formaldehyde and other contaminents and these can be deadly for a pet that walks on it and is so close to the floor.

I hoped that this has offered some helpful information in your quest to determine what is wrong.  If your regular vet can't solve the problem then ask for a referral to a canine dermatologist.

Best Regards,
Shelley Davis

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Shelley Davis


Cageless Country Boarding, Holistic Health Concerns, Behavorial Concerns.


Crusader in the founding of Dog Runs in NYC Parks, instrumental in changing the law in NY State which allows Pet Facilitate Therapy into Acute Care Hospitals, accomplished artist and craftsperson, certified by Red Cross in pet first aid, pioneer in Children Reading To Dogs program in Ulster Co. NY, founder of Bed & Biscuit:Where Dogs Run Free,

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