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Shar-Peis/Significant hair loss on inside back leg


Hello Judi,

Thank you for taking the time to address my question.  My husband and I have owned Shar Pei for many years (5 dogs in all). Sadly, though we have lived in 3 different states and have gone to various Vets in all 3, we have had poor luck finding anyone truly knowledgeable about this breed and their particular issues.  

Four of our dogs, including our current one, Chyna Jane, have been rescues.  She is 2 1/2 years old, and from all we could learn was not abused, but was crated and left alone a lot (we don't crate, and at least one of us is with her most of the time). We have all her paperwork, she is purebred.  Her coat was gorgeous when she came to us.  Unfortunately, she now has almost total hair loss on the inside of her right back leg, and is just recovering from a bald spot on her tail (more later).

She was sent with a bag of Pedigree dry dog food, which I assume was her regular diet.  This brand is mainly just animal by-products and cheap grains, so I upgraded her to Purina One, whose first 2 ingredients are lamb (not by-products) and rice.  I also add cooked sweet potato and a little canned salmon to her dinner---which she loves.  My point here is that I do not think this is a food allergy, since she was eating a very cheap, gluten-filled food when we got her and her coat was fine at that point.  Now her diet is much better---less gluten and higher quality ingredients--but she has developed dramatic (though localized) hair loss.

Because she was not spayed when we got her, and had serious entropion which had not been addressed, we were forced to subject her to these two operations only 10 days after she came to us.  I'm sure it was very stressful and frightening for her, but it couldn't be helped.

Soon after the surgeries she began losing hair on the back right leg (inside portion), and also at the mid-point (not the base) of her tail.  We would see her bite furiously at the tail as if it itched, but she seemed oblivious to the leg issue.  I took her to the Vet and he scraped for mites (to the point of drawing blood), but said the test was negative.  Also, he felt this would be an odd spot for mite infestation, as all fur on the front part of her body is fine.  Basically, he just chalked it up to the stress of re-homing and surgery, leaving us to figure this out ourselves.

We have now had Chyna Jane for over 3 months.  She is loving and seems very happy.  But the hair loss on the leg has actually gotten worse, not better.  

I read a lot of Shar Pei forums online, and many people recommended Goodwinol Ointment for Dermodex mites (which I am assuming this is, despite the negative scraping.  I hear there are very often false negatives with this type of test).  I ordered a jar and began using it once daily, as directed.

At first I applied it only to the tail spot to test results and reaction, and the itchiness seemed to disappear almost immediately.  Slowly, the hair is coming back in this area. This
was encouraging, so I am now applying it nightly to the back leg as well.  I have only done this for the past 2 days, so I'm not yet sure whether or not it will help this spot---which is extensive and has very leathery looking, dark skin.  Probably what they refer to as "elephant skin".

My question is whether or not you are familiar with Goodwinol Ointment, and if you feel it is a good choice for treatment.  Obviously I'm not going to get much help from the Vet. I'm reasonably sure his next suggestion would be Ivermectin, and I am wary of strong insecticides except as a last resort.

Goodinol Ointment does contain Rotenone (which I know is an insecticide), but it is listed as the 7th ingredient, so it is not an aggressively strong amount.  Other ingredients are things like Benzocaine, lanolin, and white petrolatum---soothing things, in other words.

Should I continue the Goodwinol?  Are there other things you could recommend?  Is this a fairly normal reaction to the trauma of re-homing and surgery?  Just as an FYI, we have a large backyard with a fair amount of ground cover, bushes, etc., and Chyna Jane seems to want to be outside as much as possible.  So she may be encountering something out there that is an issue, but we have no way of knowing what it might be.  

I have seen no evidence of fleas.  She likes getting a bath, so if there is a special shampoo you could recommend to add to her treatment, that would be great.  Right now we are using a Shea Butter & Oatmeal shampoo made specifically for dogs with sensitive skin.

With the exception of our last dog, who lived to be 11 years old and never experienced mange, we have had hair loss issues on the legs (and only the legs) of all of our dogs.  No Vet could ever explain why or seemed at all concerned, but since most of the dogs were considerably older when this issue began, we just chalked it up to the aging process.  Obviously, with a dog just over 2 years old, this isn't a factor.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions you can offer.  We love this little girl very much, and want to help her if we can.


Terry, thank you for sticking with this girl even tho she seems to have issues that could have chased some people away from keeping her.  Firstly, I don't think this is demodectic mange, but could be allergies (to shampoo, carpet sprays, etc.  My guess would be more in the neighborhood of low thyroid.  Hypo-thyroidism.  Many times in shar-pei, they can have low thyroid and many vets don't think of that, altho a good shar-pei friendly vet would think of that right away.  It's common in the breed.  I'd have a thyroid test done on her, and "insist" that the vet send the results to Dr. Jean Dodds in California.  She is the #1 vet for reading thyroid results.  Make sure he does a complete FIVE panel test.  Some vets only do 4.  The T-3 and T-4 tests are important.  Also, many vets don't realize that if in a shar-pei, they have a "low/normal" range, it means that they DO need to be on meds.  Other breeds could come up low/normal and not need meds, but in shar-pei, even a low/normal reading is indicative of the needs for thyroid supplements.  Thyroid meds are inexpensive, and you can get a scrip from the vet and take it to your local pharmacy.  Same meds as they use for humans.  IF it's "NOT" thyroid problems, then it could be an allergy to something in her environment.  Even grass.  What state do you live in?  I may be able to find a "Shar-Pei Friendly" vet for you in your state.  I'm in Michigan, and am very lucky to have a wonderful, shar-pei specialist as my vet.  But so many vets just are not "up" on shar-pei issues.

Also, (and this is going to sound crazy, but "trust" me), a bleach bath will work WONDERS in stopping the itching.  When dogs itch, they scratch.  When they scratch, they get bacteria from their feet and toenails in the skin, which in turn, causes more itching and scratching. It's like a vicious cycle.  In fact, I suffer from psoriasis and eczema and my dermatologist told me to do a bleach bath, and she was surprised when I told her I already was, as we used it with our dogs, LOL.  You put about 4 inches of water in the bathtub, and pour 3 cups of bleach in the water and mix well. Soak the dog in this for 10 or more minutes, rubbing it into the skin all over, but mainly in the areas that she's itching.  Do NOT rinse this off.  Just towel dry.  Repeat this in 10 days.  Usually, you will see relief within hours of the dipping, and definitley by the next day.  This kills all the bacteria on the skin, which stops the itching.

Also, I'd recommend another food Purina dog foods really are NOT the best quality.  People think it is, but it isn't.  BLUE (they have one especially for dogs with skin issues) is a much better food.  Many people don't mind feeding a RAW diet, and that is the BEST diet for her. You can either buy the foods at your grocery store, or order it frozen online.  That is the best, as it is specifically formulated to make sure they get the proper amounts of muscle meat, organ meat, and bone. You could "Google".....BARF Diet, the Prey Role Model.  This will explain exactly how to do it, and where you can buy the prepared frozen food.  It's a natural diet for dogs, without any added crapola for preservation, etc.

If you don't feel comfortable with feeding her this, then I'd go with Blue.  There is Blue Buffalo, Blue (several other types).  It's a great food and properly balanced.  You can buy it in most Dog Food stores such as Chow Hound, Pet Supplies Plus, Petco, etc.  Petco is more expensive with everything tho, so if you can find it elsewhere, that's best.  Any foods you can buy in a grocery store, or Walmart, are CRAP foods.  The better foods are ONLY sold at Dog Food stores.  Do NOT Feed Science Diet.  This is another over-rated, cheaply made food.  Vets get kickbacks from the company for referring you to it. Grrrrrr!

First thing I'd do, is give her the bleach bath, as that is going to give her the most relief and quickly.  Then get her in for a full panel thyroid test and have the vet send the results to Dr. Dodds.  (You can google Dr. Jean Dodds...thryoid testing) and it will give you lots of info.  

With the thyroid testing and switching to a better quality of food, you will be attacking both "likely" causes of her issues.

My private email is and you can email me there anytime.  I'm only online in the evening on weekdays, anytime weekends.  If you run into a serious snag, you can phone me on my cell phone at 616-788-1508.

Good luck, and please keep me updated on how things are going :)


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Judi Todd


Health, show potential, breeding, about anything to do with shar-pei, I can answer.


20 years experience showing and breeding shar-pei, and 40 years experience in other breeds. Worked as a vet technician also.

Veterinary technician, dog groomer, trainer, exhibitor

Awards and Honors
Produced a shar-pei that became #3 in the country, beginning of 2003.

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