My son has an almost four-year-old lab mix. These past few months, her fur seems to be coming off in patches around her body, it scabs and bleeds at times. She seems to be losing weight as well. We don’t know what’s causing this. We want to take her to the vet, but the costs are so high, so we bathe her and put coconut oil on her in hopes that it cures her. So far, no changes, but more patches. Any idea what may have caused this?
– Mellisa T., Arizona
Hair loss can be symptomatic of many things, like parasites, fungal infections, diseases, or allergies. Your dog could have Demodex or Sarcoptic mange, which causes hair loss, or ringworm, which can be contagious. It’s not good she also is losing weight.
I know it’s stressful to go the vet when money is an issue, but for the cost of an office visit, she will receive an exam and your son can talk to the vet about what could be wrong. At a minimum, the vet may shine a black light on her skin to see if she has ringworm or do a skin scraping to see if it’s ringworm or mange. The vet may even recognize the problem without a lot of tests and be able to prescribe medication or a topical ointment for her.
If the vet doesn’t recognize the illness and needs blood work or diagnostic tests to determine what’s wrong, he or she can at least let you know what might be wrong, so you can plan accordingly. Your vet may also be able to offer some alternative treatments if diagnostic tests cannot be done at the time.
Let me know what you find out.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal