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Hello,

I'm trying to rehabilitate a border collie that the owners had apparently given up on. He has significant hair loss redness on his belly dry skin and a bad smell (like cheese or bad Doritos). He is constantly shedding gobs of hair and dry skin is falling off his body. I really would love to see this dog healthy and happy but I'm not sure what is going to be achievable. One of the bald patches looks dark, dry and new hair does not seem to be growing. Other patches have some thin hair with reddish skin below.

Two vets have seen him and came quickly to two different conclusions.

The first vet first said it was a flea allergy and a secondary infection so he got a cortisone shot good flea med's and medicated shampoo. This worked great initially. Keeping the fleas off him the issue still came back in six months. The next and subsequent visits to this vet I was told his diet is not right and got another cortisone shot and eliminated all treats. This time within a month he was back to chewing on his skin. Despite strict diet and no treats he continued to get worse.

So I decided to change vets.

The second vet quickly decided that it was a thyroid problem and tested him. He showed me the results proving his thyroid and cholesterol were both very low. For one month we have had him on thyroid medication but we have still seen no improvement. This vet also said it was not his diet and said it was fine to give him treats and regular food we use Beneful.

What else I'm doing now:

I'm shampooing him with mal-a-ket as per instructions
he is getting Levothyroxine .4mg from the vet
he has an appointment to reevaluate his dosage tomorrow.
he is lethargic but I'm going to start getting him some daily frisby training

What I'd like to know:

Does anyone have any experience with a border collie in this condition and some advice for me to checkout.

Do I have reason to be cautiously optimistic about him regrowing his hair, curing the smell and eliminating the redness?
 

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Cheese or bad doritos would most likely indicate yeast infection... Did the vets not test for yeast?

Our pup is hypothyroid, we noticed positive changes within 24 hours of giving synthroid. Is the dog showing any signs of hyperthyroidism? Any panting, extra anxiety etc?
 

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I'm not really sure what to say about the skin issues, however the food, Beneful, is actually a very low quality food. It's kind of the McDonalds of pet food. Vets typically don't know much about nutrition and what's good vs bad, so it doesn't surprise me that he didn't say anything about it. The first ingredient in Beneful is Ground Yellow Corn. :eek: The first ingredient should always be a meat, because it's mostly the food consists of. :)

Someone else may be able to recommend a food for the specific health issues, however switching to brands like Wellness, Taste of the Wild, Orijen, or the Honest Kitchen will help your dog health wise in general. May help him feel less lethargic and have better nutrition for battling the skin issues.

My dog had some minor flea allergies and itchy skin. I put her on an Omega-3 supplements, which helped her a lot. You can get a bottle of liquid supplements you just pour in their food. My dog loves it. :)
 

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Def continue working with a vet to resolve the problem. If not seeing results then you may want to ask if there are any specialists within driving distance your vet could refer you to.

To me (not a vet and not giving a diagnosis) it does sound allergy related with a secondary yeast infection. I would talk further about the possibility with your vets.

If this were my dog, in addition to the thyroid meds and other recommendations given by your vet, I would switch to a grain free, limited ingredient food with a protein source not found in Beneful. No treats either for a bit. If you need treats then go with a real meat (kind in the new food, not types in beneful) or grain free treats that do not have ingredients in common with beneful. I would also likely be giving probiotics in some form daily. May or may not resolve the problem, but also won't hurt to try a limited ingredient diet to find out of it is food related allergies.
 

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There are vets that specialize in allergy/dermatogy. If you were interested in perusing one you could ask your vet for a referral or ring up larger vet hospitals as they often have them on staff.

Has anyone taken a skin scraping to identify or confirm the secondary infection? Yeasts and fungi are notorious for hanging around in the environment and causing reinfections.
 

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No way to diagnose this without an exam and seeing how your pet responds to meds, but do have some comments and questions:

1) First of all, Mal-a-Ket sounds like a good shampoo for yeast (if the Ket stands for Ketaconazole, which I am pretty sure it does)... so if it were something as simple as a yeast infection, that would be taking care of it. Yeast, however, is nearly always secondary, not primary, so treating the yeast will often not have a very long lasting effect... one has to get rid of the main problem (allergy usually). By the way, yeast is not obtained from the environment... it exists in small amounts on pretty much all dogs but does not cause a problem until the environment is right (itchy, red, inflamed skin, or moist areas (such as ears and/or feet).

2) 0.4mg is reasonable dose for a levothyroxine for a 40b dog (about the size of a slightly larger than average Border Collie). However, rarely does thyroid disease cause an itchy skin disease. Be sure they have diagnosed 'true' thyroid disease (the 'free T4 by ED' is low... not just a 'regular T4').

3) Cortisone often does not work all that well with dietary allergy skin problems, so if your pet improved substantially with a cortisone injection, chances are it is NOT food related

4) most flea allergy dermatitis dogs have their dermatitis primarily on their rumps... to have an abdominal dermatitis without a rump one would be odd, and make the diagnosis of flea allergy dermatitis suspect. Was your dog covered with fleas at the time of the first visit? I am not saying do not treat for fleas, as they can complicate any allergic dermatitis, but they, like yeast, may only be a complicating factor.

5) not sure what the withholding of treats was supposed to do. I do not necessarily recommend the giving of treats to dogs unless they are a training tool, but I don't see how their use would make a skin problem worse (unless your pet WAS, for sure, diagnosed wth a skin allergy and the treats were made of the ingredient your pet was proven to be allergic to... then, duh). Otherwise, seriously doubt withholding treats is likely to have any positive effects upon your dog's skin... perhaps his weight, if he's overweight (not seen too many overweight border collies, though).

6) might ask your vet(s) about maybe using something like Atopica or Apoquel, both drugs which have had a pretty good track record about controlling allergic dermatitis with less side effects than cortisone... or if that is not a huge concern, maybe a longer course of a low level cortisone drug, such as Temaril P? And add the usual allergic dermatitis things such as Omega 3 fatty acids (as someone already suggested), antihistamines (sometimes help... at least pretty safe long term) or topical products for itching and/or infected skin such as mousses, conditioners and/ or sprays to go along with the shampooing (which could be drying his skin out some).
 

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I want to add that systemic yeast infection isn't cured with just antibiotics and cortisone, that you should have a culture done to determine what kind of yeast you are dealing with. Allergies can be to either grains (corn is #1) or proteins(chicken or beef top the list) if they are food based. Sometimes doing a yeast free diet (low carbohydrate) can help ...... get all sugars out of his diet! Also a 'limited ingredient' type food is helpful and there are many to chose from
on the market............ 'grain free limited ingredient'
Also see "Yeast Infection in Dogs" by Dr. Karen Becker on YouTube
 

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However, rarely does thyroid disease cause an itchy skin disease. Be sure they have diagnosed 'true' thyroid disease (the 'free T4 by ED' is low... not just a 'regular T4').
Skin issues are more common in hypothyroidism than many think - it took 3 years and multiple vets to finally do a trial of Synthroid when his T4 was borderline. The dog was tearing himself apart.

Not every med is created equal either. On the Synthroid brand for a month and a half, he responded amazingly, coat grew back, itching/chewing stopped. New prescription was "thyro-tab" generic, that put him back to square one. Back on Synthroid, he's doing wonderful. Don't ask me why.
 
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