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Hi all! I have a 4 year old golden retriever mix. Not sure what he is mixed with but he definitely looks and acts like a golden. I got him from the SPCA a little over a year ago. He's always had skin problems (irritation, infection, dryness, etc.) but with good care, we've kept it at bay.

Recently, he's had some symmetrical hair loss on either side of his hips. They're patches about the size of a fist, but slowly spreading larger. The patches are not bare but there is very obvious hair loss, and then there are scabs on the patch of skin. The scabs have darkened outer skin with a very light inner, unlike a normal scab. They are fairly raised. The only other symptom he is having is weight loss; he looks like he may have lost between 5 and 10 pounds (he is usually about 70 pounds). Otherwise he is acting totally normally and definitely not as if he is in pain, although he is not a dog to really "tell" us when he's in pain. Definitely not lethargic. He has been needing to go out more often, however he sometimes only acts like that to get attention. The water bowl has also been needing to be refilled more often but that could also be because the cats have started drinking from it.

The only change in environment worth noting is his recent obsession with eating the cat's wet food. He's stopped now since he knows he's not allowed to, but there were a couple of weeks when it was an issue. He is current on the same flea and heartworm medication as he has been since I got him. Same food as always. Maybe another thing worth noting is that he may be a bit stressed or anxious (he is very much prone to anxiety) due to a new baby in the household.

I know he needs to go to the vet, and I figure that to get any kind of tests or medication, we will. BUT I feel that every time we go to the vet, it's the same experience: go in for an exam, come out having spent $300 and still without having solved the problem. This has always been the case with his skin problems. So, I want to go into the vet with a clear idea of what we want and need and exactly what we're willing to spend money on. We're in a horrible situation currently financially and our priority is getting ourselves and our newborn out of an abusive household, so I refuse to get taken advantage of by the vet yet again.

So dog owners! Please enlighten me. Has anyone else experienced this??? Thanks in advance!
 

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There can be so many reasons for hair loss, from skin issues, to something potentially serious going on systemically. If you are not getting reasonable answers from your Vet, maybe another Vet is in order. In any event, we can only guess long distance as to what the problem might be. You need to find a Vet that will run tests and figure out what is going on, and how to best deal with it.
 

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what food is he eating? could be that or something else we cant diagnose and arent allowed to over the forum/internet. Best bet is to go to a different vet or try changing food to a high quality brand that has no cereals , by products etc in it. (no idea what food he on) and a protien he hasnt had before
 

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We've seen 3 different vets. It's always the same thing. We just do not have the money for an exam, tests, shots, and medicine - especially if it might not even solve the issue. I was simply hoping to get an idea of which procedures I should refuse and which I should allow. It is not his food since as I said he's been on the same food for about a year with no problem.
 

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We've seen 3 different vets. It's always the same thing. We just do not have the money for an exam, tests, shots, and medicine - especially if it might not even solve the issue. I was simply hoping to get an idea of which procedures I should refuse and which I should allow. It is not his food since as I said he's been on the same food for about a year with no problem.
Sometimes dogs build up an allergy or intolerance to their food they have been on for ages so its a possibility im afraid and its the cheapest way to see if it is that or not by changing food for 8 weeks and feed nothing but that food.

there is a allergy pill but it isnt cheap @Rain has it for her dog zody just cant remember the name of it. If you had the money dermatology consult and skin allergy testing would be what id recommend.

otherwise there is changing your detergents, washing things on hot wash, an all natural shampoo or even a therauptic shampoo from vet to try before the allergy pill. those are the cheaper options.
 
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Also please note ive had hair loss with my small dog in my avatar Jessie before and this is very true it was the food she was on causing it not the protien but something in the food i was feeding her! her chest hair was so thin and there were patches of hair missing that i never saw come off. took her off it and onto another food and it grew back. I have been through alot allergywise as have others on here . we are only trying to help but please try things that we suggest even if its the food he been on for a year just to see over the course of 8 weeks if the hair grows back etc.
 

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Also please note ive had hair loss with my small dog in my avatar Jessie before and this is very true it was the food she was on causing it not the protien but something in the food i was feeding her! her chest hair was so thin and there were patches of hair missing that i never saw come off. took her off it and onto another food and it grew back. I have been through alot allergywise as have others on here . we are only trying to help but please try things that we suggest even if its the food he been on for a year just to see over the course of 8 weeks if the hair grows back etc.
Thank you for this! I do appreciate the advice and suggestions, I just had a gut feeling that it couldn't be the food or anything like that. But, I guess I didn't think of the possibility that he could've developed an aversion to it. And you're right that it's the cheapest option at this point. I was also thinking of getting thyroid supplements to try that but I guess you have to have a prescription? And I'm concerned about what might happen if he doesn't need it. I would've of course contacted a vet prior. I will try the food. I have a feeling that it is not allergies or necessarily anything skin related since it's symmetrical and not random. Seems like that might be more systemic? I could be wrong though but that's just my instinct.

Are there any suggestions for an inexpensive food? We went with Purina with my last dog and I thought it was good.
 

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Hair loss can be from sooo many things. First off I'll address the thyroid, you cannot simply give thyroid pills and hope for the best. The thyroid ties in to just about every function of the body and if it's not functioning correctly it needs to be carefully monitored. You'll need to get a thyroid panel test done by the vet to see if it's the thyroid, then they'll decide if it's hypo or hyper thyroid and give the appropriate medicine. Next they'll need to do test, in humans it's generally a month after starting the medicine not sure about dogs, to see if the medicine needs to be adjusted. I doubt that it's thyroid though, usually a dog will have more symptoms then just hair loss.

Some questions.
Is he scratching or chewing himself?
Does his skin have a bad smell?
Did they do a skin scrape on him?

I noticed you say you have him on Purina. Which one? What's the proteins in it?

What treats are you giving him?
How is his poo?

It could be food or environmental issues. It could also be a flea allergy. It could also be something more serious.

If it's fleas it only takes 1 to get on a dog and bite it to trigger a reaction, so while flea preventative will help a lot it won't completely prevent reactions.

Environmental allergies are also a pain to deal with, it's generally next to impossible to prevent all reactions depending on what the dog is allergic to. My boy had environmental allergies and I strongly suspect flea allergies, as Crazy mentioned he's on a prescription allergy pill that helps a ton, it's Apoquel but it's a bit expensive, it cost me $33 for a months supply if I give him one every day. It's also a relatively new medicine and I do worry what it's long term effects may be, but without it my boy was scratching his sides raw and setting himself up for infections.

Food tends to be the easiest allergy to control, and for your boy I'd put him on a food that does not have whatever proteins are in the Purina (usually beef and chicken if I remember right) and one that is grain free. A relatively inexpensive one to try is the Tractor Supply store brand 4Health, it's a good quality food and should not cost $5 more then the Purina. It comes in grain free and chicken free flavors. The draw back is that it can only be found at Tractor Supply. Feed it for a month and nothing else. If you need to give him treats then use the same type as the food. If it's the food his skin should have started clearing up by the end of the trial. Food allergies are usually caused by the protein, grain, or dyes in the food and treats, but it can be caused by other ingredients.

If he gets worse during the trial then it's time to get him to the vet, if he doesn't get better after it then I'd also take him to the vet. At the vet I'd ask for a thyroid test, diabetes test, and skin scrape to start with.

Considering that the weight loss, increased thirst and urination, combined with the poor coat could indicate diabetes you may want to skip the trial all together and just go in and ask them to test him for diabetes, once cleared of that then do the food trail. Diabetes Mellitus (Diabetes) in Dogs | drbarchas.com
 

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Hair loss can be from sooo many things. First off I'll address the thyroid, you cannot simply give thyroid pills and hope for the best. The thyroid ties in to just about every function of the body and if it's not functioning correctly it needs to be carefully monitored. You'll need to get a thyroid panel test done by the vet to see if it's the thyroid, then they'll decide if it's hypo or hyper thyroid and give the appropriate medicine. Next they'll need to do test, in humans it's generally a month after starting the medicine not sure about dogs, to see if the medicine needs to be adjusted. I doubt that it's thyroid though, usually a dog will have more symptoms then just hair loss.

Some questions.
Is he scratching or chewing himself?
Does his skin have a bad smell?
Did they do a skin scrape on him?

I noticed you say you have him on Purina. Which one? What's the proteins in it?

What treats are you giving him?
How is his poo?

It could be food or environmental issues. It could also be a flea allergy. It could also be something more serious.

If it's fleas it only takes 1 to get on a dog and bite it to trigger a reaction, so while flea preventative will help a lot it won't completely prevent reactions.

Environmental allergies are also a pain to deal with, it's generally next to impossible to prevent all reactions depending on what the dog is allergic to. My boy had environmental allergies and I strongly suspect flea allergies, as Crazy mentioned he's on a prescription allergy pill that helps a ton, it's Apoquel but it's a bit expensive, it cost me $33 for a months supply if I give him one every day. It's also a relatively new medicine and I do worry what it's long term effects may be, but without it my boy was scratching his sides raw and setting himself up for infections.

Food tends to be the easiest allergy to control, and for your boy I'd put him on a food that does not have whatever proteins are in the Purina (usually beef and chicken if I remember right) and one that is grain free. A relatively inexpensive one to try is the Tractor Supply store brand 4Health, it's a good quality food and should not cost $5 more then the Purina. It comes in grain free and chicken free flavors. The draw back is that it can only be found at Tractor Supply. Feed it for a month and nothing else. If you need to give him treats then use the same type as the food. If it's the food his skin should have started clearing up by the end of the trial. Food allergies are usually caused by the protein, grain, or dyes in the food and treats, but it can be caused by other ingredients.

If he gets worse during the trial then it's time to get him to the vet, if he doesn't get better after it then I'd also take him to the vet. At the vet I'd ask for a thyroid test, diabetes test, and skin scrape to start with.

Considering that the weight loss, increased thirst and urination, combined with the poor coat could indicate diabetes you may want to skip the trial all together and just go in and ask them to test him for diabetes, once cleared of that then do the food trail. Diabetes Mellitus (Diabetes) in Dogs | drbarchas.com
Wow - THANK YOU. This is exactly the response I was hoping to get on here. Very informative. To answer your questions: yes, he is very itchy and scratchy and does chew a lot. We moved in August 2014 from Virginia Beach to the Georgia mountains into a house with 4 cats who are untrained (poo and pee all around) and often have fleas. He's had allergies since moving here, I think due to the environment change, maybe the cat dander, and definitely the fleas. We took him to the vet in September for the allergies. Subsequently we put him on a stronger med and gave him a month's worth of antihistamines. But, of course, the more moderate allergies came right back (eye gunk, scratching). So, I've always attributed the scratching/chewing to just living in this house. Like I said in the OP, not an ideal living situation. So it's hard to tell if this is a symptom related to the hair loss. His face is also itchy, which I've read could be considered a symptom. His ears seem itchy too but are not infected or irritated. I clean and check them regularly.

His skin DOES have a very bad smell. This I've attributed to the wet cat food. It seems to have gone away since he stopped eating it but he still stinks much worse than he used to - he didn't use to smell at all, really. It's a disgusting, musky, BO kind of smell that really sticks to the carpet. I wash him once a week to manage but it's still apparent.

I want to say that all this started (increased hyperactivity, bad smell, hair loss) around when my newborn came home. We switched rooms around and he started spending more time around the cats and their food and waste. But, it's hard to tell what symptoms, if any, are just due to the stress of having a newborn around (he is a VERY socially demanding dog), and which are due to something else.

We haven't brought him to the vet yet so no skin scrape, but a receptionist I spoke to at one said they might need to after I described it to him.

The food i give him is Purina with salmon. I was advised to use food with a fish protein in it to help with his skin. He rarely gets treats but we did get him a box of cheapo treats for Christmas. I will most likely be checking the ingredients and chucking these given his current state. Can't check right now though due to newborn sleeping on me. His poop is totally normal.

I have a gut feeling that it might not be fleas since he is not scratching like he was when he definitely had them when we first moved in. I also never see them on him. But, the scabs make me think otherwise. I also think this reaction wouldve shown sooner if it were fleas, especially since if anything, there are less fleas around due to the cooler weather. Another reason I've been putting off the vet visit was to see if everything got better when we moved which is hopefully very very soon. Like a week or two.

I will be changing his food. Would a different kind of fish other than salmon be advisable or should I go for a totally different protein? I will also take away the bone he got at Christmas (poor guy) just in case that was it. Thank you so much for your suggestions, I so appreciate it. I hope you're able to read my answers and get some more insight!
 

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Your welcome! Hopefully I can help a bit. My old boy, Shadow, had food allergies, I think it started as an intolerance that towards the end of his life developed into a true allergy. My current boy, Zody, has environmental allergies. Between the two of them I've gotten a bit of an education on allergies LOL. I'm glad to share what I learned.

You're more in depth description sounds a lot more like allergies. When I overloaded Shadow on chicken, before I know he had an allergy to it, he started scratching his sides till they were raw, licking his paws, he would rub his face on everything, and his ears started bothering him. When I took him off the food and treats that contained chicken and grains all the itching went away.

When did you put him on the Purina salmon food? Did he have the smell before that? Some dogs develop a bad smell from fish based foods, other dogs not so much. Zody can eat it but does smell a little bit when he does. It could also be that he has a yeast infection of the skin, dogs with those reek, an owner can bathe them and the smell will be back in a few days at the most. If it's a yeast infection the vet will need to prescribe medicine to cure, I think they diagnose it with a skin scrape but wouldn't swear to that.

If you do a food trial you'll need to find a protein that he's not had, so you won't be able to get one with salmon in it. When searching for a new food read the labels carefully, from what I could find Purina has 3 different lines with salmon, one includes poultry by product, and one includes chicken (poultry by product will also be chicken), so if the food you were feeding before the purina salmon included chicken and the purina salmon you are feeding includes it, that might be why the new food did not help. Also be very careful with treats if you are avoiding chicken, manufactures love to sneak chicken into everything, I've seen stuff labeled beef and the first ingredient will be chicken, or it'll contain poultry by product.

Zody was on Temaril-P but was switched to the Apoquil, his allergies are a lot harder to control then Shadow's food allergies were, and I'm just hoping they don't get worse.
 

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Thought computer did its job and sent my reply obviously not. What's your budget food wise? Id go with something he not had before . Has he had lamb, beef, duck, venison ir even turkey before? If not try a one protein food. I can help you if you tell me what pet shops you have and where get food from with your budget to find better food. I honestly wouldn't mind. Diabetes never occurred to me and forgot thyroid can do that sorry.

If he stinks could be the food doing it or yeast infection. My lab was on heavy grain food he reeked so switched him to grain free food and week later it went! Vet couldn't find reason why he stank so I changed his food and yay! Honestly change of diet could help and feeding a better food will help and he will get better nutrition.

Urine dipstick test can tell if diabetes or not. That should be cheap as. Done a lot of those with my dog for her urine problems in past which raw diet has cured
 

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I'm sorry to hear about your pup's allergies! These guys sure do keep us on our toes.

I haven't tried switching his food yet; he's been on the same kind for a year. Now that I'm thinking about it, he probably is having an allergic reaction to all the cat food he ate. But - he's stopped eating it for the most part (he might be sneaking it..), so it doesn't make sense that the condition is getting worse.

Does the weight loss match up with your theory? Seems like that wouldn't necessarily be an allergic symptom would it? That's what makes me think it could be more serious. Although everything else you said checks out, even the licking of the paws.

The cat food is all seafood-based, although I haven't checked the ingredients so I'll do that too. But I'm sure there's other things about the cat food that he could've had a reaction to (I've read it contains much higher levels of certain nutrients than what is meant for dogs).

I will still be changing his food to see if that helps but my mommy's instinct is telling me he was allergic to something in the cat food.

How much is a skin scrape? What does that entail? Sounds like maybe that'd be a good place to start.
 

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Thought computer did its job and sent my reply obviously not. What's your budget food wise? Id go with something he not had before . Has he had lamb, beef, duck, venison ir even turkey before? If not try a one protein food. I can help you if you tell me what pet shops you have and where get food from with your budget to find better food. I honestly wouldn't mind. Diabetes never occurred to me and forgot thyroid can do that sorry.

If he stinks could be the food doing it or yeast infection. My lab was on heavy grain food he reeked so switched him to grain free food and week later it went! Vet couldn't find reason why he stank so I changed his food and yay! Honestly change of diet could help and feeding a better food will help and he will get better nutrition.

Urine dipstick test can tell if diabetes or not. That should be cheap as. Done a lot of those with my dog for her urine problems in past which raw diet has cured
Thank you! Sounds like he might have a yeast infection. I'm still worried about the weight loss though.

My food budget is honestly as inexpensive as possible. The big bags are what, 30 lbs? Maybe I'm making that up but I think so; we've been getting one of those in the $30's range so I'd like to stick to that. We have PetSmart and Petco here.

So - if the problem persists after a diet change, skin scrape and urine test. Should the doc do a thyroid test as well? That sounds like an expensive option but I don't know what I'm talking about.
 

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Thought computer did its job and sent my reply obviously not. What's your budget food wise? Id go with something he not had before . Has he had lamb, beef, duck, venison ir even turkey before? If not try a one protein food. I can help you if you tell me what pet shops you have and where get food from with your budget to find better food. I honestly wouldn't mind. Diabetes never occurred to me and forgot thyroid can do that sorry.

If he stinks could be the food doing it or yeast infection. My lab was on heavy grain food he reeked so switched him to grain free food and week later it went! Vet couldn't find reason why he stank so I changed his food and yay! Honestly change of diet could help and feeding a better food will help and he will get better nutrition.

Urine dipstick test can tell if diabetes or not. That should be cheap as. Done a lot of those with my dog for her urine problems in past which raw diet has cured
Oh - also wanted to say that unless he's developed a reaction to it, it shouldn't be his food that is causing the smell - he's been on the same food for a year without any smell problem.
 

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I'm sorry to hear about your pup's allergies! These guys sure do keep us on our toes.

I haven't tried switching his food yet; he's been on the same kind for a year. Now that I'm thinking about it, he probably is having an allergic reaction to all the cat food he ate. But - he's stopped eating it for the most part (he might be sneaking it..), so it doesn't make sense that the condition is getting worse.

Does the weight loss match up with your theory? Seems like that wouldn't necessarily be an allergic symptom would it? That's what makes me think it could be more serious. Although everything else you said checks out, even the licking of the paws.

The cat food is all seafood-based, although I haven't checked the ingredients so I'll do that too. But I'm sure there's other things about the cat food that he could've had a reaction to (I've read it contains much higher levels of certain nutrients than what is meant for dogs).

I will still be changing his food to see if that helps but my mommy's instinct is telling me he was allergic to something in the cat food.

How much is a skin scrape? What does that entail? Sounds like maybe that'd be a good place to start.

What brand of cat food is it? A lot of the cat foods are chicken based even when they say things like seafood, tuna, whitefish, ect. They tend to be worse then the dog food with doing that IMHO Here's an example of what I mean. Notice the food is loaded with corn, then has poultry by product, then meat and bone mean, then finally towards the bottom the fish. That means the food is mainly corn, then unnamed bird meat,
Friskies Seafood Sensation:
Ground yellow corn, corn gluten meal, poultry by-product meal, soybean meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, meat and bone meal, animal liver flavor, ocean fish meal, phosphoric acid, salt, calcium carbonate, choline chloride, potassium chloride, salmon meal, tuna meal, shrimp meal, crab meal, dehydrated seaweed meal, taurine, zinc sulfate, added color, ferrous sulfate, Vitamin E supplement, manganese sulfate, Yellow 5, Red 40, niacin, Yellow 6, copper sulfate, Blue 2, Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B-12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium iodate, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, biotin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), sodium selenite

It's also a really good example of a food with very poor quality ingredients but that's for another thread LOL.

If that's the type of food he's been sneaking then the likely culprits would be the corn, poultry (chicken, turkey, duck), whatever the meat may be and it could be anything, and the dyes. If he's still managing to sneak it then he's still being exposed to whatever he's allergic to. It'd be like someone who has a peanut allergy, once a day, eating something that has just a little bit of peanut sauce on it maybe just half a teaspoonful. The allergic reaction would not stop and might get worse because of the continuous exposure, or maybe they'll just keep having a mild reaction but enough to be miserable.
It could be that the cat food paired with the dog food is causing him to have enough exposure to make the reaction worse. That's what happened to Shadow, I think he always had a slight allergy but it became worse when I put him on a food that was only chicken based and had switched his canned food and treats to ones that were chicken based, after I did that his allergy went haywire.

Vet prices vary from place to place and even vets in the same general area will have different prices so I cannot guess, they shouldn't be all that expensive though, in my area they're less then $100. What I'd do is call up the vets and ask about the price for it. Explain what's going on and see what they advise. My guess would be that they'd have you bring in the dog, charge for an exam and the skin scrape if they feel it's warranted. If you go to a different vet then your normal one they'll also need your dog's medical records, they should be able to call and get them faxed.

The weight loss is more worrying and I can't begin to guess why he may be losing weight. It normally won't happen with allergies, neither will increased thirst and urination.

The 4Health food that I mentioned is one of the least expensive, decent, foods that I know of. Most of the others are going to cost you around $20 more per bag then you are paying. PetSmart and PetCo are both massively over priced on their foods. You'd do better going to a feed store, or a store like Tractor Supply, or my personal favorite Dog and Cat Food, Treats, and Supplies | Free Shipping at Chewy.com. The last is where I get my pet food from. Here's two links to compare prices...
Merrick Grain-Free Real Texas Beef + Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food, 25-lb bag
Merrick Grain Free Real Texas Beef & Sweet Potato Dog Food, 4 lbs. | Petco Store
Merrick Grain Free Real Texas Beef + Sweet Potato Dog Food, 25 lb. - For Life Out Here
It's also worth noting that Petco and Tractor Supply's local prices may be higher or lower then the websites.

This 4Health food may work for your boy 4health Grain Free Pork & Potato Dog Food, 30 lb. - For Life Out Here
 

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I'm sorry to hear about your pup's allergies! These guys sure do keep us on our toes.

I haven't tried switching his food yet; he's been on the same kind for a year. Now that I'm thinking about it, he probably is having an allergic reaction to all the cat food he ate. But - he's stopped eating it for the most part (he might be sneaking it..), so it doesn't make sense that the condition is getting worse.

Does the weight loss match up with your theory? Seems like that wouldn't necessarily be an allergic symptom would it? That's what makes me think it could be more serious. Although everything else you said checks out, even the licking of the paws.

The cat food is all seafood-based, although I haven't checked the ingredients so I'll do that too. But I'm sure there's other things about the cat food that he could've had a reaction to (I've read it contains much higher levels of certain nutrients than what is meant for dogs).

I will still be changing his food to see if that helps but my mommy's instinct is telling me he was allergic to something in the cat food.

How much is a skin scrape? What does that entail? Sounds like maybe that'd be a good place to start.

What brand of cat food is it? A lot of the cat foods are chicken based even when they say things like seafood, tuna, whitefish, ect. They tend to be worse then the dog food with doing that IMHO Here's an example of what I mean. Notice the food is loaded with corn, then has poultry by product, then meat and bone mean, then finally towards the bottom the fish. That means the food is mainly corn, then unnamed bird meat,
Friskies Seafood Sensation:
Ground yellow corn, corn gluten meal, poultry by-product meal, soybean meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, meat and bone meal, animal liver flavor, ocean fish meal, phosphoric acid, salt, calcium carbonate, choline chloride, potassium chloride, salmon meal, tuna meal, shrimp meal, crab meal, dehydrated seaweed meal, taurine, zinc sulfate, added color, ferrous sulfate, Vitamin E supplement, manganese sulfate, Yellow 5, Red 40, niacin, Yellow 6, copper sulfate, Blue 2, Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B-12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium iodate, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, biotin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), sodium selenite

It's also a really good example of a food with very poor quality ingredients but that's for another thread LOL.

If that's the type of food he's been sneaking then the likely culprits would be the corn, poultry (chicken, turkey, duck), whatever the meat may be and it could be anything, and the dyes. If he's still managing to sneak it then he's still being exposed to whatever he's allergic to. It'd be like someone who has a peanut allergy, once a day, eating something that has just a little bit of peanut sauce on it maybe just half a teaspoonful. The allergic reaction would not stop and might get worse because of the continuous exposure, or maybe they'll just keep having a mild reaction but enough to be miserable.
It could be that the cat food paired with the dog food is causing him to have enough exposure to make the reaction worse. That's what happened to Shadow, I think he always had a slight allergy but it became worse when I put him on a food that was only chicken based and had switched his canned food and treats to ones that were chicken based, after I did that his allergy went haywire.

Vet prices vary from place to place and even vets in the same general area will have different prices so I cannot guess, they shouldn't be all that expensive though, in my area they're less then $100. What I'd do is call up the vets and ask about the price for it. Explain what's going on and see what they advise. My guess would be that they'd have you bring in the dog, charge for an exam and the skin scrape if they feel it's warranted. If you go to a different vet then your normal one they'll also need your dog's medical records, they should be able to call and get them faxed.

The weight loss is more worrying and I can't begin to guess why he may be losing weight. It normally won't happen with allergies, neither will increased thirst and urination.

The 4Health food that I mentioned is one of the least expensive, decent, foods that I know of. Most of the others are going to cost you around $20 more per bag then you are paying. PetSmart and PetCo are both massively over priced on their foods. You'd do better going to a feed store, or a store like Tractor Supply, or my personal favorite Dog and Cat Food, Treats, and Supplies | Free Shipping at Chewy.com. The last is where I get my pet food from. Here's two links to compare prices...
Merrick Grain-Free Real Texas Beef + Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food, 25-lb bag
Merrick Grain Free Real Texas Beef & Sweet Potato Dog Food, 4 lbs. | Petco Store
Merrick Grain Free Real Texas Beef + Sweet Potato Dog Food, 25 lb. - For Life Out Here
It's also worth noting that Petco and Tractor Supply's local prices may be higher or lower then the websites.

This 4Health food may work for your boy 4health Grain Free Pork & Potato Dog Food, 30 lb. - For Life Out Here
Wow thank you! We do have tractor supply and other feed stores around here. I don't know why I figured those would be more expensive. I will compare prices and check the ingredients of the cat food.

Calling the vet now!
 

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What your dog has is called Alopecia.

Symmetrical hair loss — There are several known causes for this, including excessive levels of steroids in the dog's body produced by the adrenal glands, low thyroid levels, increased levels of estrogen, low levels of female hormone secretion, and testosterone-related hair loss (occurring when the levels are lowered suddenly in the dog).
It could also be Flank Alopecia (and the bilateral symmetric hair loss on the flank and some weight loss can occur) because of the timing, this normally occurs between November and March and has no apparent cause. To diagnose a vet will rule out endocrinopathies (CBC, clinical biochemistry, T4, TSH, HAC-tests) and skin biopsy.

Animals Hair Losss & Hormonal Disease | Pet Care Services - Animal Dermatology Clinic
http://www.ivis.org/proceedings/navc/2005/SAE/091.pdf?LA=1
https://www.petassure.com/newsletters/041510newsletter/04152010article2.html
 
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