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Hormonal (or endocrine) problems are not the most common cause of skin problems in dogs, but they occur often enough to be of concern.
The most common hormonal diseases that affect a dog’s skin are hypothyroidism and Cushing’s Disease. Hypothyroidism is caused by a lack of thyroid hormone. Cushing’s Disease is caused by an oversupply of adrenal gland hormones, usually caused by a tumor of either the gland, or the part of the brain that controls it.
Irrespective of the type of hormonal problem, the symptoms are generally the same. Your dog will have thinning hair all over or, more commonly, symmetric hair loss on their body. Hormonal skin problems tend not to be itchy so on their own, there is usually no itching or inflammation. However, endocrine skin problems can suppress your dog’s immune system, or affect the oil production in their skin, so secondary infections are common. These do itch, and can lead to scratching and self trauma.
The only way to have hormonal skin conditions diagnosed and treated is to visit your veterinarian. They will have a suspicion that hormones are involved because of the appearance and distribution of your dog’s hair loss. Also, these conditions often have other non-skin symptoms such as excessive thirst, or extreme lethargy.
Blood tests will be necessary to make sure that your vet’s suspicions are correct. Then, you can formulate a treatment plan. Treatment will involve antibiotics and medicated shampoos, however you do have to correct the hormonal imbalance that is the original cause of the problem. If your dog has hypothyroidism, they will need to have hormone replacement therapy for the rest of their life. Regular blood tests will make sure that they are being given the correct dose of medication. Cushing’s Disease is a bit more challenging to manage, but it too can be controlled with tablets. Alternatively, surgical removal of the tumor may be possible in some cases.
In Summary – Any hormonal skin disease in dogs needs to be treated seriously, because they can be accompanied by serious internal health problems.
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