Posted on 04-13-2015
This is a photo of a lovely little Pomeranian named Ginger. Several months earlier, she had her fur clipped so as to be more comfortable in warm weather. It is clear from the photo that her fur was not growing back as expected. All along her body it was thin, sparse and even absent in places while continuing to grow normally on her head and legs. The technical expression for this appearance is " bilaterally-symetrical, trunk hypotrichosis and alopecia"-in plain English: "fur thinning and loss on both sides of the body".
"...Ginger's fur was not growing back very well. All along her body it was thin, sparse and even absent in places while continuing to grow normally on her head and legs..."
This pattern of fur thinning and loss is usually associated with endocrine (hormonal) disruptions. The list of potential causes usually include: hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid glands) and Cushing's disease (over active adrenal glands). Ginger tested negative for both of these diseases, so another less-well-known but likely common disorder known as "Alopecia-X" became a possibility. In the veterinary/medical world when an "X" is branded onto part of a name for a condition, it usually indicates that we don't yet know what the underlying cause is. This is certainly the case with Alopecia-X. There is no blood test available to diagnose it. What we do know is that the condition occurs in certain breeds such as Pomeranians, Huskies and Chow Chows. We also know that it can sometimes be managed by the administration of melatonin. The diagnosis, in this case, is made by documenting a response to melatonin.
" We know that Alopecia-X can occur in Pomeranians, Huskies and Chow Chows. We also know that it can sometimes be managed by the administration of melatonin."
Melatonin is a hormone produced in a gland in the brain known as the Pineal Gland. It helps to regulate the wake-sleep cycle. Many people are directed to take it to help them sleep (though its use for this is controversial).
I instructed Ginger's owners to purchase some melatonin over the counter at their pharmacy and give it to her twice daily.
This is how she looked a few months later at a medical progress exam. As you can see, her hair was back in force, thick and luxuriant!
Thanks to Ginger and her owners Mr and Mrs Pease for allowing me to share her case.
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