Seasonal Flank Alopecia

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In Oslo news,

My 8 year old fella was diagnosed with “Seasonal Flank Alopecia” this winter. When I initially noticed a bit of hair loss on the sides of Oslo’s body, it was so subtle that I convinced myself that I was making it up. However, as a few weeks passed, it really seemed to be getting more and more evident.

He wasn’t itchy. The skin underneath wasn’t inflamed. He doesn’t have fleas. And he didn’t have any bumps, lesions, or sores. Over all, the was nearly asymptomatic.. aside from the fact that he was increasingly going bald on both sides of his body. So, to the vet he went.

They did a skin scrape and a full blood panel, and it all came back clear and excellent. He doesn’t have parasites, no fungal infections,  this thyroid is fine, and everything else is fabulous. So! He was diagnosed with “Seasonal Flank Alopecia”.

Seasonal Flank Alopecia is common in English Bulldogs, Scottish Terriers, Shar Peis, Giant Schnauzers, Airedale Terriers, Labrador Retrievers, Boxers, Dobermans, and (as I have come to learn) Frenchies. Dogs living in colder, darker regions seem to experience it the most often. Typically hair loss will start in November, and not begin to regrow until March. Essentially, they lose the hair during their normal winter-‘shed’… all the other hair on their body regrows, but the hair on their sides does not. Not until the next seasonal re-growth in spring.

Some dogs experience hyper pigmentation of the affected area– meaning the skin turns very dark in colour. Some experience a complete loss of hair, and go completely smooth-bald. Some experience just a thinning. Some dogs only experience it once in their life… Others never have the hair regrow, or will lose the hair every single winter, and some just experience it every few years. Since this is the first time it’s happened to Oslo, we don’t know where he will fall in all that, but the good news is that while the hair loss is a bit unsightly, it is also basically harmless.

Treatment can involve giving supplemental melatonin. Light-therapy using a ‘light box‘– similar to a S.A.D that people use. And just generally trying to get the dog out into the sunlight for a bit of time every day through the winter months (this is hard to do when it’s -20 degrees every damn day, all winter long!) Fortunately, Oslo’s hair already seems to be growing back, and he is totally unbothered by his current look. It may happen to him again next winter, but I will hopefully be able to stave it off by supplementing with melatonin before the hair loss occurs.

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ch-ch-ch-chaaaanges

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On February 23rd, our house hold grew by +1.

It’s been 5 weeks since Baby B made his debut, and I am just finally feeling like the earth is spinning at a semi-normal pace. It was a bit of a whirlwind for awhile there.
Oslo, Jersey, and Xyla have adjusted well to their new (mostly) hairless pack member.

Oslo, being the most high-strung & crazy dog in the house, was a bit wound up initially. Every time the baby cried (which was often) or any time I’d breast feed (which was even more often) he would pant, pace around the house, and generally display signs of anxiety. Thankfully he’s calmed down with that silliness now. He still is desperate to lick B’s hands and face, which we let him do once or twice a day for good measure, but over all he isn’t nearly as much of a basket case.

Jersey, being the most laid back dog on the planet, doesn’t seem to care at all about the baby. When we hold the baby down for him to sniff and lick, he ignores the baby completely, and instead tries to force his head under our hands for pets (hard to do when our hards are busy holding an infant).

Over all, they have both responded exactly as I suspect they would, so no big surprises. Oslo is crazy. Jersey is chill. Typical.

Thankfully, Jersey’s  health has held out these last 5 weeks, and I haven’t had to deal with him being painful as well as managing new baby. We have him on medication 2x a day now, and he seems to be doing well on that. We are planning a trip to Vancouver in early May, and will be bringing Jersey in to the Neurologist to be re-examined. He’s been stable for the last couple of months, but I don’t trust his spine one bit. For now though, I’m thankful that he’s doing well, he’s able to participate in regular activities, and generally is happy and comfortable.

Spring is FINALLY here after a very long, hard winter. Between Jersey’s spinal issues which started in November… and the unusually cold and snowy weather we have had, this winter has been a doozy & I couldn’t be happier to see it gone. With the snow finally melted, and the temperatures finally consistently above zero, I’ve been able to walk the dogs more, allow them time on the front porch, and even open the windows some afternoons to let in some fresh spring air. Simple as they may be, it all feels like a real treat.

Doofuses

Jersey is back to doing well. He had a small spasm last Friday (a week ago) following an especially exciting visit to the vet for his regular nail trim and anal-gland appointment. Which isn’t surprising, all things considered.  If we keep him calm, on routine, and on his medications though, he’s his normal self again.

I am also due to have a baby any time in the next 3 weeks, and I worry about how the dogs will adjust to *that*. I desperately hope that the change in the house (and what a huge change it will be) won’t throw Jersey back about 25 steps in his progress.

It IS exhausting trying to keep the house as quiet and peaceful as possible. I feel like I am constantly walking on egg shells and always on high alert with him.

On the plus side– the sooner the baby comes, and the snow melts, the sooner we can make the trip back to Vancouver to have him seen again by his Neurologist. Hopefully then we can get to the bottom of why he’s still requiring medication to function, and why he’s still so damn delicate. This has been going on since November, and to say I am “over” it would be pretty huge understatement. I’m sure HE is over it as well.

In the meantime, I’m glad he’s comfortable and happy again.

 

Doing better

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It was a rough few days there, but I’m happy to say that we seem to have gotten Jersey’s pain back under control and he is doing well. He has spent the last week on strict crate rest while we grappled with everything, but now that he’s stable (and on meds 3x daily) we have been able to relax the crate rules a bit and give him a tiny bit more freedom.

At this point, I am not sure that weaning him off his medications entirely is a reasonable goal. He was doing quite well when we had him down to 2x a day…. and I think we may be able to get back to that point, however anything less that seems unattainable right now. I think that for now the goal will be to simply keep him comfortable and happy on whatever medication is necessary until we are able to bring him back in to Canada West for another Neurological Exam in a month or two.

We’ve tried TWICE since November to get him off these meds, and both times have been epic failures. It is obvious to me at this point that he needs the medication because there is something more serious going on in that neck of his (didn’t heal correctly? re-injury? new injury?) and getting to the bottom of THAT needs to happen before we can consider being medication free.

In the mean time, I am thankful for medications that are safe for long term use, that Jersey does well on, and that aren’t too cripplingly expensive (though insurance would cover most of the expense even if they were).

Painful. Again.

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Well, shit. What was a very encouraging start to being weened from his medications, has taken an unfortunate turn.

Jersey was doing great on just half of his regular dose of medications, so a few days ago, I went ahead and cut that down a bit further. Apparently that additional, small reduction was just enough to be too much for Jersey to handle.

Yesterday evening Jersey started acting painful and had a few small spasms….  and that went on to continue through the entire night. It’s currently 8am, and I’ve been up with him more or less all night long, massaging and helping him through the worst bits, and stealing 45 minutes of sleep here and there when I could.

His neck seems to be in just one never-ending soft spasm. He’s very painful, and very miserable.

Frustratingly, he had a nail trim & anal gland appointment today. I was excited to bring him in and have his vet see all the progress he has made. Not to mention, he’s well due to have his nails & glands done! But now that has to wait until we’re able to get his pain back under control.

Last time this happened, it took 5-6 days to get him stable and comfortable again. So I guess he & I are looking at another long, stressful week. I can’t wait to get this boy back in to see the Neurologist in the spring. It’s clear that he absolutely needs another MRI/CT scan and exam to figure out just what the hell is going on. It’s very unusual for dogs who have had Jersey’s surgery to still be painful and reliant on medication 2.5 months later.

He was doing so well, you guys!! This is such a frustrating, and discouraging bump in the road.