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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One thought on “Seasonal Flank Alopecia

  1. Glad to hear that it doesn’t seem to be bothering him much. Your poor guys just can’t seem to catch a break!

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