Dogs affected by a skin irritation and loss of hair are usually suffering either from eczema or one or two types of mange. The location of the first appearance of the trouble is an indication of which to suspect.
A reader has a puppy with a severe irritation, mainly on the front legs near the joints. It bites at the skin and causes sores to appear. Another pup from the same litter has lost all its hair.
The pup that has lost all its hair has probably got demodectic mange, which can be treated with a medicated soap.
The pup with the irritation on the legs is probably suffering from sarcoptic mange. This is treated by clipping the hair away from the affected parts and rubbing them with a topical solution according to directions on the packet.
If the dog licks off the medicine it would be safer to change to a medicated soap as he may become poisoned if he swallows too much of the other preparation.
Sarcoptic mange may show up on any part of the body but the elbows and hocks are the usual starting points.
The disease, which is caused by a mite, is intensely irritating and causes the dog to scratch continually. It spreads easily to other dogs so all contacts should be treated at the same time. Disinfection of kennels should accompany treatment.
Demodectic mange may affect the whole body and cause all the hair to fall out leaving a shiny skin. The usual starting point is around the eyes where the hair falls out giving the dog a bespectacled appearance. Scratching is not such a marked symptom with this type of mange.
Early treatment with a topical solution rubbed into the affected parts (not into the eyes) twice a day may arrest the disease but a medicated soap is more likely to be effective.
A loss of hair down the middle of the back, especially if it occurs in summer, is almost a sure sign of eczema.
This trouble is not caused by a mite but is usually the result of too much starchy food in the diet. Treatment is to correct the diet. A calamine lotion on the skin may help but it is no use making external applications while the diet is wrong.