Q. I have a 5-month-old Collie/Labrador Retriever mix. Over the last few weeks, I noticed that her hair is becoming thin or non-existent on her muzzle, between and around the inner corners of her eyes, and especially the chin and lower mouth areas. Her skin is very pink where the hair has thinned. Is this hair thinning normal or should I take her to the vet pronto? The hair on the rest of her body is thickening.
A. Most likely the skin changes you are seeing in your dog are nothing to worry about, but I would recommend having her checked out by a veterinarian.
It’s possible she is developing a skin disease, such as lupus, caused by an overactive immune system. Lupus is usually found in Collie-type breeds, and often is related to exposure to the sun.
If your veterinarian is suspicious of lupus, she may want to submit a biopsy sample. Many cases of lupus clear up with the use of a zinc-containing sun block, or by simply minimizing exposure to the sun. Some medications can also help.
Other diseases that could cause thinning hair include low thyroid levels or an out-of-balance adrenal gland. Once your veterinarian examines your dog, you can both decide if any diagnostic testing is warranted.