Vet tips |

Vet tips

Mace Dekker, DVM
Submitted to The Union

Why is my dog losing hair?

It is challenging to generalize about skin issues and hair loss, because what looks like the same thing in two different cases can in fact have very different causes. Having said that, the underlying causes can be grouped into different categories.

First, there are parasites. Fleas, some mites and ringworm (a fungus) can all cause hair loss. The second category is allergies; certain foods, environmental exposure or inhalant allergies can all lead to loss of hair. And third, endocrine (hormonal) changes can lead to the same signs. There are a few less common causes (e.g., dietary deficits, micronutrient issues, auto-immune disease), but most cases fall under the first three categories. In order to solve the hair loss, the cause must first be determined and some testing will be needed.

A related question is “Why does my dog scratch so much?” which can lead to hair loss.

Again, there can be a lot of reasons for this, but often it is because of being allergic to something. That “something” can be insect bites (e.g., fleas), dust mites, grass pollen, perfumes, etc. Just as with people, our pets can be tested for allergies and receive desensitization injections to decrease the allergies. Or there are multiple medications and supplements that can help them with their scratching.

What is the best way

to treat fleas?

Fleas are best treated with the higher-end topical medications (such as Frontline) that will eventually kill all the fleas in the environment. This can take a while with heavy infestations, however. If there is one flea on the pet, there are 10 in the environment, and with heavy infestations other measures may be needed as well, such as bombing the house or spraying.

Grass Valley Veterinary Hospital’s Mace Dekker, DVM. will answer questions regarding pets each month in the Vet Tips. Have a question? Submit it to, attention Dr. Dekker.

Hitchhiking cat

headed home

HELENA, Mont. — A well-traveled cat named “Mata Hairi” will soon be reunited with her owner after spending nearly 10 months traveling thousands of miles with a hitchhiker who rescued her from the rain.

The feline adventure started in Portland, Ore., when the cat’s owner, Ron Buss, let her out of the house on Sept. 1. The cat, white with patches of dark gray, usually left for no more than a couple of hours at a time, but this time she didn’t return.

When Michael King, who has been homeless since 2003, spotted Mata Hairi, she was crouched under a table at a cafe, trying to stay out of the pouring rain.

“Something told me to grab her. I don’t know,” King told the Independent Record.

He named the cat Tabor, for the cafe where he found her. She traveled with King as he hitchhiked to California, back to Portland and out to Montana, where King’s foster father lives.

King and his foster father, Walter Ebert, recently took the cat to a veterinarian in Helena, where a scan found a microchip, and the vet was able to contact Buss.

Buss is planning a party marking Mata’s return, and King agrees it’s an occasion for celebration.

But it’s going to be emotional for King, too.

“My pack will be 20 pounds lighter,” he said, “but a big hole, a big hole.”

— Associated Press

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