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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-17-2017, 11:04 AM Thread Starter
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Pulling out hair

My poor 13 mo female has basically pulled out all her tail hair. There is no redness or signs of irritation. She only pulls out the feathery hair. We mentioned it to the vet about a month back and she said it was probably boredom. We've really increased her play and training time and it hasn't seemed to make a difference. Since we just transitioned to adult food, we put her on Purina ProPlan Sensitive Skin & Stomach in case it was food related (the hair pulling presented before the transition). She had a lot of digestive issues her first year, but the transition went smoothly. It's been about 3 weeks & I don't know if that's enough time to expect a difference, but we are still seeing chunks on hair around the house. She's a tiny dog, probably just shy of 50lbs, so she's not at all overweight, which is what happens with thyroid issues, right?

We don't know what to do. Is there anything else we can rule out at home or do we need to go back to the vet's office? We live in a super pollen-y area, BTW, so I was wondering if environmental allergies could be the culprit. Thanks.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-17-2017, 12:02 PM
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Just me but would be back at the vet. I would ask for full blood work up including thyroid, check for fleas, anal glands checked, fecal checked for rounds/hooks and treatment for tape worms just because.
May be over kill but this is where I would start. If medical issues are ruled out then put a cone on her to stop the chewing and work on training games to relieve the boredom if this is indeed the problem. I hope you find the answer soon, this sounds like a stressful situation for your pup.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-17-2017, 12:09 PM
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I would get bloodwork done at the vet. The appropriate thyroid panel is about $500. They can refer you to a dermatologist if the dog comes back with a clean bill of health. It's important to rule out the health stuff first.

If you find that she is healthy, keep in mind that some dogs do not do well without a job. My yellow Lab will give himself a lick granuloma on his foot if he's not kept busy. He also has a touch of anxiety, which is typical for a dog that exhibits this type of behavior. It's important to find a breeder that breeds dogs with the appropriate temperament for your lifestyle, but sometimes we get something that surprises us anyway!

If you find that her issues are not related to physical health, talk to a behaviorist, especially one that specializes in sporting dogs (I recommend Sarah Stremming at Cognitive Canine - here is her blog which might have some advice). Play is great, but training is really what is needed for a dog with boredom/anxiety issues. You have to tire out her brain. Sometimes changing food helps, especially going from processed to raw. Adding large meaty raw bones and food puzzles may help. Be careful of repetitive exercises, like ball chasing, that can turn into OCD and make things worse.

Meanwhile, you also have to break the habit. It's sort of like nail chewing in humans. I'd try a cone for maintenance in addition to added training and vet tests. I had to put duct tape on my dog's lick granuloma and I've met people who have had to fashion a wrap out of chain mail when things got really out of hand with lick granulomas (they have to breathe when they get big and nasty).
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-17-2017, 01:22 PM
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My girl used to pull out her arm feathers when left at home by herself. She still does it occasionally, but nowhere close to the degree to which she had been doing it before. What I did was spray bitter apple on her front legs before leaving or if I caught her doing it. It did solve the issue fairly quickly. I believe for my girl it was just boredom.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-17-2017, 01:48 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by FosterGolden View Post
I would get bloodwork done at the vet. The appropriate thyroid panel is about $500.
I called the vet's office and was quoted less than $150 for the thyroid bloodwork. I'm assuming this is less comprehensive than what you are describing. Is there something specific I should request?

Does anyone have an idea how long it takes for the tail hair to grow back?
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-17-2017, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Vhuynh2 View Post
My girl used to pull out her arm feathers when left at home by herself. She still does it occasionally, but nowhere close to the degree to which she had been doing it before. What I did was spray bitter apple on her front legs before leaving or if I caught her doing it. It did solve the issue fairly quickly. I believe for my girl it was just boredom.
What did you do about the underlying cause (boredom)?
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-17-2017, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by potatotown View Post
I called the vet's office and was quoted less than $150 for the thyroid bloodwork. I'm assuming this is less comprehensive than what you are describing. Is there something specific I should request?

Does anyone have an idea how long it takes for the tail hair to grow back?
There are two (or more) tests; but one tells you for certain what is going on with the thyroid and includes a full panel, but I cannot remember what the name of it is. Hopefully someone here can chime in. I had it done with my dog about 18 months ago when he coat when to hell (his bloodwork came back perfect).
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-17-2017, 02:22 PM
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With my Rufus it took entire 2 months, before his tail hair grew to a reasonable length. We went for the morning walk, he run in the bushes and he came back with his tail full of burs. I had to run for a meeting in the morning so I promised Rufus to take care of his burs as soon as I am back. He didn't wait for me, cleaned up his tail entirely, including his skin. When I came back, a blood was dripping from all over his tail. Now I know, if there is even a smallest twig in his tail I have to remove it promptly, otherwise he will remove it himself including his hair and skin.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-17-2017, 02:35 PM
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Quote:
Does anyone have an idea how long it takes for the tail hair to grow back?
It should grow back fairly quickly, by that I mean in a few months, it's not going to happen overnight though. I feed my boy PPP SSS, he has a sensitive stomach. When I adopted him at age 2, he was underweight and was having all kinds of stomach issues and his coat was real thin and scraggly looking. Within a few months it started coming in really nice along with his feathering. He's got a really good coat now-he's 8.

Hope you're able to find out what is causing your pup's problems.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-17-2017, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by FosterGolden View Post
What did you do about the underlying cause (boredom)?
She had been in formal obedience classes since she was 5 months old and we worked every, single, day and had long, long walks and trips to the park and swam every single day. We started field training at 13 months (but she had stopped pulling her hair by then). Nothing could stop her from being bored when she was home by herself although I'd leave her a frozen Kong each time. I wasn't working so she was never left by herself for more than a couple of hours a day.

I left this out originally but I also think a little bit of anxiety may also play a part. She is not the most confident dog. She does not have separation anxiety at all, but when we first moved to a new house about two years ago, she started pulling her hair out again when left home alone. It wasn't too bad but I'd come home to a few tufts of hair on the bed. This time I let the issue resolve on its own. I assume it was due to being left alone in a new environment.

There may also be an obsessive component to it (like lick granulomas). If my girl is laying on grass, just playing or hanging out, she will no doubt start pulling her arm feathers. I think she may see the grass as things caught in her feathers and she wants to remove them. Who knows. She does not do it on any other surface. She will stop when I ask her to. The hair pulling behavior may have started as her trying to get something out of it, and then became somewhat of an obsession.

I can play doggy psychiatrist all day

Last edited by Vhuynh2; 05-17-2017 at 02:59 PM.
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