Pomeranians and most other Spitz dog breeds are susceptible to a type of hair loss known as Black Skin Disease. Pomeranian Black Skin Disease is known by many other terms, including Alopecia X, BSD, Coat Funk, Castration Responsive Alopecia, Pseudo-Cushing’s Syndrome, Adrenal Sex Hormone Alopecia, Biopsy Responsive Alopecia, Hair Cycle Arrest.
Black Skin Disease / Alopecia X in the Pomeranian refers to symmetrical coat loss and resulting dark pigmentation of his skin in the bald areas.
A Black Skin Disease Pomeranian will slowly lose his fur and there are different stages:
1. He’ll start having odd patches that look different to the rest of his fur or his coat may appear very dry, dull and dead looking. Usually the first signs of coat loss problems begin with thinning tail coat and areas on the back legs.
2. The patches will get thinner and increase with time.
3. Over time his fur will keep falling out until there are parts with no fur at all and you can only see his skin.
4. It’s known as Black Skin Disease because the dog’s skin, when exposed to air, will discolour and appear black. Alopecia X is another name some people use for this disease. Alopecia X simply means “unexplained loss of fur or hair,” which doesn’t provide the answers that owners seek.
The onset of Black Skin Disease in Pomeranians
Early onset BSD (Alopecia X):
Pomeranian puppies with beautiful, full, fluffy coats as puppies may develop early onset BSD.
Pomeranian puppies with these types of coats often lack the harsh guard hairs and feel like “cotton” to touch. These puppies often do not shed puppy coat and go through the ugly stage like the majority of Pomeranian puppies.
Coat loss usually occurs at around 14 to 16 months and these cases are referred to as the early onset version of black skin disease.
Late onset Black Skin disease
This usually occurs at around 3 to 4 years of age. Pom owners may at first believe their dog is simply going through a coat change. Instead, however, a dull, dry, thinning coat may be the first indicator of BSD.
There’s still a lot of research to be conducted on the topic of Pomeranian Black Skin Disease. However, studies so far have shown that a Pom is usually at least one years old before he shows any signs of this disease. But he can actually be almost any age, from as young as 3 months to as old as being a senior dog in double digit figures.
The last stage of BSD is when he has lost most or all of his fur, usually the hair on the dog’s head and legs remain with a few wispy hairs on his body and tail. His skin will be black. A Pom isn’t in pain but care needs to be taken to ensure his comfort. Warm clothing in winter is a must and care must be taken to keep his exposed skin in good condition with regular bathing and oiling.
Black Skin Disease Pomeranian Vital Facts:
1. Poms don’t suffer pain, discomfort or itchiness from BSD / Black Skin Disease / Alopecia X, unlike other skin diseases.
2. You need to cover his exposed skin to guard against the weather and the heat from the sun. A soft sweater will help regulate his body temperature. He’ll burn easily and quickly if he goes out without sunscreen on. Let it sink into his skin for 15 minutes before taking him out.
3. A higher percentage of boy Pomeranians suffer coat loss problems in comparison to female Poms.
4. There is no known single cause of the Pomeranian hair loss problem. At this stage there is no known cure, but your as a loving owner can do many things to prevent Pomeranian coat loss and assist your Pom to recoat.
5. The degree of hair loss varies in most cases of Pomeranian Hair Loss. Some Poms may loose all body hair, but will remain coated on their head and legs. While other Pomeranians may only experience extreme coat thinning on the tail and their butt area.
Blue Pomeranians and coat loss.
Is your Blue Pomeranian losing hair ? If your Pom has the blue gene and BSD, it’s called Blue Alopecia. This can also affect lavender dogs because that’s a diluted type of blue. He should still have the tests previously mentioned. Blue Alopecia is different. If his fur is blue, lavender or a mixed range of colors including white, the white bits stay the same and the colored parts of his fur will become thinner, change in texture, point out in different directions or it may completely fall out.
Stages of Black Skin Disease Pomeranian Hair Loss
RULE OUT OTHER CAUSES OF POMERANIAN COAT LOSS.
Even though it’s simple to observe the symptoms of BSD, it’s essential that you eliminate other possible causes.
Black Skin Disease Pomeranian Owners Should Take Their Dog to the Vet to Run These Tests:
A skin biopsy.
• A blood panel.
• Testing of his thyroid.
• Adrenal hormone tests.
• Thyroid testing
These tests will help your vet eliminate other possible causes including: mange, mites, allergies and other options.
Black Skin Disease in Pomeranians Treatment
Desex your Pomeranian
One method that isn’t guaranteed to always work, but often does work well, is for your vet to spay or neuter your dog if he should develop BSD. Researchers have said that BSD is connected to an imbalance in the dog’s sex hormone…but this theory is still being studied in greater detail. The most vital point is to never breed a dog who has BSD.
Black Skin Disease / Alopecia X BSD-affected Pomeranians should be removed from any breeding program.
Alopecia X sometimes resembles a sexual hormone imbalance, hence the label “castration responsive alopecia.” You need to start by spaying female unspayed dogs and neutering intact male dogs. Sterilisation has various health benefits, whether the dog has lost hair or not. A lot of dogs will regain their hair (but that may not be permanent) so this is the first place to begin. It’s wiser than investing in confusing, complicated diagnostics.
The Two Most Important Changes to Implement to Treat Pomeranian Hair Loss:
- Change your Pomeranian to a home-cooked diet, or a raw diet.
- Bath your Pomeranian, completely dry and apply an oil to his bare skin 2 or 3 times weekly.
Feed your Alopecia X Pomeranian Home Cooked Food.
A complete change of diet will often help BSD- affected Pomeranians. Avoid all bought dog food and only feed fresh him nutritious home cooked meals. Supplement this diet with a couple of tablespoons of tinned salmon, two or three times per week. Add Coconut Oil to his meals daily and it may also be used on the exposed skin areas.Bathing your Pomeranian.
Change your Pomeranian’s Bathing Routine.
Bathing your Pomeranian as often possible can help improve this condition. Black Skin Disease Pomeranians appear to have dry skin blocking the skin pores.
Any shampoo is suitable for this task. Scrub the exposed skin using an exfoliating mitt until the skin appears a healthy pink color. You might discover a grey film, this is dead, dry skin which is blocking the pores. The dry skin needs to be removed by bathing and exfoliating on a regular basis. Ensure your dog is completely dry and then apply oil to affected areas.
The bathing regime may possibly take up to 6 months to produce results. Many Pomeranians have successfully regrown full coats following this routine and the use of products advertised on this site.
Melatonin can also help sometimes. It’s an oral medication that’s not harmful so why not try it? You can buy melatonin tablets at the majority of health food shops or places where vitamins are sold. 30% of dogs will usually show a response within approx. 6-8 weeks.
Pomeranian Melatonin Dosage:
The dosage for most Pomeranians is 1 mg Melatonin, given twice daily. If Melatonin is given only once daily it is recommended to be given to your Pomeranian in the evening.
Give your dog this supplement for 2 – 3 months before assessing if it works for him, if his fur starts to grow back and then you keep giving it to him until the rate of hair growth begins to plateau. Then you slowly reduce the dose over a couple of months until you no longer need to use it. Sometimes you can stop using it completely and at other times you may need to use it a second time.
But if the fur falls out again after you stop using it, it may mean the melatonin isn’t going to work as well this time around. Melatonin is a supplement, not a prescribed medication. This means the FDA doesn’t maintain the same level of quality as it does for prescriptions. Different brands can contain different amounts of melatonin and some brands are better than others.
Dermabrasion and Microdermabrasion.
Another BSD option is dermabrasion and microdermabrasion performed by a specialist Vet.
The Hormone Profile Of The University Of Tennessee
When researching effective therapies for Alopecia X, one possibility to consider is offered by the Tennessee University. It’s is called the “Adrenal Sex Hormone panel.” The experts do this particular test by first taking a baseline blood panel. Then a pituitary hormone (ACTH) is administered. An hour later, a second blood sample is drawn and used as a comparison.
The samples are sent to Tennessee to evaluate various adrenal sex hormones. The results of these tests will demonstrate which hormones react abnormally and the researchers in the university will suggest what therapies may work. Testing is expensive and the wait for the results could take a couple of weeks to come through but they may indicate the next step to take.
Treating an Adrenal Imbalance: Lysodren And Trilostane
Lysodren (also known as mitotane or o, p’-DDD) is usually selected to treat Cushing’s disease, where the adrenal gland produces too much cortisone-type hormones. Lysodren erodes the adrenal gland’s outer layers to control how much cortisone is produced.
If the adrenal gland becomes over-eroded, electrolyte imbalances can happen which may become being permanent (although you can treat them). The adrenal gland also creates sex hormones so Lysodren aids Alopecia X as it’s able to prevent the hormones being produced by eroding the section that creates them.
A Alopecia X Pomeranian may not have Cushing’s disease or excessive amounts of cortisone. Therefore, if you treat your dog with Lysodren, he may end up with a cortisone deficiency and/or the more serious issue – Addison’s disease, an adrenal gland deficiency.
Signs of a reaction to Lysodren may include: diarrhea, vomiting and listlessness. Your dog should have regular blood tests to manage the levels of cortisone while he’s on Lysodren.
Cushing’s disease can also be treated with Trilostane. It’s also handy for Alopecia X if he has adrenal gland hyperplasia. However, it’s critical to remember that this drug can also lead to a dangerously low level of adrenal steroids. It has been shown to help regrow hair in some cases, despite the potential risks.
There used to be a time when people believed this would cause a growth hormone deficiency. After all, the only effective way to use it is via an injection. The product is genetically engineered and, although sometimes unavailable commercially, it can be purchased through academic channels. Blood sugars need to be checked regularly as this medication can cause diabetes. If you use a six week course of the therapy, the positive results may last a couple of years.
There are a variety of other medications that can affect the adrenal hormones and there has been mixed results when used to treat an Alopecia X Pomeranian. These other choices include: cimetidine, leuprolide, anipryl, prednisone and ketoconazole.
Alopecia X is one of those conditions that causes immense frustration now and will continue to do so for many years. Studies continue and eventual progress will be made but it will certainly take a long time.
A vet hormone called Deslorelin prevents testosterone and estrogen production and vets commonly use it as a timing method for ovulating mares. The product is an implant and has been tested recently as a treatment for Alopecia X. During the first three-month period, three quarters of the male unfettered dogs had regrowth of hair. No such luck for spayed females. In the first full testing year, there weren’t any side effects so it may become a useful treatment for intact male dogs.
Detailed above are the present Black Skin / Alpoecia X treatment options. Patience is necessary, as the coat wont grown back immediately. As a caring Pom parent each option may necessiate exploring for a time period of 6 to 9 months. It is important to note some Pomeranians may regrow their coat, but may in the future have another bout of coat loss issues.
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References: Denise Leo, The Pomeranian Handbook.