Since I posted about the grey patches on Hannah’s thighs, I have been surprised to discover that this is not an uncommon symptom. Quite a few people have now landed on this blog as a result of trying to find answers to a similar problem. So I thought I’d post a little more about how things are going.
I still have no clue as to what is going on or why, but the black is growing back in on each thigh, and I am relieved. I have made two changes, which may or may not have contributed to this: diet change and homeopathic treatment. I will discuss each in turn.
I am still doubtful that the problem is hypothyroidism, although I still plan to do a blood test to be sure. I will actually do a full CBC as well as a thyroid check through Jean Dodd’s blood clinic as, if nothing else, it will serve as a good baseline for future reference.
In the research I have done, one of the things that came up for “black hairs falling out” was the autoimmune condition of “black hair follicular dysplasia.” From what I’ve read, this is a non-life threatening condition in which the dog eventually permanently loses all black hairs. The websites comment that the hair can grow back and fall out in cycles, but eventually the dog will turn grey and stay that way. I certainly hope that is not what I am dealing with! It seems to me that this is a pretty rare condition, so I am going to assume that it is not.
I did notice that Hannah has been scratching and chewing her grey patches quite a bit, so itchy skin seems to be most likely behind her hair loss. This leads to a very different picture. Any and all skin problems are linked to an imbalance of the life-force and so it is important to try and determine what that is and treat the body as a whole, not merely the symptom. The skin is the life-force’s window, and the way in which it expels toxins (along with urine, feces, eye, ear and nose discharges and vomiting).
While the conventional approach would be to encourage suppression of the itch (or any of the aforementioned means of expelling toxins), suppressive treatments such as antihistamines, anti-biotics, steroids, NSAIDs and the like close that window, trapping the disease in the body and prevent the life force from returning to balance. As such, they must be avoided at all costs except in life and death situations.
When I trouble shoot my dogs’ health, I look at the whole picture as much as possible. My first questions are always: “Has the dog been exposed to anything new in its environment? And “Are his or her nutritional needs being met?” The answer to question number one is seasonal change and it’s accompanying life pattern changes (less time outside, less natural light, less exercise, more cold, dryer air etc.).
The second question made me consider what I was feeding her. Every dog is an individual and as such, what works for one will not necessarily work for all others. I have been feeding a lot of venison lately – a supposedly very species specific food. Venison, however, is a very lean meat and it occurred to me that Hannah may need to eat something with more fat in the winter. She is a very chilly dog, and a lean and muscular one at that, and as such might do better with a little more fat in her diet this time of year. So I am feeding her more pork and other fattier meats.
The other thing I did was some research on homeopathy. I identified the homeopathic remedy Rhus Toxicodendron as being a potentially good match. It is very important to recognize that each individual will present a different collection of symptoms, and as such, a remedy that helps one will not necessarily help the other. Each individual must be evaluated independently. In other words, if your dog is presenting with similar conditions, please consult with a professional homeopath to find the right fit for your dog. Don’t just run out and try this remedy! I am only naming it here because I want to explain why I chose it.
First, I determined Rhus to be the best possible fit after reading through a number of other potential remedies identified by Kent’s Repertory for her collection of symptoms. I always thought of Rhus as a remedy for sprains, and was wondering if it really would help with itch. Well, it turns out that Rhus Toxicodendron is the official name for poison ivy! So clearly itch related. I was immediately curious to find out more. As I read, it discussed how poison ivy is most potent when the sun is not shining, so at night, or in the shade. It would also mean that the condition would be more prevalent in winter, which is the only time that Hannah has shown this problem.
Interestingly I had wondered if a lack of sunlight was behind Hannah’s skin problems, but I was thinking more in the conventional terms of vitamin deficiencies, and not in terms of general life-force state. I have so, so much yet to learn! In very brief, and as I only marginally understand it, as our life-force is subjected to any number of inputs and stresses, we take on different states of balance (or imbalance) that can each be represented by some element found in nature: plant, animal, mineral. There are several thousand to choose from, so finding the right match is not easy. But if it can be found, then administering a tiny dose of the energy from that element (i.e. through homeopathy) the life-force can move back toward balance.
I gave Hannah a dose of Rhus and within 3 days noticed a return of the black hairs. It has been nearly a week now and you can hardly see her grey patches anymore, which had been as large as my hand on each thigh. She’s still a bit itchy though, so that problem has not been completely resolved. But at least we seem to have made a step in the right direction. I have identified a couple of other remedies that might fit if Rhus doesn’t do the trick. But I need to give it more time to work. Fingers crossed!