ASK THE VET.
Byline: With Rory Thomson
Q: My five-month-old female Staffordshire bull terrier dog has hardly got any hair. I was told it could be ticks. She had a full hair coat 3 months ago. The vet said it came from her mother and my other girl can't catch it but my other one is starting to look the same. What do you think? JUDE DITCHBURN, Gateshead A: The description given does not sound like ticks. You would be able to see a tick on the skin as a lump and on closer examination you may even see the legs. The ticks would also have probably dropped off by now if they were present.
The most common cause of contagious hair loss in this way is likely to be flea infestation so I would certainly ensure that all pets are up to date with effective routine flea prevention treatments.
There is a parasite that is caught from the mother and passes onto the puppies while they are suckling. It is called demodex.
According to the textbooks this mite is transmitted only during suckling and there is no evidence that the mites are contracted any other way; however I have had one or two cases where I have been suspicious of disease 'spread' when in contact, animals have been exposed to a high environmental load of demodex.
It is certainly worth getting both dogs examined by your veterinary surgeon. A skin scrape should also be considered to eliminate demodex mites as a possibility as that can be quite tricky to get rid of and treatment of other causes will make this parasite worse if present. There are some newer prescription flea treatments that have evidence of efficacy to this mite (although not licensed for this purpose) so if flea treatment is due, veterinary discussion would be appropriate.
Please note that advice in this section is for general guidance, and if your pet is very unwell you should contact your veterinary surgeon as soon as possible as this advice does not replace the need for a clinical examination of your pet.
Rory Thomson is part of the team at St Clair Veterinary Care in Croft Road, Blyth. If you have a question, fill out the online form at chroniclelive.co.uk/askthevet