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Q. My 8 month old puppy is chewing off her hair. She does not chew to the point of raw skin, only the hair. Any ideas?

A. I'd agree with the answer below, and I'd add that with a puppy as young as yours the most common cause of chewing is external parasites and fungal disease. It's important to realize that almost always, chewing is caused by being itchy. It's essentially a way that dogs scratch.

The first thing to do is to rule out parasites. Even if you don't see fleas, treat her for fleas. Use a good product like Frontline - it's easy to apply (avoid the hairless areas, it should be placed between the shoulderblades. You should also consider that your dog might be getting bitten by mosquitos - a common problem in thin-skinned dogs, and depending on where you live they can still be a problem this time of year.

Your vet also needs to perform a scraping of the skin to rule out mites. And again...even if no mites are found, I would recommend treating for them. They are almost as common as fleas in puppies, and depending on her recent situation (rescued from a shelter?) stress can depress the immune system and cause a mite infestation to take hold.

And finally, ringworm, which is actually a fungal disease, should be ruled out. It's also almost universally related to conditions, like overcrowded shelters, but it does happen and puppies are more susceptible.

One more note: allergies are possible, but other things are probably more likely at this point. If your vet doesn't know what to do, I would recommend looking for someone who does.

Answered By
DR. CHRISTIE LONG, D.V.M., C.V.A.

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A. Excessive chewing can be caused by fleas, allergies, mange, skin infections, etc. I would highly recommend having your puppy seen by a veterinarian to determine what the cause is. Treatments vary depending on the type of skin issue she is having. They can perform a skin scraping if needed to look for mites or other infectious agents.

Answered By
PAULA SIMONS

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