How to Diagnose Adrenal Gland Disease in Pomeranians
Pomeranians are a breed that are especially prone to baldness problems. While your dog may have other adrenal gland diseases, such as Cushing's Disease or Addison's Disease, Alopecia X is the most common condition that affects Pomeranians. Adrenal gland disease goes by a variety of names, such as Alopecia X, Black Skin Disease, and Growth Hormone Responsive Dermatosis, among others. Adrenal gland disease is a puzzling condition, and vets are not really sure of the cause. There are ways to diagnose if your dog has this condition.
1. Watch for odd patches of fur. One of the first signs of adrenal gland disease is patches of hair that look different than the rest of the coat. These patches will contain hair that is short and oddly textured, like wool.
2. Look for symmetrical hair loss. When a dog has adrenal gland disease, the Pomeranian sheds her fur right down to the skin and the fur doesn't regrow. The fur loss is in a symmetrical pattern so the hair loss on the left of the body mirrors that on the right.
- Hair loss usually occurs on the trunk and back thighs, and not on the head or front legs.
3. Watch for dark patches of skin. When the dog loses her hair, the exposed skin often becomes hyperpigmented. This means that the skin changes from a regular pink or beige color into a dark brown or black color. Additionally, the skin is often dry and scaly.
4. Be alert for any lack of hair growth. Another way you know your Pomeranian has this condition is that hair does not regrow after it has been clipped or shaved.
5. Know that this condition can affect any dog. Pomeranians of any age or sex can be affected. This means that through your dog’s entire life, you need to watch for signs of this condition.
- Although a dog can get this condition any time, the dog is healthy otherwise even if she does start to show the symptoms.
Diagnosing the Disease
1. Be aware of an unspecific diagnosis. The problem with diagnosing adrenal gland disease is that vets aren't sure why it occurs in the first place. This makes it impossible to develop a single test that gives a definitive answer as whether baldness is specifically due adrenal gland disease or some other problem.
2. Take your dog to the vet. The vet has to rule out all other problems which could cause hair loss. This means conducting an extensive array of tests searching for specific conditions, which can then be confirmed or crossed off the list. Once all these tests are done, and if they all come back negative, then the condition is likely to be adrenal gland disease.
- Adrenal gland disease is a diagnosis of exclusion, which means all other possible causes of hair loss have to be crossed off the list in order to diagnose the condition.
- Many of the symptoms of adrenal gland disease, like hair loss, can be due to more serious diseases, such as Cushing's Disease. Alopecia X is not life threatening, but other adrenal gland diseases can be serious if left untreated. This is why taking your dog to the vet is so important.
3. Have multiple tests run. The vet may want to run some or all of the following tests, which will prove or rule out other conditions which may be similar to adrenal gland disease. The tests include:
- Thyroid blood test
- Adrenal hormone test
- A urinalysis
- Abdominal ultrasound
- Skin scrapes
- Skin biopsy
- Screening blood tests
4. Notice the effects of this disease. When your dog gets this condition, know that it is a cosmetic condition. Your dog will not be in any pain. If your vet has ruled out any other underlying condition, then your dog can live a happy life with the condition.
5. Find the proper treatment. Most treatments for Alopecia X focus on helping the dog grow the coat back, but they are trial and error. Many adrenal gland problems are caused by hormonal imbalances, so dogs may be spayed or neutered. If this is not an option, melatonin therapy may be suggested.
- Other treatment options may be available if these don't work. However, they can cause adverse reactions, so the adverse health effects need to be considered next to the cosmetic benefits.