Dog ate chocolate?

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Species: Dog
Breed: Chocolate lab
Age: 5-8 years
We have a 101 lbs. 7-year-old purebred Chocolate lab that has small to medium circles on her belly and trunk that first get raw then scab with flakey scales that cause her hair to fall out with them (they don't appear to itch). On top on that she has a grapefruit sized lump on her check plate, and just above that, the entire front of her neck is intermittently raw, wet, red wound. Her eyes and ears have begun to have a yellowish film/goo in them and she's been sleeping a lot, but still eats normally without sickness from either end. Now, if we mention a ball, truck ride, or treat she still acts like she won the lotto, but otherwise...sleep. The vet today paid no mind to the mass on her chest, and mentioned she might have hypothyroidism and a bacteria infection on her skin that has been treated prior with the same thing she gave her again today. When I read up on it, I saw nothing relative to Harly to hypothyroidism, but the rest of the symptoms popped up negative health issues. Any ideas or advice? Should we seek a second opinion? We've grown very worried about her.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I love your description of how Harly occasionally acts like she won the lotto. That is so typical of a lab to act like a wing nut even when not feeling well. :)

What you have described on Harly's belly with flakey scales sounds really typical of a bacterial skin infection. If this is the case, then usually a long course of oral antibiotics is necessary. If it has returned then it may mean that she needs a longer course this time. Often 6-8 weeks is needed.

You have mentioned several symptoms that fit with hypothyroidism:
-Recurring skin infections are common with hypothyroid dogs. Often we can see ear and eye infections too.
-Hypothyroid dogs are usually overweight. If Harly is 101 pounds I am guessing she is overweight
-Hypothyroid dogs generally have low energy so that would explain the increase in how much she is sleeping.

Sometimes hypothyroid dogs will have a reduction in appetite but with labs, that may not always be the case as they love to eat!

I see lots of hypothyroidism in labs.

Regarding a chest mass, it's hard to say what it could be without examining it, but it would be hard to tie in her symptoms with the mass. The most common reason would be a lipoma which is a fat lump and nothing to worry about. But, if you are worried there is no harm in having the vet test it. I'd be very surprised if it was something serious though.

If this were my case I would be recommending doing a thyroid profile. A simple T4 blood test will not be enough because the skin infection can cause a T4 value to be artificially lowered. But, a thyroid profile will allow the vet to determine if this is what she has. If so, hypothyroidism is treated usually quite easily with medication but unfortunately it is medication she will need to be on for the rest of her life.

If the thyroid profile came back as normal then I would likely do a very long course of antibiotics and look into allergy issues. But, I think underlying thyroid problems are much more likely.

I hope things improve soon!

Dr. Marie

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Dr. Marie,

Thank you for your response. Since you wrote we've had her on a run of anti-biotics.. We've seen no improvement, and the scaley spots are increasingly worse. Now she is growing two oblong masses just toward of her hips on either side. The left side is slightly larger than the right. She's been eating only a cup and a half of food per day as the vet suggested, and we've cut her treats to almost none.

She is overweight; however, you can still see her ribs and her tummy still tucks under, but not a lot.

We will be having the lump aspirated next time we go as well.

Should we be alarmed by the lack of response and two newer masses?

Thank you again,
Misty Reinecke

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hmmm...I can't really connect the masses and the skin problems. The fact that she doesn't want to eat much and has a slow to heal skin infection REALLY sounds like hypothyroidism.

Did you have her thyroid tested yet?

Customer reply:

I'm sorry for the confusion. The vet has her on the cup and a half a day diet that's why she's only eating that much.

We are in the process if finding a new vet now to have tests done.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Ah, I see. I will be surprised if she is not hypothyroid.

Customer reply:

I'd rather hear that dx over the scarier ones. She's too young to call it a day yet!
Thanks again for the help!

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.