Cherry’s Story

December 2008. I noticed that Cherry my five year old black Labrador was loosing fur around her eyes and had a crusty appearance to her skin. A visit to the vets and she was diagnosed with Demodectic mange. She was given antibiotics for the infection and four weekly doses of Advocate to rid her of the mites.

On getting home I did some research and thought why has she got this problem? Although these mites are on dog’s skin they only go into overdrive when there is an underlying problem but in Cherry’s case what? She seemed to be her normal incredibly fit and healthy self.

Just before Christmas the fur around Cherry’s eyes seemed to be turning white and she was developing patches on her back legs that were white. A further visit to the vet. Blood tests were done and they came back with a slightly raised liver enzyme but nothing to worry about as she had recently had an upset stomach. The scrapping from a front leg revealed that she didn’t have ringworm. As I feel she may be a little rundown I speak to my vet about building her up. She has a meal of James Wellbeloved white fish and rice twice a day to which I add one sardine in oil per day. I am now also giving a teaspoon of SA37 vitamin and mineral supplement and a dessertspoon of bio yoghurt as she has been on antibiotics for a while now. Cherry being a Labrador doesn’t object to these additions to her dinner. As the days and weeks went on she became more and more grey. The black pigment on her nose and around her mouth is now pink. Her once black pads are also now pink.
Why is my once stunningly black Labrador turning grey in front of my eyes?

Beginning of February I ask my vet for a referral to a specialist dermatologist. Finally the appointment is made and off we go to the specialist. Cherry is checked over and her medical history given in detail. He examines a scrapping of fur from around her eyes but cannot see any mites under the microscope. The specialist explains that he has seen one other Labrador with this condition. Cherry has Vitiligo possibly triggered by the Demodectic mange or the Sarcoptic mange she had back in August 2008. As well as loss of pigment in her coat and on her nose and paws he points out that one of her claws is also loosing its black colour.

He tells us that Cherry will probably always be grey. I point out that she has some black freckles on her once completely pink nose. He doesn’t comment. He puts Cherry on a high dose of antibiotics for three weeks to get rid of the bacterial infection she still has around her eyes. The worrying thing is that the two other areas where melanin is produced are the eyes and ears. We now have to hope that melanin continues to be produced in these areas otherwise she could loose her hearing and eye sight. It is now important that we see an veterinary ophthalmist as soon as possible to have Cherry’s eyes checked.

The following week and we are seeing the eye specialist. She checks Cherry’s eyes out very thoroughly and asks heaps more questions. At this moment her eyes are fine. We will be taking her back in three months time to have them rechecked.

As I speak Cherry sleeps on her bed at my feet completely unaware that anything is wrong. She enjoyed a lovely run in our local countryside today and retrieved her gundog dummy with her normal enthusiasm as she does every day. She is now black and very grey all over her body except for her ears and her tail although if you part the fur on these two areas you can see grey underneath. She has a circular area around each eye where the fur is a very light grey giving her the appearance of wearing goggles. Her nose and skin around her mouth is pink with slightly larger areas of black pigmentation.