Bald Thigh Syndrome – A Treatment
By Jennifer Jensen
Bald thigh syndrome (BTS) affects a number of different lines of whippets
and, although not a health issue by any stretch of the imagination, it can
be a source of irritation to many owners.
As one such owner, I went on a quest to read more about BTS in the hopes of
having some positive impact on its appearance in my youngest whippet. In my
searches of the Internet, I came across the abstract for an interesting
sounding article, "Bald thigh syndrome of Greyhound dogs: gross and
microscopic findings" (Polly R. Schoning and Laine A. Cowan, Veterinary
Dermatology 2000, 11, 49-51).
The abstract read as follows:
"Bald thigh syndrome (BTS) [...] is characterized clinically and grossly by
bilateral hair loss on the lateral and caudal thighs. The cause of BTS is
unknown but may be associated with hypothyroidism or hyperadrenocorticism.
Samples of skin, thyroid glands, and adrenal glands from 43 Greyhound dogs
with BTS were examined microscopically. Microscopic changes were
characterized by dilatation of follicular infundibula, presence of catagen
follicles and epidermal hyperplasia. Changes in the skin from these
Greyhound dogs suggest and endrocrinopathy as the cause; however, we were
unable to confirm which one."
In reading the article in full, the authors note that dogs with BTS show
some symptoms of some sort of endocrinological problem, but not all
symptoms. BTS also meets the criteria for an acquired pattern balding.
All of that was of no help to me. I'd had my dog's thyroid tested and it was
normal. At this point, I wasn't looking for the cause of BTS but rather how
to deal with it. A few specific sentences in the article caught my
"The most prominent change was the presence of comedones. These dilated hair
follicular infundibula were filled with keratin and hair. Some degree of
follicular dilatation occurred in 80% of Greyhound dogs and 30% of those
dilated follicles contained hair."
After I looked up "comedone" in the dictionary (it means "blackhead"), I got
to thinking. If I stimulated skin and the oil flow, perhaps it would affect
the hair. With that in mind, I do three things:
1. Once a week, I use a horse grooming block (Slick n' Easy) on the dog to
remove any "undercoat". It's not a true "undercoat" but that term works fine
for my purposes. I suspect a hound glove would have the same effect as the
Slick n' Easy.
2. Every day, I brush the dog, using a cat Zoom Groom. It's made of softer
rubber than the dog ones. This includes "brushing" the area with thinner
coat (i.e., the thighs).
3. Once a day, I give the dog a fish oil capsule (with dinner).
It took a while (five or six weeks?) but, the next time he went through the
hair growth cycle, his fur grew in again. The fur in this area doesn't look
the same as the rest of his coat but it is fur!
The thing is, you must keep this up on a daily basis or the pores will get
clogged again and then the fur won't grow in during the next hair growth