If your dog has started to lose his or her hair, you may be feeling incredibly worried and anxious. Imagine how we would feel if clumps of hair started falling out. We would be horrified, right? We would start fretting about the reasons why our hair is falling out. The same sorts of feelings arise when we see our pet dog go through a similar scenario. As is the case with any sort of symptom, you need to get to the bottom of why your dog is losing hair. Only once you understand why your dog is losing hair can you then go onto rectifying the problem. So, with that being said, continue reading to discover more about the five common causes of hair loss in dogs.
What Are Some Of The Most Common Symptoms Of Alopecia In Dogs?
Before we take a look at the different reasons why your dog may be suffering from hair loss, it is important to note some of the most common characteristics symptoms and signs of alopecia in dogs. This includes the following:
- Redness of the skin
- Presence of lesions on the skin
- Scaling of the skin
- Crusting around the affected area
- Bald patches or circles
- Symmetrical/varied hair loss
Five Of The Most Common Causes Of Hair Loss In Dogs
There is only one place to begin, and this is with allergies. Allergies are one of the most common causes for hair loss in dogs. This can be due to a number of different triggers, for example, an environmental trigger such as dust mites, molds, and pollen. There are also parasitic triggers like mites and fleas. Some dogs have also experienced hair loss because of food allergies. If your dog is suffering an adverse allergic reaction, there are a number of different symptoms you should look out for. This not only includes the hair loss but also biting, and excess scratching that have been caused because of itchiness. Flea preventatives should be used in the case of flea allergies so that the threat of a full-blown flea infestation is minimized dramatically.
As mentioned, a mite infestation can be one of the allergies that causes hair loss, and this is because it can result in mange. If your dog is losing hair on tail, mange is one of the most probable causes. Mange tends to manifest in hair loss around the dog’s tail or on it. A dog with mange will also usually be chewing the affected area because it is so itchy. There are two different types of mange. The first is sarcoptic mange, which is caused due to a specific mite. This is the most severe form of the condition because it can result in severe skin irritation and itching, as it spreads to your pet’s entire body. You need to see a vet as soon as possible if your pet is suffering from sarcoptic mange. Your vet will do a microscopic examination or take a skin scraping to determine the condition. A chemical dip will then be utilized to kill the mites. The other type of mange you need to be aware of is demodectic mange, which tends to be found in dogs and puppies with weak immune systems. Where the hair has been lost, you are likely to see sores and scabs on your dog’s skin. For adult dogs with this condition, you need to take your dog to the vet. However, for puppies, there is a chance your dog will recover from mange on its own.
In addition to allergies, another reason why you may have noticed dog bald spots is because of pressure sores. These can also be referred to as decubital ulcers or bedsores. This is an injury that is localized, and it happens because of the dog’s bony pressure points, such as elbows, hocks, and hips, and have come into regular contact with hard surfaces. This continual friction and pressure result in the skin bleeding, cracking, losing hair, and becoming callus. Older dogs tend to experience pressure sores, and this is more common in heavy and large dog breeds. If this is the cause of hair loss in your dog, it is likely that your vet will provide a moisturizer that will assist if the callused skin starts to crack, bleed or form an infection.
You may be surprised to learn that the reason why your dog is suffering from hair loss could simply come down to the breed of dog that it is. This is because some dogs are more genetically prone to alopecia than others. There are some dogs that have been bred for the attribute, i.e. hairless dogs. Examples include the American Hairless Terrier, Mexican Hairless (Xolo), and Chinese Crested Terrier. However. There are then other breeds of dog that can sometimes experience pattern or patchy baldness on the lower neck, thigh, back, chest, or outer ear. Examples include the Whippet, Italian Greyhound, Chihuahua, Dachshund, and Doberman Pinscher.
Cushing’s disease is also referred to medically as hyperadrenocorticism. This is a condition that arises as a consequence of extended exposure of the body’s tissue to high levels of the hormone cortisol. There are a number of different symptoms that may occur because of Cushing’s disease. Of course, this includes hair loss, but it also includes the development of a pot-bellied abdomen and darkening of the skin. This disease can impact pets that have used too many corticosteroid drugs, as well as older dogs, i.e. those that are middle-aged to senior dogs.
What sort of symptoms should you be looking out for if you suspect your dog has Cushing’s disease?
- Restlessness or irritability
- Abdominal weight gain, despite your dog not eating as much calories as usual
- Change of skin color from pink to black or grey
- Thinning skin
- Increased panting
- Increased urination and thirst, which can cause incontinence
Another reason why dogs may suffer from hair loss is because they have an infestation or an infection. Canine alopecia can often be caused due to parasite infestations, with the likes of mites, ticks, and fleas being the common culprit. If your dog has an infestation of this nature, you will notice hair loss around the chest abdomen, eyes, and ears. Other symptoms you should look out for include redness, itching, and inflammation. When it comes to fungal and bacterial infections, such as ringworm, you will not only notice hair loss of any irregular nature, but you should also pick up on infected crusts and inflammation too. In terms of treatment for ringworm, this really does depend on the severity of it. For this condition to be diagnosed correctly, skin biopsies and hair samples will probably be necessary. Moreover, your dog may be given a cone-shaped collar to stop it from licking or biting the areas that are infected.
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So there you have it: an insight into five of the most common causes for excessive hair loss in dogs. It is important to recognize that this list is not inclusive, and there are many different reasons why your dog may suffer from hair loss. For example, another reason why dogs experience this condition is because of thyroid issues. If your dog’s thyroid gland does not function correctly, this can cause hair loss. There are a number of breeds that are more prone to hypothyroidism, and so it is important to keep this in mind. Examples include Boxers, Irish setters, Cocker Spaniels, Rottweiler’s, Dachshunds, Labrador Retrievers, and golden retrievers. From trauma to hormonal imbalance, there are plenty of reasons that go beyond the five most common forms of dog hair loss that have been mentioned.
Of course, stress is an important one to touch upon. As humans, we have all been stressed from time to time, and we all know the massive impact this can have on our lives. After all, how often have you been stressed and then come down with an illness as a consequence? Dogs go through a similar thing. If your dog is stressed or has come from an abusive background, this could be why he or she is suffering from hair loss. The same applies for psychological or behavioral disorders, for example, separation anxiety.
So, How Do You Treat Dog Hair Loss?
As mentioned in the introduction, the treatment you require for your dog will depend on the reason why your dog is suffering from hair loss in the first place. This is why taking your dog to see a vet comes highly recommended. But what sort of things may your vet recommend in terms of curing the hair loss? Let’s take a look at four of the most common treatment suggestions.
- Use hydrocortisone sprays and shampoos – One of the approaches you can use to soothe itchy skin and treat excessive licking is by bathing your dog with a shampoo that contains hydrocortisone. Make sure the shampoo is dog specific. There are a number of reasons why you should not use human shampoo on dogs. This includes the following:
- Human shampoos are not tailored to dog fur
- Your dog’s skin can itch and become more sensitive
- Some human shampoos have artificial substances and colors
- It upsets your dog’s skin’s pH balance
Why does the shampoo need to contain hydrocortisone? This is because it can promote speedy healing and calm irritated skin.
Take a look at some of our canine shampoo guides, such as Best Dog Shampoo for Dandruff, Best Medicated Dog Shampoo, and Best Dog Shampoo for Puppies.
- Undergo a hormone treatment
Another solution that may be offered up is to give your dog a hormone treatment. This is because a hormone imbalance can be one of the reasons for hair loss. Such supplements may not only help to prevent hair loss in the future but they can even help your dog’s hair to regrow. When you take your dog to the vet, he or she will be able to carry out a number of different tests to figure out whether or not hormone treatment would assist with the problem.
- Change your dog’s diet
If the hair loss your dog has been experiencing has been attributed to a food allergy, you will be advised to change the diet your dog has. Of course, the first place to start in this regard is by eliminating the food that your dog is allergic too. Some of the most common food allergies that dogs experience include eggs, soy, corn, wheat, and even chicken or beef. Your vet may also advise that your dog takes supplements like melatonin that will help your dog’s hair to regrow.
- Use antibiotics
Of course, another treatment route that is very common is for your dog to go on a prescribed dose of antibiotics. If your dog is suffering from some form of infection that is causing it to lose hair, your vet will be able to prescribe the right sort of treatment to combat this. Furthermore, your vet may need to remove any linked tumors or nodules that are contributing to the loss of hair, as well as using antibiotics to treat your dog alongside other medications for the illness in question.
No matter the reason for your dog suffering from hair loss, the best thing to do is book an appointment with your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to professionally diagnose why your dog is experiencing hair loss, as well as giving you the right advice and medication to make sure that your dog recovers as quickly and healthily as possible.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.