Alopecia in dogs can affect all races and genders at any stage of their life. It’s a fairly common condition and can appear as either partial or total hair loss, but it can also affect your dog’s skin, endocrine system, lymphatic system, and immune system.
It can be alarming when your dog loses hair as it can be very noticeable, especially if you have a long-haired pet that is usually silky smooth. Fortunately, dog alopecia is usually very treatable, and a visit to the vet should help pinpoint the root of the problem and allow you to find an appropriate treatment to get your dog back to his usual, beautiful self.
Causes of Hair Loss in Dogs
Alopecia in dogs can result from a number of skin conditions, and cases can range from gradual to acute. The most common causes of hair loss in dogs are:
- Mange, an event caused by the “Demodex” mite
- A disorder in the growth of hair follicles caused by trauma, infection, immune disease, or abnormalities in the endocrine system
- Inflammation of the hair follicles
- Allergic reactions: This could be due to food or objects around your dog
- Diet and feeding: Poor diet can often lead to hair loss in dogs
- Parasites and fleas: These can be very itchy, and you may find your dog shedding hair around its lower back, inner thighs, neck, and ears
- Bacterial skin infections or hot spots
- Ringworm: If the cause is ringworm, it usually shows up as circular patches of scaly, red, hairless patches
- Overgrooming: Grooming is obviously normal, but sometimes dogs do this excessively due to stress or pain
- Seasonal alopecia: Some dogs may experience hair loss every fall and regrowth can take about 6 to 12 months. This type is most common in boxers, bulldogs, Dobermans, and Staffordshire bull terriers
- Inherited: Alopecia in dogs can be inherited if your dog’s father’s mother suffers from it
More prevalent hair loss in your dog’s coat may indicate a more specific disease. As such, it is always important to see your veterinarian as soon as you suspect your dog is losing its coat.
Symptoms of alopecia in dogs
If you notice your dog is losing hair, it could be a symptom of alopecia in itself, but there are some other signs that can also appear:
- Brittle or dry fur
- Shedding more than usual
- Bald spots on your dog
- Crusting, inflammation, or red spots in the area of the hair loss
- Flaky skin may be present
- Itchy skin
- Patches of dark skin
Diagnosing hair loss in dogs
Your veterinarian must investigate the cause of the alopecia before starting treatment. Fleas are a common cause of itching and scratching, which can lead to hair loss. Hence, they may recommend flea treatment.
Your vet can also take hair samples or scrape off a small sample of skin (painlessly) to test for ringworm and parasites, or a blood sample to see if there is an underlying condition, such as a hormonal problem. Sometimes a skin allergy test is done and occasionally a small sample of skin is taken. This is done under anesthesia so that your dog does not feel anything.
If your vet can’t identify the cause of your dog’s bald patches, they may recommend seeing a dog dermatologist.
Treatment of canine alopecia
The treatment your dog needs will depend on the cause of the hair loss, which may be due to a number of dog skin conditions. Make sure you speak to your veterinarian to get the correct diagnosis.
All dogs should receive regular flea control treatments. However, your veterinarian may recommend other treatments if they believe another cause is at fault, such as B. an antifungal treatment for ringworm. Some causes of hair loss, like allergic skin conditions and other canine skin conditions, can be difficult to treat, but a veterinary dermatologist can give you all the advice you need. Other causes, such as hormonal disorders like hypothyroidism or adrenal problems, may require longer-term treatment.
Speak to your veterinarian as soon as you suspect your pet may have canine alopecia. The sooner you can get a diagnosis, the sooner your pet can return to successful treatment and become happy and healthy.
Hopefully, you have found a possible answer to why your dog is losing hair.