Various factors could contribute to your dog losing their hair, from common issues like allergies and seasonal shedding to more serious conditions like alopecia. Our vets in Jackson discuss the underlying causes of hair loss in dogs and give you some tips and how to keep your dog's coat healthy.
What Causes Hair Loss in Dogs?
We will explore various factors that may cause dogs to experience patchy hair loss or excessive shedding. These factors include seasonal shedding, bacterial infections, mange, food sensitivities, and various medical conditions. We'll go over each of these below:
Brushing your dog twice a week is an effective way to minimize and control excess hair. Dogs naturally shed their fur as part of the aging process, or it can also be in response to temperature changes. Breeds like Huskies and Labradors possess dense winter undercoats, which they shed during the spring. You'll likely notice reduced seasonal shedding if you live in a temperate region.
Dogs, like humans, are susceptible to bacterial or fungal skin diseases. Candida infections, commonly called Yeast infections, for example, occur when the naturally present yeast on a dog's skin experiences an overgrowth. Ringworm, also, is a fungal infection characterized by dry skin and the formation of circular patches of hair loss in dogs accompanied by damaged hair.
Mange is a skin condition characterized by itching and caused by mites, which are tiny creatures living on the skin's surface or in hair follicles. Certain mites, like the scabies mite, can be highly contagious to both humans and other dogs. If you see mites or fleas on your dog, consult your veterinarian for a prescription for an appropriate antiparasitic treatment.
Much like humans, dogs can have allergies. Allergies typically manifest through symptoms like itchy skin and hair loss. The primary culprits for canine allergies are environmental factors, including irritants like pollen, mold, dust mites, and fleas.
Food sensitivities could also be a potential cause of hair loss in dogs. It's important to note that identifying dietary allergies in dogs requires a minimum of eight weeks of careful food trials.
Other Medical Conditions
Other factors, such as stress, inadequate diet, pregnancy, nursing, or underlying medical conditions such as hormonal imbalance and parasites, can lead to excessive shedding in dogs. If a dog is experiencing hair loss, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian. The recommended treatment for addressing your pet's hair loss will be tailored to treat the underlying condition.
Alopecia is a commonly encountered condition characterized by either thinning hair or the development of bald spots. It differs from regular shedding, which is a natural aspect of your dog's hair growth cycle, and can vary based on the breed.
Symptoms and Causes of Alopecia
Depending on the cause of alopecia, symptoms can include:
- Mild to severe scratching
- Skin that is red, inflamed, thickened, oozing, bleeding, foul-smelling or pigmented
- Papules, more commonly known as skin legions, which are a raised area of skin and different in color and texture than the skin around them.
Likewise, there are numerous causes of alopecia, which include:
- Mosquitos and bug bites
- Skin infections and allergies
- Genetic predispositions
- Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus
- Endocrine diseases, such as adrenal insufficiency, hyperthyroidism, or Cushing's disease
- Environmental causes
- Nutritional causes
Breeds Susceptible to Alopecia
Dog breeds predisposed to alopecia include Mexican Hairless, Chinese Crested, Bulldogs, Dobermans, Yorkshire Terriers, Dachshunds, Greyhounds, Siberian Huskies, Pomeranians, Golden and Labrador Retrievers, and West Highland White Terriers.
Further, any breed that was bred poorly is at risk for mange.
How to Help Keep Your Dog's Skin and Coat Healthy
Maintaining a vibrant and resilient coat for your dog is crucial for their overall well-being. Achieve optimal skin and coat health with these essential tips.
Provide balanced nutrition, groom regularly, ensure proper hydration, schedule routine vet check-ups, prevent parasites, and engage in regular exercise. By staying proactive, you'll guarantee your furry friend enjoys healthy and vibrant skin and coat throughout their life.
How to Stop Hair Loss in Dogs
Ensuring a flea-free environment, eliminating the possibility of mange, and maintaining a serene environment for your dog are essential steps in preventing hair loss. You should assess the quality of your dog's food and consider a switch to hypoallergenic options if symptoms of hair loss persist.
If you don't notice any improvement, seek professional help from your veterinarian to rule out more severe conditions.
Alternatively, reach out to our dermatology team in Jackson. They specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of skin conditions in both cats and dogs.
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.