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Hair Loss in Dogs & What To Do

Patchy hair loss, bald patches, or all-over thinning of the coat can occur in dogs for countless reasons, including allergies, seasonal shedding, or more severe conditions such as alopecia. Read on to learn more about dog hair loss and what to do.

Why is my dog losing their fur?

Fur loss is a common reason for dogs to be brought in to see our veterinarians at Veterinary Specialty Center of Tucson. There can be many reasons why your dog might have patches of hair loss. These include regular, seasonal shedding, mange, fleas or other kinds of mites, and even hormonal changes. Of course, there is also alopecia to be careful of too.

Seasonal Shedding

Brushing your dog twice a week can help eliminate and reduce unwanted hair. Dogs shed their fur as their hairs grow old or damaged, or when the temperature warms up. Huskies and Labradors, for example, have thick winter undercoats that they shed in the spring. If you reside in a temperate area, seasonal shedding is frequently decreased.

Bacterial Infections

Bacterial or fungal diseases can develop on the skin of canine companions (this is also true for people). Pyoderma is a term used to describe a bacterial skin infection, especially when the skin is red and pus-filled. Candida infections, often known as yeast infections, arise when the yeast that is constantly present on a dog's skin becomes overgrown. Ringworm, also known as tinea, is a fungal condition that causes dry skin and damaged hairs in round spots.

Mange

Mange is an uncomfortable, itchy skin condition caused by mites. Mites are microscopic organisms that dwell on the skin's surface or in hair follicles. Some mites, such as the scabies mite, are very contagious to humans and other dogs. If you discover mites or fleas on your dog, your veterinarian can prescribe an antiparasitic treatment.

Allergies

Dogs, like humans, can develop allergies, with the most common symptoms being itchy skin and hair loss. Environmental allergies to irritants such as pollen, mold, dust mites, flea allergies, and food allergies are the most frequent in dogs. However, be aware that dietary allergies typically require a minimum of eight weeks of food trials to reach a diagnosis.

Underlying Medical Conditions

Stress, poor diet, pregnancy, nursing, or any underlying medical condition can all contribute to excessive shedding. A dog who is losing hair should see a veterinarian, although his illness is generally treatable with a simple change in diet or medicine. The dog hair loss therapy they recommend will be based on your pet's other health requirements.

Alopecia

Alopecia is a relatively prevalent ailment. It refers to either thinning hair or patches of hair loss (bald spots). Alopecia is not the same as seasonal shedding. Shedding is a normal part of your dog's natural hair development cycle although the degree of seasonal shedding that occurs can vary greatly between one breed and another and even one dog and another.

Symptoms & Causes of Alopecia in Dogs

Depending on the cause of alopecia, symptoms can include:

  • Mild to severe scratching
  • Skin that is red, inflamed, thickened, oozing, bleeding, malodorous, or pigmented
  • Skin with papules

Likewise, there are numerous causes of alopecia, which include:

  • Ectoparasites and bug bites
  • Skin infections and allergies
  • Genetic predispositions
  • Autoimmune disorders Endocrine diseases
  • Environmental causes
  • Nutritional causes

Breeds Susceptible to Alopecia

Although any dog could develop alopecia, some dog breeds appear to be predisposed to developing the condition, including Mexican Hairless, Chinese Crested, Bulldogs, Dobermans, Yorkshire Terriers, Dachshunds, Greyhounds, Siberian Huskies, Pomeranians, Golden and Labrador Retrievers, and West Highland White Terriers.

It's also important to note that any dog subjected to poor husbandry practices (breeding and care), especially puppies, is at risk for mange.

Tips to Help Stop Dog Hair Loss

Checking for fleas in the house, ruling out mange, and providing a calm atmosphere for your dog may help prevent hair loss. You should also look at the type of dog food they're eating, and if the symptoms are minimal, you may want to look into hypoallergenic dog food options.

If you don't observe any improvement by implementing the strategies above, have your pup examined by a veterinary professional.

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.

At Veterinary Specialty Center of Tucson we provide specialist and emergency care for dogs in need.  Contact our Tucson vets today to learn more.

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Our board-certified critical care specialists and skilled emergency veterinarians are here for you and your pet. If your dog or cat needs emergency care, get in touch with us right away.

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