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Have you ever seen a dog losing his hair completely? Or, is your pooch getting bald spots here and there? Do you know the reason behind the baldness?
This disorder in canines is termed as “Canine Alopecia”. It is common in dogs. It occurs as a result of genetics or underlying medical conditions such as hyper and hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease and Addison’s disease.
Causes of this disorder can be many. Infections from parasites, bacteria, and fungi are the major causes. Poor nutrition, hormonal imbalance, and poor blood supply can result in loss of hair in dogs.
It is essential to know about this condition and the ways to treat it. Let’s decode the complete information about alopecia in canines in this article.
What Is Alopecia In Dogs?
Hair loss or alopecia is a common disorder in canines. It may lead your dog to either lose hair in patches or experiencing complete hair loss.
The term “alopecia” refers to hair loss. But, failure in hair growth and coat defects are also reasons for coining this term. It is definitely a serious condition. It affects the skin and also the endocrine system, immune system, and the lymphatic system.
Dogs of any age and gender are prone to alopecia. Any dog breed may get this ailment. So, if you notice unusual hair loss in your dog, take him to your vet immediately.
Causes Of Dog Alopecia
Several factors can cause hair loss in canines. But, the actual cause can either be congenital or acquired.
The following reasons are considered the common causes of alopecia in canines.
Allergies are the common reason for skin infections and this will lead to alopecia. Dogs may get food allergies and contact allergies as well.
Contact allergies – Dogs will also get allergies just by walking through grass or from carpets or floors that are chemically treated.
Allergens: Pollens are the major allergens. Besides, perfumes and cigarette smoke may also add to the list of allergens. If your dog inhales any of these allergens, it will get allergies.
Itchy skin will also lead to scratching or chewing out the hair.
Your dog will also feel scratching and itching, in addition to hair loss, due to these parasites.
Next to parasites, bacteria are one of the major factors causing alopecia. In fact, bacteria are the common cause for multifocal alopecia (i.e. hair loss in multiple areas of your dog’s body).
Such kind of bacterial infections may also lead to crusting in skin, redness and hair loss in circular patterns.
Another major cause for partial or complete hair loss is the fungal infection. Fungi are the predominant factor for dermatophytosis or skin infections.
These infections will also cause redness and scaling in dogs.
Certain nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are helpful for hair growth. They help to remain the hair anchored in the skin.
For example, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids also contribute to hair growth. If your dog lacks any of these vitamins or nutrients, it may experience hair fall or alopecia in a severe case. This may lead to crusting in skin, redness and hair loss in circular patterns.
Hair usually anchors in the hair follicle and the blood nourishes this follicle. If your dog has poor blood circulation, hair growth will not be good.
Also, dogs having a weak heart, chronic anemia and low blood pressure will have dull skin and coat.
Symptoms Of Dog Alopecia
As a dog parent, you have to notice the signs and symptoms of alopecia. If your dog shows any signs of hair loss, check with your vet if these signs are actually the symptoms of alopecia.
So, we have provided here a few symptoms of hair loss and their representation of alopecia.
Hair Loss in Dogs and No Itching
If it loses hair without itching, it is an autoimmune disorder called “Alopecia Areata.” In such cases, your canine will have a sudden loss of hair with circular bald patches. And, you can see your pooch is losing its hair on the head, neck, and body.
Vets confirm this condition by microscopic examination of hairs or biopsy in a few cases. Your doggy’s hair will automatically regrow in a time span of 6 to 12 months but with a light color.
Dog Hair Loss and Itching
Sometimes, your dog may get itching and then lose its hair. It will be painful for your pooch and a headache for you. It may be either due to infections from scabies and fleas or from mange, a skin disease. Any allergic reactions from chemicals, plants, and food may cause alopecia. Trauma and hormonal imbalance also play roles in this disease.
When you notice this condition in your dog, first consult the vet for advice. The vet may prescribe antibiotics to treat redness in the skin. Your dog needs hormone treatments in cases of abnormal function of thyroid or adrenal glands.
Sprays, creams, and hydrocortisone shampoos may also be used to treat the itchy skin. They can also promote healing and you can apply the sprays directly onto the itchy area.
Dog Losing Hair on Tail
Have you ever seen a kind of baldness in your dog’s tail? Then, you must know the causes for it and the available treatments.
Fleas and allergies are the common cause of hair loss around the tail area of your doggy. Your dog will lose its tail hairs by scratching, licking, biting and rubbing the affected area. Hair loss on the tail may also occur due to tapeworms and high cortisol levels.
Dog Losing Hair on Belly
Hair loss on the belly occurs as a result of an allergic reaction to the grass pollen. Your dog may also lose its belly hair due to flea allergies and contact allergies.
Consult with the vet for advice and treatment for this condition in your pooch.
Dog Losing Hair In Patches And Scabs
If your dog loses hair in patches when the skin is sore or when there is no regrowth, it is an abnormal condition.
Sometimes hair loss will be in patches with skin lesions. Scabs may occur because of allergies, parasitic infections, and fungal infections. Hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease can also lead to this condition.
This condition can be diagnosed through physical examination. Vets prescribe fungal culture, bacterial culture, cytology, skin biopsy and other allergy tests. Many vets will prescribe medications to treat allergies.
Desensitization injections will help the canines to manage this condition to some degree. So, always consult the vet for advice.
Alopecia Treatment In Dogs
More options are available to treat alopecia in dogs. And with proper treatment, this condition will be resolved in dogs.
But, the treatment depends on the cause of this condition. Vets will prescribe medications according to the types of infections in your pooch.
Generally, this condition can be treated with antibiotics and topical shampoos. But for other issues, treatment will be given to addressing the hormonal levels. In cases of skin growth or cancer, surgical removal is required.
So, let’s look at the available medications to treat alopecia in canines.
- Monthly medications to cure hair loss of flea allergies
- Antibiotics (either topical or oral) to treat bacterial infections
- Antifungal (either oral or topical) medications to treat ringworm and yeast infections.
- Behavioral medications to avoid licking or chewing the affected area.
- Hormone therapy and thyroid medications for hair regrowth in dogs due to hormonal and endocrine disorders.
- Vets recommend Vitamin E, A, and fish oil supplements for dogs with dry skin or skin infections.
- Vets may prescribe hypoallergenic diets and the feeding times to cure hair loss of food allergies.
- Your vet may also recommend an Elizabethan collar (e-collar or cone). This is to prevent the pet from licking the affected site until it healed.
- Insulin therapy to cure hair loss associated with diabetes.
- Medicated shampoos or dips to treat hair loss occurring due to mange. Melatonin may also be used to treat hair loss in dogs.
- Anti-cytokine drugs or immunosuppressive drugs to control environmental allergies (i.e. grass pollens, etc.). These drugs may be recommended for a lifetime.
Although treatments are available for alopecia, hair loss may permanent in cases of genetics, scar, callous or pressure sores. Surgery may be required to remove sections of skin cancer or tumors.
Dog Hair Loss Home Remedies
You can treat hair loss in dogs with a few home remedies as well.
Brushing: It will distribute the natural oils on it and keeps the coat shiny and healthy.
Lemon Juice and apple cider vinegar: Both the acidic liquids help your pooch to fight against bacteria and restore the pH of areas affected with skin infections.
Eliminating allergens: You can prevent food allergies in your canines by not providing the allergic foods to it! For example, avoid giving corn, soy, and wheat to your dogs.
Humidifier: It will keep more moisture in the air and prevent the dry, itchy skin. It also soothes the dog’s skin.
Topical Olive Oil: It is suitable for your dog losing hair in patches. In such cases, applying a little amount of olive oil will moisturize the dry and rough skin. Ensure that your dog doesn’t sit on the good furniture immediately.
Omega Biotics: They are chewy, delicious treat that comes in bacon flavor that your dog loves. An easy to take a snack, you can give it to anytime your pooch needs it. These probiotics will avoid the flaky and dry skin in the canines.
Breeds Susceptible To Alopecia
As alopecia can affect any dog breed, a few dog breeds are naturally prone to this disease. Let’s look at such dog breeds.
For example, you can see slow hair growth after clipping in breeds such as Siberian Husky, Chow Chow, and Alaskan Malamute. Dachshunds usually have thinning hair over the neck, abdomen, and ears. Alopecia in Pomeranians is also common.
Hair loss from hypothyroidism – Afghan hound, Chow Chow, English Bulldog, Golden Retriever, Irish Setter, Airedale Terrier, Boxer, Cocker Spaniel, Great Dane, Irish Wolfhound, Miniature Schnauzer, Giant Schnauzer, Poodle, Newfoundland, Shetland Sheepdog, Scottish Deerhound, Doberman Pinscher and Dachshund are prone to hair loss as a result of hypothyroidism.