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Getting To The Root of Canine Baldness

It can be quite worrying if you notice that your dog seems to be losing some of their lovely coat. Alopecia in dogs can result from skin infections such as ringworm (a fungal infection), a bacterial infection, or parasites such as mites, and is often the result of the dog scratching or licking an itchy or sore area.

Alopecia in dogs can affect all breeds and genders at any stage of their life. It’s a fairly common condition and can display as either partial or complete hair loss, but it can also affect your dog’s skin, endocrine, lymphatic and immune systems.

It can be alarming to see your dog losing hair as it can be very noticeable, especially if you have a long-furred pet who typically has a silky-smooth coat. Luckily, alopecia in dogs is usually very treatable, and a visit to the vet should help to find the root of the problem and allow you to find a suitable treatment to get your dog back to their usual, gorgeous selves.

Causes of Hair Loss

Alopecia in dogs can result from several skin conditions, and cases can range from gradual to acute. The most common causes of hair loss in dogs include:

  • Mange, an occurrence caused by the mite ‘Demodex.’

  • A disruption in the growth of hair follicles is caused by trauma, infection, immune disease, or endocrine system abnormalities.

  • Hair follicle inflammation.

  • Allergic reactions may be to food or items in your dog’s environment.

  • Diet and feeding: poor diet can often cause hair loss in dogs.

  • Parasites and fleas: these can cause intense itching, and you may notice your dog losing hair around their lower back, inner thighs, neck, and ears.

  • Bacterial skin infections or hot spots.

  • Ringworm: if the cause is ringworm, it will typically display as circular patches of flaky, red, hairless patches.

  • Overgrooming by dogs. Grooming is a natural behavior, but sometimes dogs may do it excessively due to stress or pain.

  • Seasonal alopecia: some dogs may experience hair loss each autumn which may take around 6 – 12 months to regrow. This type is most common in Boxers, Bulldogs, Dobermans, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers.

More widespread hair loss in your dog’s coat may indicate a more specific disease, so it’s always important to see your vet as soon as you suspect your dog may be losing their fur.

Symptoms of Alopecia in Dogs

If you notice your dog losing hair, that can be a symptom of alopecia in itself, but there are also a few other signs they may display too:

  • Brittle or dry coat.

  • Shedding more than usual.

  • Bald patches on your dog.

  • Crusting, inflammation, or red patches around the area of hair loss.

  • Scaly skin may be present.

  • Dandruff.

  • Itchy skin.

  • Overgrooming.

  • Patches of dark skin.

Treatment for Canine Alopecia

The treatment your dog will need will depend on the reason behind their hair loss, which could potentially be down to several skin conditions. Make sure you talk to your vet to get the correct diagnosis.

All dogs should be given regular flea control treatments, but your vet might recommend other treatments if they think another cause is to blame, such as an anti-fungal treatment for ringworm. Some causes of hair loss, such as allergic skin disease and other dog skin conditions, can be challenging to treat, but a veterinary dermatologist will be able to give you all the advice you need. Other causes, like hormonal conditions such as underactive thyroid or adrenal gland problems, may require longer-term treatment.

Speak to your vet as soon as you suspect that your pet may be suffering from canine alopecia. The sooner you can get a diagnosis, the sooner your pet can be successfully treated and happy and healthy once more.

Our appreciation to Purina Pro for their ongoing dedication to canine health and wellness of all life stages. The lending of their research helps all pet parents create the best life for family companions.


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