Hair loss (alopecia) is a common disorder in dogs which causes the animal to have partial or complete hair loss. It can affect a dog’s skin, its endocrine system, its lymphatic system, and its immune systems. Alopecia can affect dogs and cats of all ages, breed and gender, and is either gradual or acute.
Dogs naturally lose old or damaged hair by shedding. Although shedding is a normal process for dogs, the amount and frequency of hair that is shed often depends upon their health and breed type. It can also depend on the season-many dogs develop thick coats in the winter that are then shed in the spring. Dogs who are always kept indoors, however, are prone to smaller fluctuations in coat thickness and tend to shed fairly evenly all year.
One of the most common causes of alopecia is mange, which caused by the mite Demodex. Hair loss can also occurs when there is a disruption in the growth of hair follicles, often from infection, trauma, an immune disease, or endocrine system abnormalities. If there are multiple missing patches of hair, it could be associated with an inflammation of the hair follicle. A more widespread area of hair loss, meanwhile, may indicate a more specific disease pattern
Mites responsible for mange can take over your dog’sfur and cause patchy hair loss. Mange causes skin scaliness that will make your dog itch excessively. This itching leads to hair loss if severe enough. Hair loss caused by trauma most often occurs as a result of a dog chronically licking her own fur.
most important cause of hairloss are-;
Allergies are a frequent cause of hair loss in dogs. This may due to environmental triggers such as pollen, molds and dust mites, or due to parasitic triggers like fleas or mites. Food allergies are another possible cause of hair loss. Typical symptoms of an adverse allergic reaction include itchiness resulting in excess scratching, biting, and, of course, hair loss. In the case of flea allergies, it is recommended that dogs take flea preventatives as a way to minimize threats of a full-blown flea infestation.
2. Infection or Infestation
An infestation with parasites such as fleas, ticks, and mites (scabies, mange) is another source canine alopecia. Along with hair loss around the ears, eyes, abdomen, and chest, signs your dog may have mites or fleas/ticks include inflammation, itching and redness. Bacterial or fungal infections, such as in the case of ringworm (which is actually a fungus), can also be attributed to hair loss in dogs. Symptoms of ringworm include circular or irregular hair loss, inflammation, and infected crusts.
3. Cushing’s Disease
Hyperadrenocorticism, also known as Cushing’s disease, is a condition caused by the prolonged exposure of the body’s tissue to excessive levels of the hormone cortisol. Symptoms of Cushing’s disease include hair loss, darkening of the skin, and the development of a pot-bellied abdomen. Cushing’s disease commonly occurs in middle-aged to senior dogs, though it can also affect dogs that overuse corticosteroid drugs.
There are some breeds of dog that are more genetically prone to baldness than others. First there are the hairless dogs that have been bred for the attribute such as the Chinese Crested, Mexican Hairless (Xolo), and American Hairless Terrier. Other dog breeds, such as the Doberman Pinscher, Dachshund, Chihuahua, Italian Greyhound and Whippet, sometimes suffer from patchy or pattern baldness on the outer ear, chest, back, thigh, or lower neck.
5. Pressure Sores
Pressure sores, also called bedsores or decubital ulcers, are localized injuries where the dog’s elbows or other bony pressure points (hips, hocks, etc.) come into contact with hard surfaces regularly. This constant pressure and friction causes the skin to callus, lose hair and sometimes crack and bleed. Pressure sores are more common older dogs, especially large or heavy breeds.
The pattern and severity of alopecia is essential for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
- Multiple areas of hair loss — This is often accompanied by the reddening of the skin and mild scaling. A fungus such as ringworm or bacterial infections are generally associated with this type of hair loss. Another common cause includes scleroderma, a skin condition that develops from scar tissue or as a result of a recent vaccination.
- Symmetrical hair loss — There are several known causes for this, including excessive levels of steroids in the dog’s body produced by the adrenal glands, low thyroid levels, increased levels of estrogen, low levels of female hormone secretion, and testosterone-related hair loss (occurring when the levels are lowered suddenly in the dog).
- Patchy to generalized hair loss — Mange is one of the most familiar causes of this type of hair loss. Other causes include bacterial infections and ringworm. It is is accompanied with redness of the skin and inflammation.
How Can I Minimize My Dog’s Shedding?
While you cannot stop a healthy dog from normal shedding, you can reduce the amount of hair in your home by brushing your dog regularly. Your veterinarian or groomer should be able to recommend a specific type of brush or comb that will work best for your dog’s hair type.
Alopecia is commonly treated with topical shampoos and antibiotic therapy. If other issues are discovered to be the underlying cause, treatment to address the hormone levels may be prescribed. Meanwhile, if there is a skin growth or cancer, it will be surgically removed.
Living and Management
Once the treatment has been prescribed, it is essential the topical shampoos, ointments and antibiotics are administered as prescribed. In addition, monitor the dog’s skin to ensure it does not become infected.
There is little that can be done to prevent alopecia, but it is important to monitor your pet for any skin issues that may cause hair loss.
When Is it Time to See the Vet?
If you notice any of the following conditions, or if your dog’s initial skin problem persists for more than a week, consult with your veterinarian for treatment.
- Skin irritation, including redness, bumps, rashes or scabs
- Open sores of any kind
- Bald spots or thinning of coat
- Dull, dry hair that pulls out easily
- Constant foot licking or face rubbing