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Nikhil is a pet enthusiast and a true pet lover. He loves to read and write about pets nutrition, pet health and common pet care issues.
Human hair and dog hair don’t have a lot in common, but one thing that is the same is that we both shed. Well, mostly.
While there are some breeds that don’t shed (like a poodle or Maltese), there are plenty of breeds that do leave behind a trail of hair.
Dogs shed their fur for a few reasons. Your pooch may shed as hair strands get old or damaged. However, the biggest culprit of shedding dogs is weather changes. If your dog has an undercoat, they will blow their coat twice a year, and you’ll be left with enough hair to make a blanket. During these rough couple of weeks, your dog’s shedding may get out of control. Brushing a couple of times each week can help remove and control excess hair, thus reducing the amount of stray hair left on your clothing and furniture. Regular grooming services can also help you maintain your dog’s fur and coat with the safest products for them.
But sometimes, what appears to be simply typical shedding is actually severe hair loss.
How do you know which is which?
Shedding Or Hair Loss?
For most breeds, shedding will not result in any visible difference, while having bald or bare patches is indicates a bigger underlying problem—Alopecia. Alopecia is hair loss in dogs, and it can point to either a medical or an inherited problem.
We’re going to brush up on the basics of dog hair loss, including the many types, causes, and treatment options.
Here are some hair loss patterns common to canines:
- Thinning hair all over the body
- Thinning hair on the back and sides of the body
- Thinning hair on the ears
- Thickening of the neck
- Under-belly thinning
- Hair loss on the sides of the body
- Circular bald spots
- Baldness on the abdomen
- Baldness patches on the legs
- Balding at the back of the hind legs
Apart from these, your dog may also exhibit changes in behavior or excitability, becoming restless or lethargic with hair loss. Skin changes are also expected with hair loss. An infection may cause your dog to experience redness or swelling, flaking, crusting, color changes, or discharge.
It’s as miserable as it sounds.
So what would cause such trouble for man’s best friend?
Here are some of the most common culprits.
Causes of Hair Loss in Dogs
Think your dog is losing hair? Here are your top suspects as you get to the bottom of things.
If a dog loses hair all over his body, the problem might be beneath the hood. The skin is the body’s largest organ, and it requires a good amount of nutrients to keep healthy.
A dull coat and dog hair loss may be caused by poor nutrition or a diet of low nutritional value food. Not every dry food will be suitable for your dog. A large dog breed, such as a Great Dane, requires different nutrition than a working dog, such as a Kelpie. You can even get breed-specific dog kibble that is designed to meet your dog’s unique nutritional needs.
Many dog owners prefer to cook for their dogs instead of preparing dry food. However, if you’re considering this option, you should get some scientific nutritional knowledge so that your dog doesn’t miss out on essential vitamins and minerals.
An allergic reaction can also cause skin irritation and hair loss. Medication, pollen, dust, chemicals, scents, and numerous plants are common allergens.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune illness that produces areas of hair loss on the dog’s body, neck, and head that does not itch.
Bacteria and yeast are natural occupants of your canine skin, but if they overgrow, they’ll cause some havoc. Bacterial or fungal yeast infections can cause hair loss, redness, itching, and odor on the skin. In addition, bacterial infections can sometimes result in pimple-like pustules.
Hair loss caused by bacterial infection is usually attributed to a secondary sign of an underlying disease (allergic or parasitic reaction).
Worms cause dog hair loss by interfering with your pup’s ability to absorb nutrition. Worms live within dogs and can be passed from one to another by sniffing or licking each other’s rear ends. Dogs with worms often exhibit indications of exhaustion and tiredness more quickly.
Worms are very infectious. Therefore, getting set up with routine dewormers is critical to prevent hair loss and maintain a happy, healthy pup.
A Note About Ringworm– Despite the name similarity, ringworm is actually not a worm. Instead, it’s a fungus that causes hair loss and localized patches of infection. You need a trip to a vet if your dog has red, itchy, or scaly regions. Your veterinarian will do a thorough examination, offer further tests, and, if necessary, prescribe antibiotics or antifungals to treat the illness. Unfortunately, ringworm can be passed to humans, so be careful if you suspect this is the culprit.
Cushing’s disease is caused by an excess of corticosteroids in the body that leads to a tumor in the pituitary gland. This disease can cause hair loss, skin thinning, hyperpigmentation. It will also make your dog very thirsty and thus require more potty breaks.
If you’ve spent any amount of time watching animal rescue shows, you’ve probably seen a dog with mange. Mange is caused by mites and comes in two forms —sarcoptic mange ( scabies) and demodectic mange (red mange or Demodex). Scabies is a highly contagious parasitic mite, while Demodex is a normal part of the skin flora. It becomes a problem for dogs with weakened immune systems. Regardless of what kind of mange you’re dealing with, hair loss, scaling, redness, ulceration, and occasionally skin discoloration will follow.
Your dog’s hair and fur may be impacted if he has an underlying medical problem like diabetes mellitus. This disease affects a dog’s immune system, making them more susceptible to infections and skin disorders.
Dogs, like people, may develop allergies, with the most frequent symptoms being itchy skin and hair loss. Environmental allergies to irritants such as pollen, mold, dust mites, fleas, and food allergies are the most culprits for dogs. If your veterinarian detects allergies, they may prescribe flea management, itching medication, avoiding allergens, or a food modification to rule out food allergies.
Note: It will take at least eight weeks in a food trial to detect dietary allergies. So if your veterinarian places your dog on a food trial with a limited-ingredient meal plan or therapeutic food, it is vital that your dog not consume anything else.
Fleas deserve their own category because they are such a common pest. These highly contagious little parasites cause acute itching, redness, hair loss, and skin scales.
Can’t find any medical reason for your pup’s hairless patches? Don’t underestimate the power of stress. A substantial change in life (such as separation from their owner or separation anxiety) or even adding a second pet to the household can all induce stress in your dog. To cope, your dog may engage in self-soothing behaviors such as scratching and licking—both of which can produce bald patches.
My Dog Is Losing Hair. Now What?
If it’s clear that your dog isn’t just experiencing normal shedding habits and that you have actual hair loss on your hands? Here are some things to do to help.
Do A Little Investigating
This is your chance to really get to know your dog. Sometimes, a little detective work can help you pinpoint the problem and get to a fast solution. Do you notice any fleas, ticks or mites on their fur? A trip to the store for some medicated shampoos may be all you need. Have they gotten into any chemicals plants that can cause an allergic reaction? Is your pooch licking or scratching? You’ll need to give these details to the vet later on, so you might as well get a head start and get as many clues as possible.
Check Their Diet
A healthy gut leads to a healthy pup. If you notice any changes in your dog’s health, you’ll want to take a closer look at their dog food, especially if you suspect a food allergy. Common dog food allergies include beef, dairy, wheat, eggs, chicken, lamb and soy.
Curb Your Canine’s Stress
Whether or not you suspect stress is playing into your pup’s hair loss situation, it’s always a good idea to help your canine friend live a happy life full of love, exercise and mental stimulation. Never underestimate the power of regular walks for your pup. If you are gone for long periods of time, consider investing in some puzzle toys. And, if your pup needs some extra calming support, you opt for CBD.
Head To The Vet
Whenever anything seems off with your pet, you’ll want to check in with your vet. A quick phone call can let you know the difference between normal doggie behavior and when something is very wrong. While you may be able to detect some things like fleas or ticks on your own, more serious conditions like Cushing’s disease, worms or diabetes mellitus will require vet diagnostics and treatment.
Take Preventative Measures
Don’t underestimate the power of preventative measures! Even after you figure out what is irritating or hurting your dog, be sure to keep the love going with things like preventative flea and tick treatments. While hair loss isn’t a common symptom of heartworm, this is a good time to remind you to get your pup on a preventative heartworm treatment too!
Hair loss in dogs isn’t always a cause for concern. In fact, regular shedding is normal as it leads to new fur growth. However, if your dog isn’t regrowing hair after shedding or blowing its coat, it may be time to consider hair loss culprits. While we’ve come up with some common causes of hair loss in dogs, this list is not comprehensive, and you should always consult with your vet if you have any concerns about your pets.
You might also be interested in: Top 5 Ways to Tackle Pet Hair [That will Change your Life]
Common Causes of Hair Loss in Dogs:
- Poor Nutrition
- Bacterial Infection
- Cushing’s Disease
- Diabetes Mellitus