Dog Losing Hair – A Vet’s Guide To Alopecia In Dogs
What Is Hair Loss?
Hair loss is a condition where there are less hairs growing on your body than when you were young. There are many causes of hair loss such as genetics, sun exposure, medications, certain diseases like cancer or diabetes etc. You may have heard about it from other people but you might not know what exactly causes it.
What do these things have in common?
They all cause damage to your cells which results in hair loss.
It is very difficult to tell if you have any type of hair loss because the symptoms vary greatly depending upon the person. Some people experience only thinning hair while others lose their entire coat completely. Sometimes hair loss occurs at different times of the year than others.
Also, some people with hair loss will notice it gradually over time whereas others may experience sudden onset of baldness.
The Causes Of Hair Loss In Dogs And Cats
There are several possible reasons why your pet loses its fur:
Dogs and cats both shed their fur once every few years. If they don’t, then they would look like they have been shaved regularly. This is a normal and regular process.
Dogs and cats both lose their fur because of parasites. If your pet has a flea infestation, you can see the tiny black specks crawling on your pet’s skin and even in their fur. There are other kinds of parasites too which will make your pet’s fur fall out if not treated on time.
Both dogs and cats get mange. Mange is not actually a virus but a type of parasitic infection. Sarcoptic mange is caused by the Sarcoptes mite.
It makes your pet very itchy and drives them crazy because they cannot stop scratching. This leads to fur loss which is often described as thinning. Demodicosis is another type caused by the Demodex mite. It can lead to patchy fur loss especially on the face, feet, and genital areas. Your veterinarian can easily diagnose this from the symptoms and by examining a skin scraping under a microscope. Medicated shampoos or other types of medication can be given to help treat your pet’s mange.
Sometimes hair loss in dogs and cats can be caused by hormonal imbalances. This might be true if your pet’s hair loss occurs in predictable patterns every year. For instance, your pet might lose all of its fur in the summer and grow it all back again when winter comes.
This type of hair loss is called pigment loss and is usually harmless.
Some dogs and cats can lose their hair because of allergies to food, pollen or other environmental factors. This kind of hair loss is fairly easy to treat. You just need to find out what your pet is allergic to and remove it from their diet.
Parasites, hormonal problems and allergies are the most common causes of hair loss in dogs and cats. However, there are more serious causes such as Cushing’s Disease and Hypothyroidism which need to be treated by a veterinarian. Cushing’s disease is caused by excess amounts of the hormone cortisol in your pet’s body.
This is most often caused by an adrenal tumor growth or, in some cases, it can be inherited. Hypothyroidism is a deficiency of the thyroid hormone which, as you might guess, causes a whole host of problems with your pet’s metabolism. Both of these conditions need to be treated by a veterinarian and possibly with medication.
Sources & references used in this article:
Yorkie Losing Hair? Causes & Treatments to Prevent Hair Loss by K Caughill – thedogtale.com
The hair follicle: a comparative review of canine hair follicle anatomy and physiology by MM Welle, DJ Wiener – Toxicologic pathology, 2016 – journals.sagepub.com
Alopecia areata in a dog: clinical, dermoscopic and histological features by F Scarampella, P Roccabianca – Skin appendage disorders, 2018 – karger.com
The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Arthritis in Dogs and Cats by S Messonnier – 2011 – books.google.com
Exclusion of patched homolog 2 (PTCH2) as a candidate gene for alopecia X in Pomeranians and Keeshonden by EM Mausberg, C Drögemüller, G Dolf, S Rüfenacht… – 2008 – veterinaryrecord.bmj.com
Canine adipose-derived stem cell aggregates as a viable substitute to actual canine dermal papillae by S Bae, J Kim, L Li, A Lee, H Lim… – Macedonian …, 2015 – content.sciendo.com
Alopecia X in a Pomeranian by AMR Boeta – 2020 – Edizioni LSWR