Alopecia: What to Do About Hair Loss in Dogs
Seasonal shedding is common in spring and fall as dogs prepare their coats for the hot summer and cold winter. This is part of a normal process and, unless you see other worrisome symptoms, shedding will eventually subside.
Alopecia in dogs refers to partial or complete loss of hair on certain parts of the body. Unlike routine shedding, alopecia is not part of a seasonal pattern. This type of hair loss in dogs can be connected to various medical conditions, although sometimes occurs for no known reason. Treatment can be highly effective if a dog is seen right away.
What to Know
Hair loss in dogs can be explained by a sudden or gradual deficiency in their coat that inhibits growth or a simple inability to grow hair at all. Hair loss obviously affects a dog’s skin, but can also have an influence on the immune, lymphatic, and endocrine systems. As a result, if you ever notice the following symptoms, please contact us:
- Patchy bald spots near the mouth or eyes
- Crusty, scaly, and inflamed areas of the skin
- Excessive itchiness that leads to open wounds
- Symmetrical hair loss on either side of the body
- Discolored skin
- Bleeding or draining around the wounds
Causes of Alopecia
Hair loss in dogs can be associated with a range of medical problems. Some can be easily resolved. Others can be quite serious.
Allergies can lead to itchy skin, excessive shedding and scratching, bleeding, open wounds, secondary skin infection, and hair loss. Whether your dog is allergic to fleas, ingredients in their food, or environmental triggers, we can help them get relief.
Other possible explanations for hair loss in dogs include:
- Kidney disease
- Thyroid issues
- Cushing’s disease or other hormone imbalances
- Fungal infection, such as ringworm
- Bacterial infection
- Eczema, dandruff or sunburn
Sometimes, a dog’s nervous behavior can lead to hair loss if they are constantly self-grooming when anxious or stressed.
Hair loss can occur in reaction to vaccinations, chemotherapy, injuries that involve scarring of the skin, or foreign bodies, like glass, metal shards, or wood splinters, embedded beneath the outer layer of skin. Some dog breeds, including chihuahuas, greyhounds, dachshunds and whippets are genetically predisposed to alopecia.
Treating Hair Loss in Dogs
Depending on the cause of hair loss, treatment will vary. Medications, such as antibiotics, antifungals, antihistamines, and steroids are common treatments for alopecia. Medicated or hypoallergenic shampoos or dips can bring intense relief to itchy skin. Insulin or hormone therapy may be needed for long-term support of chronic disease.
At home, you may find that affixing an Elizabethan collar can reduce scratching of licking. The team at Springbrook Animal Care Center may prescribe nutritional supplementation of vitamin A, vitamine E, and fish oil to soothe the skin and aid the coat.
Lastly, if you know or suspect that your dog’s condition is caused or made worse by stress or anxiety, we’re here to help you support their behavior. Please give us a call at (630) 428-0500 with any questions or concerns.
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