Common Causes of Hair Loss in Dogs
Hair loss is a fairly common occurrence in pets, and can be caused by any number of illnesses, both physical and emotional. Listed below are the most common causes of hair loss in dogs.
Common Causes of Hair Loss in Dogs:
Allergic Contact Dermatitis This is an allergic reaction to a variety of sources including metals, antibiotics, rubber, wool, chemicals or inflammation from plants. Your dog may have red bumps or skin irritation, sparse hair, itching or blisters. A patch test may determine the irritant, or by limiting exposure to certain potential irritants, you may discover the source. Steroids or antihistamines can be prescribed to alleviate itching. Allergic Inhalant Dermatitis (Atopy) This is an allergic reaction to an inhaled substance such as pollen, mites or mold. Dogs may lick their feet, appear itchy and red, lose hair and may develop an infection due to severe itching. A vet will do a skin or blood test and may prescribe medications, steroids, antihistamines or immunotherapy. Callus Calluses are caused by chronic pressure and are found mostly in larger dogs. Thick, hairless areas will emerge over bony areas like the elbows, especially if the dog sleeps on a hard floor. The dog may be more comfortable with a softer bed and extra support around the sore area. Cushings disease (hyperadrenocorticism) This disease is caused by corticosteroids either produced by the body or as a side effect of corticosteroid therapy. Symptoms may include hair loss, thinning skin, hyper-pigmentation (darkened skin), easy bruising, lethargy, increased thirst and urination, and a potbellied appearance. Your vet may check the function of the adrenal gland; do a urinalysis, CBC and a chemistry panel. If there are tumors they will need to be removed and steroid used should be limited. Demodectic Mange (Red mange, Puppy Mange) This is caused by an infection with the Demodex mite and occurs in a weakened immune system. Symptoms may include hair loss, a scaly appearance, pustules, ulcers, itching and darkening of the skin. The vet will examine the dogs skin and do a flea bath. Folliculitis This is an infection of the hair follicles, and symptoms will include hair loss, pustules and lesions, crusty areas and itching. The vet will perform a biopsy and skin cultures. Antibiotics should cure folliculitis. Food Allergies Dogs can be allergic to foods just as humans are. They will lick their feet, have inflamed ears, be itchy and red, and will lose hair. Severe itching may lead to infection. You will want to determine what the dog is eating that makes it itch, and change their diet. Hair Loss during Pregnancy This can also occur while nursing and in other stressful situations. Work to alleviate the stress or anxiety, and the hair should grow back. Hypothyroidism A lowering of the thyroid hormone is common in dogs. Symptoms will include hair loss, brittle hair, seborrhea, bacterial and yeast infections, lethargy, obesity and a slowed heart rate. A few tests will need to be performed to determine a thyroid deficiency and the dog will need to take a thyroid supplement. Ringworm Ringworm is a fungal infection resulting in hair loss, scaly skin, crusted areas, pustules and itching. A culture will be performed and a medication needed to treat the ringworm. Sarcoptic Mange This is caused by an infection of the Sarcoptes mite and will result in severe itching and self-trauma, crusty skin and scaly skin. A pesticide will be used to kill the mite. Tail Gland Hyperplasia The sebaceous gland found at the top of the tail near the base becomes enlarged, usually in unneutered dogs. Symptoms will include oily hair, hair loss, skin crusts and darkened skin around the gland. Treatment may involve neutering.
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