Hair loss in dogs, also commonly known as dog alopecia, is a common problem, but it is often a symptom of something rather than a medical problem all its own. Although the cause is likely simple to treat, there are times when hair loss in dogs could be indicative of a serious underlying medical condition. The only way to find out which one applies to you and your pooch is to get your pooch checked over by a vet.
- Skin conditions in dogs that cause hair loss
- What is your dog doing when you are not home?
- How to prevent hair loss in dogs
- What is a home remedy for alopecia in dogs?
- What will a vet do about hair loss in dogs?
Skin conditions in dogs that cause hair loss
As well as a range of skin conditions that can cause alopecia in dogs, there are a few non-skin-related conditions that have it listed as a symptom, too.
Here are some of the common causes behind hair loss and dandruff in dogs:
Seasonal hair loss
According to research, the most common cause of doggy hair loss is seasonal hair loss or shedding of the fur. This happens regularly – shedding a summer coat for a winter one, and then a winter one for a summer one.
Certain breeds shed a lot more than others, and at certain times of the year, you may find that your pampered pooch is losing a lot more hair than at other times.
Dog breeds that shed more than others include:
- Labrador Retrievers;
- Golden Retrievers;
- German Shepherds;
- Alaskan Malamutes;
- Great Pyrenees;
- Chow Chows;
- Siberian Huskies;
- Saint Bernards;
- Scottish Terriers (and other Terrier breeds);
- American Eskimo Dogs;
This is, by no means, an extensive list.
Despite the name, ringworm is not a worm, but a fungus that causes itchy, red, and irritated patches of skin along with spots of hair loss. It is also one of many yeast or bacteria-based organisms that cause infections.
If your dog has hair loss because of ringworm, or because of another bacterial or fungal infection, they will likely need antibiotics or antifungal medication.
Mites cause an irritated and itchy skin condition that is mange. Dogs pick mites up outside, or when interacting with infected animals. The mites then dig in and chew on the skin of your poor pup. It can very quickly cause dandruff and hair loss in dogs, and it is thought to be very painful.
Fleas are common, especially when people do not regularly flea-treat pets. Can fleas cause hair loss in dogs? Yes, they can! Fleas are believed to be even itchier than mites. Your dog can scratch until huge sections of the skin become bald and red raw. The affected areas can bleed, scab up, and become infected.
If you have a case of dog hair loss from fleas on your hands, you will need to treat your dog, all other pets, and the home. It is a good idea to have a chat with your vet about what they would recommend – flea collar, spot treatment, home flea spray, or ‘bomb’ treatments, etc.
Fleas aren’t the only parasites that your dog might pick up, but it is one of the most common. Flea bites can cause flea allergies in dogs, which causes a much stronger reaction than your average flea bite.
Dogs can suffer from similar allergies as humans – including foods. My bulldog, George, can’t eat chicken. He must have grain-free food, too. If he eats something that contains either chicken or grain, he scratches himself until he is red raw and cries about it.
If you suspect your dog might have an allergy to a certain type of food, speak to your vet. At the same time, slowly change your pup’s diet to a food type that doesn’t contain the ingredient you believe they are allergic to. If they get better, you’ll have found your answer.
Some vets will perform allergy tests to rule out things like food allergies, too.
Again, bringing George the bulldog back into the conversation, I must be careful about which products I use around the home.
It could be the case that your dog is scratching because of something you have used or are using around the home. This includes candles, cleaning products, air fresheners, carpet-freshening products, laundry detergents and softeners, and even hairsprays and perfumes. All these things can cause your dog to itch and scratch until they suffer from hair loss.
Pregnancy and Lactation
During pregnancy and while dogs are lactating (nursing pups), it is very common for female dogs to shed hair. This can result in patchy hair loss, but usually slowly returns to normal once the pups are weaned.
Calcium is required for a dog to have a healthy coat. During pregnancy and when females are nursing, the calcium in their diet is diverted – to nourish pups during gestation, and then to feed them once they are born. The mother’s coat can then suffer as a result.
In the same way that humans with poor nutrition and malnutrition can experience hair loss, dogs can, too. If the right minerals, vitamins, and other compounds aren’t being consumed by your pup, they won’t be in tip-top condition.
A bad diet, with lots of human-food treats, and not enough exercise can cause your pup to have nutritional problems. In turn, this will lead to poor-quality fur, and then loss of fur.
Not enough food can also cause similar issues and symptoms, as well as too much food.
Hormone health problems
In some cases, alopecia in dogs is caused by a hormonal problem, such as a growth hormone condition, a problem with the adrenal glands, or even hypothyroidism. Without diagnosis and treatment, these conditions could reduce your pet’s quality of life. In some cases, they can prove fatal.
What is your dog doing when you are not home?
Do you know if your dog is scratching when you’re not around? Could it be the case that your pampered pooch is getting hold of some food they shouldn’t be eating, causing allergies, which in turn can cause itching and hair loss in dogs?
If you’re not sure, maybe it’s time to invest in something that will help, like a Petcube interactive pet camera. With the innovative pet monitoring system, you can keep up with everything your precious pet is doing when you’re not around, catching medical issues in their early stages and getting them early treatment, if necessary.
How to prevent hair loss in dogs
You will need to have a good understanding of what is causing in hair loss your dog before you can treat and prevent it. For example, if your poor pooch is suffering from hair loss because of a flea infestation, you will need to treat your dog for fleas, then use a preventative treatment going forward, such as a flea collar.
If your dog is suffering from contact alopecia, you will need to remove the source of the rubbing. In some cases, this will be obvious – rubbing from a collar, harness, cone, etc. If the problem is dog hair loss under the collar, you should then replace the collar with a body harness instead, or a collar that won’t rub.
Although there are dog hair loss home remedies you can use, it is vital to fully investigate why it is happening; otherwise, you might end up simply prolonging your poor pooch’s pain and discomfort.
What is a home remedy for alopecia in dogs?
Your vet might recommend a home remedy or two that can help with your dog’s hair loss, but you shouldn’t replace veterinary care with a home remedy.
Apple cider vinegar shampoo for dog hair loss
Apple cider vinegar is recommended as a natural home remedy for dog hair loss because it has antibacterial and antifungal properties that could potentially get rid of any unwanted organisms.
You can use it in several ways, including dabbing it on affected areas of your dog’s skin, diluting it in your dog’s bath, or adding it to dog-friendly oil bases, to be used as a home massaging lotion. As always, consult with your vet before using apple cider vinegar on a dog with hair loss.
Dog food for hair loss
If your vet thinks that your dog has an allergy or intolerance to a certain type of food, they will recommend a dog hair loss diet that doesn’t contain that food. It might be the case that you need to go through a process of trial-and-error to find the right and wrong foods for your dog.
What will a vet do about hair loss in dogs?
If you’re concerned about the cost of taking your poor pooch to the vet, why not take a peek at the Pet Emergency Fund offered by Petcube? You can’t put a price on your precious pets. With the Emergency Fund, thankfully, you won’t need to worry about how much the medical care costs.
For just $1 per day, up to six of your pets will be covered for up to $3,000 of emergency vet care and treatment. There are no restrictions, vet help is available around the clock, and the coverage payment is quick.
As you can see, there are so many potential causes behind hair loss in dogs. It could be something completely benign and relatively easy to treat, such as an irritating collar and contact alopecia. On the other hand, it could be something serious or potentially life-threatening, requiring treatment, such as adrenal gland disorders or an underactive thyroid.
It is important to get your pup checked by a vet if you notice even a small amount of hair loss. The sooner it is diagnosed, the sooner it can be treated, and the sooner your dog can carry on living a happy and healthy life.