Hair loss in dogs is also referred to as Alopecia and can be one of the most frightening conditions that will ever occur in your dog.
In some cases it may be a normal occurrence; however, in the vast majority of cases it will be anything but normal.
What makes this condition even more troubling is that there are several potential underlying causes and all of them will have varying degrees of symptoms as well as treatments.
Although the following list of potential causes is considered to be the most common causes, it is certainly not all conclusive.
The first potential cause of hair loss in dogs is referred to as Dermatitis and it can come in two different forms; allergic as well as irritant contact dermatitis.
It is usually the result of an allergic reaction that your dogs has had following exposure to something that is extremely irritating to their skin.
As a result, your dog’s hair will begin to fall out.
This can include a reaction to antibiotics that have been applied to your dog’s skin, or a reaction to some type of material including rubber, wool, or plastic.
It may also be the result of a reaction to a type of metal, especially nickel, or a chemical such as a carpet deodorizer.
It may also be the result of an inflammation that has affected your dog and irritates their skin such as poison ivy.
The symptoms will include red skin as well as small bumps that quickly turn into blisters.
These blisters will first appear on areas of your dog’s skin where the hair is very light in texture or very sparse.
After the contact has been made with the irritant, itching will rapidly develop followed by hair loss if it becomes chronic.
The treatment is to identify the irritant if possible, immediately restrict further exposure, and then treat it with antibiotics or steroids.
The next potential cause of hair loss in dogs is from Atopy, which is also an allergic reaction to something that your dog has inhaled.
This can include pollen, mold, and something that most owners may never realize they have; house dust mites.
The symptoms with this potential cause will include your dog licking their feet as well as their ears becoming extremely inflamed.
Once these occur, your dog will also start to itch themselves which will cause redness to develop in their skin that can lead to hair loss.
However, it may also lead to something much worse; infections as well as hot spots.
The treatments for Atopy are also to identify the allergen and then treat your dog with fatty acid supplements, biotin, as well as antihistamines.
Medicated shampoos may also be used as well as steroids in extreme situations. Steroids can have severe side effects and should only be used as a last resort.
If they are recommend, it is also wise to seek a second opinion because of the potential side effects.
The next potential cause of hair loss in dogs is Cushings disease, also referred to as hyperadrenocorticism.
This is a condition that is caused by an increased amount of corticosteroids in your dog’s body that can happen in two different ways.
The first is an increased production by your dog’s immune system of corticosteroids, or by high dosages of corticosteroids from some type of treatment.
The symptoms with this potential cause will not only be hair loss, but will also include the thinning of your dog’s skin. It can also cause easy bruising, hyper-pigmentation, as well as black heads.
However; it can also lead to increased drinking as well as urination, as well as a potbellied appearance in your dog.
The treatments for this wicked disease will include surgery if it involves a glandular tumor, or if it believed to be the result of steroids used as treatments, they will have to be withdrawn very slowly.
If they are not withdrawn slowly, it can be extremely dangerous to your dog.
The next potential cause of hair loss may be from Demodectic mange and can include Red mange as well as Puppy mange.
If your dog’s immune system is weak or has been compromised, the Demodex mite can easily cause this condition.
The symptoms will not only be hair loss, but will include pustules, ulcers, as well as intense itching.
This intense itching can also lead to darkening of your dog’s skin.
If your veterinarian suggests steroids as a treatment for mange, run as fast as you can. The only effective treatment for these forms of mange is Mitaban dips.
They may have to be repeated a couple of times, but they are extremely effective.
Folliculitis is the next potential cause of hair loss in dogs, and it is a situation where the hair follicles become infected.
This is generally the result of staph bacteria and the symptoms almost always appear in areas where there is very little hair such as your dog’s stomach or abdomen.
The symptoms are classically referred to as bull’s eyes, as the pustules in your dog’s follicles actually open in a bull’s eye patterns.
They will have crusty centers and will be very scaly and may or may not itch.
Short haired breeds may loss small amounts of hair, while long haired breeds generally develop seborrhea, also referred to as dandruff or flaking skin that has a very foul odor.
Treatments with this condition are antibiotics but it may take several weeks before it is controlled.
Even after it is controlled, it may take another couple of weeks before it is considered cured.
The next potential cause is from Hypothyroidism, which is a decreased level of your dog’s thyroid hormone, and is considered to be the most common hormonal disease that affects dog’s skin.
Hair loss in dogs is just the beginning of this condition, as it also causes very dry and brittle hair, seborrhea, as well as yeast infections.
It can also cause obesity as well as changes in your dog’s skin color. There is only one treatment for this condition; thyroid supplements for the remainder of your dog’s life.
Hair loss in dogs can also be the result of a ring worm infection that is the result of several types of fungal infections.
These infections will also cause pustules as well as vesicles, and may also include itching. If itching does occur, kerions may develop which are draining nodules.
Lime sulfur dips are the treatments most commonly used.
The next potential cause of hair loss in dogs is from Sarcoptic Mange, also the result of an infection of a mite, but this is from the Sarcoptes mite.
It causes intense itching that can very easily cause your dog to self-mutilate their own skin and in addition to the hair loss, it also causes papules, crusting, and scaling.
Amitraz dips are the most effective treatment.
However, there are still other potential causes of hair loss in dogs. This will include Callus, which affect larger breeds of dogs and affects their elbows, as well Telogen effluvium.
This condition is also referred as blowing her coat and can affect females during the pregnancy as well as the nursing stages.
It can also be the result of an extremely stressful set of circumstance that your dog may be facing and involves a very sudden and massive hair loss.
Hair loss in dogs can also be caused by food allergies as well several other conditions, but these are some of the major causes.
In most every case there is an underlying cause that can be treated once it is identified.
The key is to catch the hair loss early and have your dog tested as quickly as possible to identify the actual cause.