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Hair Fall in Dogs

It’s normal for dogs to shed, but now much shedding is too much? Find out what to do if you notice your dog losing hair.

Most dogs shed hair, especially during the hot summer months, but a dog losing hair in massive amounts or with bald spots could mean something more serious such as allergies, hormonal imbalance, miles, trauma or an infection. While its normal for most dogs to shed at some point throughout the year, if large clumps of dull hair or fur fall out easily or if your dog’s fur is thinning to her skin, this is a sign of excessive hair loss.

There can be major underlying health problem going on like organ issues or hormonal problems. There are several things you should take into consideration. But always remember that although a dog losing hair can arise from serious conditions this isn’t always the case. In fact most hair loss happens as a result of highly treatable conditions.

The most common causes are contact allergies, flea allergies and food allergies. In case of an allergy, the hair fall is caused by all the scratching the dog does. Your dog could also be sensitive to specific seasonal allergies in the air. If your dog has hair fall especially on her back and sides this is called seasonal flank alopecia.

Canine hair fall causes

  • Mange
    Mites responsible for mange can take over your dog’s fur and cause patchy hair loss. Mange causes skin scaliness that will make your dog itch excessively. This itching leads to hair loss if severe.
  • Trauma
    Hair loss caused by trauma most often occurs as a result of a dog chronically licking her own fur. This condition called acral lick dermatitis damages the hair follicle and leads to hair loss. Trauma can also happen as a secondary reaction from an injury.
  • Allergies
    Dog can have allergies to certain foods, fleas and chemicals found in skin care products. Certain dog breeds are more susceptible to allergies, such as Golden Retrievers, Bulldogs and Yorkshire Terriers. Hair loss stemming from allergies leads to redness in the skin, itching, hot spots and bumps.
  • Infection
    Different infections can cause dog hair loss, including ring worm, folliculitis and cancer. With infection related hair loss, you might notice nodules with or without pus, scaling, redness and hot spots.
  • Hormonal imbalance
    Many hormonal imbalances can leads to hair loss in dogs. Thyroid disorders, pituitary dwarfism and adrenal gland deficiency can all cause progressive hair loss.

Treatment

Specific treatment for hair fall in pets will depend on the underlying cause. Your vet will have to make careful notes of the breed/age of the pet, as well as ask for historical information from the pet owner.

For pets less than a year old or pets that have been adopted, your vet will often perform a skin scrape to evaluate for skin mites such as demodex or scabies. Your vet may also shine a special lamp knows as a wood’s lamp over your pets affected area to see if in fluoresces which could indicated ring warm. Further a fungal culture may also be performed.

In adult pets who are itching or pulling their fur out causing hair loss, veterinarians will often use a flea comb on the pet to see if flea bite allergies may be causing hair loss. Dietary history as well as seasonal variations in hair loss may indicate atopy or possible food allergies.


Dr Sharad Singh Yadav is the Chairman of Advanced Pet Hospital & Research Centre which is open 24 hours throughout the year and located in Bishal Nagar, Kathmandu. He may be contacted on tel: 4422855 or email: aphktm@gmail.com