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What You Need to Know About Hair Loss in Dogs

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Shedding is one of the most common complaints of dog parents and you might also find yourself in this situation. What you have to know is that it’s absolutely normal for your friend to shed, especially during summer and winter months. On the other hand, massive hair loss all year long or bald spots could mean something more serious. This problem can appear anywhere on your pet’s body, regardless of its age, gender, or breed, although there are some certain dog families that seem to be prone to alopecia. Doberman Pinschers, Boxers, Bulldogs, and Airedale Terriers are some of them.

First of all, let’s start with the definition of alopecia: it is the partial or complete lack of hair in areas where normally it should be present. If the condition is accompanied by scratching, this second symptom should be investigated first and probably is the main cause of hair loss.

There are lots of reasons why your four-legged friend may lose its hair and a few of the more common ones will be presented below.

Allergies

Like humans, dogs can develop an allergic reaction to various factors, like food, environmental elements such as pollen or cigarette smoke, chemicals found in skin care products, or other materials that have direct contact with their skin.

Usually, allergic dogs present symptoms such as itchiness and red skin, and they will show some clear signs, like scratching and chewing of their fur and paws. This kind of behavior will result in the loss of hair in areas that are scratched intensely. Most frequent allergies are the ones related to food, usually caused by grains (corn, wheat), followed by the meats (chicken, fish, beef).

Parasites

External parasites are a common cause of alopecia in dogs. Fleas, ticks, lice, and mites are behind itching, licking, biting and scratching which eventually might lead to hair loss. These parasites can physically damage the hair follicles and skin, or induce allergic reactions.

Another type of parasitic infestation in dogs is caused by worms. In this case, your friend’s coat starts to become dull and dry, it will begin to lose its hair, and it will constantly itch itself.

Genetics

This is something you should know if you plan to adopt or buy a new buddy. There are certain breeds that are predisposed to hair loss, because of their genetics. For example, Doberman Pinschers, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, Italian Greyhounds, and Whippet have a predilection for hair thinning over the ears, abdomen, and neck, after their first year.

On the other hand, you will find some hairless breeds of dogs, like Mexican Hairless, Xolo, American Hairless Terrier, and the Chinese Crested. If you really hate finding hair all over your clothes and carpet, or if you are allergic to it, these breeds might be worth considering.

Reactions to Medication or Injections

Some drugs can present hair loss as a side effect. For example, chemotherapy medication for cancer usually causes alopecia. This condition can also appear at injection sites, usually caused by an inflammatory reaction to the drugs that were injected subcutaneous or intramuscular. Some vaccines might also cause hair loss and swelling at the injection site.

Long-term corticosteroid therapy can cause Cushing’s disease or iatrogenic hyperadrenocorticism in which hair loss is a symptom.

Alopecia Due to Endocrine and Hormonal Imbalances

Lots of endocrine disorders and hormonal imbalances have hair loss as a symptom. Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease), hypoadrenocorticism (Addison’s disease), hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, hyperestrogenism (for female dogs), and hypoandrogenism can all cause progressive hair loss if not controlled.

Alopecia X is another condition that causes hair loss. The disease is characterized by bald areas along with skin hyperpigmentation. It appears in both male and female dogs. There are some certain breeds that are predisposed to Alopecia X, including Chow Chow, Keeshond, Miniature Poodle, Pomeranian, Samoyed, and Siberian Husky.

Lots of dogs suffer from focal hair loss around the genital and flank regions after spay or neuter procedures. This type of alopecia appears frequently with densely-coated breeds, such as Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky, Samoyed. At the moment, there isn’t any real treatment for post-clipping alopecia.

Now that you know some of the causes of alopecia, you can prevent hair loss in your dog by following this simple advice:

If your pet starts losing hair and you can’t reach the vet for some reason, the first thing to do is check your buddy for fleas and ticks.

If you observe a seasonal hair loss, you can think that the reasons are inhalant allergies. You should avoid areas with flowers or dust when out for walks. Also, you could try using natural cures.

Feed your friend high-quality food and add some fish oil or supplements with Omega 3 and Omega 6. Avoid artificial flavors, colorants, and

Try to use natural shampoos as much as possible because they are hydrating and prevent dry skin and irritations.

Schedule an appointment at the vet every year for routine check-ups.

They say that the coat is the mirror of the dog’s health, and it is true that it is a good parameter of your dog’s health status. Don’t wait until a large amount of hair is being lost, or worse, visible bald spots appear. Start acting and get your dog’s health checked out by your vet!

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