Alopecia X in Dogs

Alopecia X is a type of canine hair loss that vets don't fully understand. Often, alopecia, or baldness, in dogs occurs due to hormonal imbalances caused by illnesses like Cushings disease or hypothyroidism. Alopecia X, however, has no identifiable hormonal causes. In fact, its causes are so inconsistent that some vets suspect that Alopecia X may in fact be a primary symptom of a number of canine diseases. Read on to learn more about this mysterious hair loss disease in dogs.

What We Know About Alopecia X

Alopecia X, unlike other forms of alopecia, is not related to hormonal imbalances in the body. Vets can't even decide on how to treat the disease; some treatments work well for some dogs with Alopecia X, but those same treatments don't work at all for dogs with the same symptoms. Often, the treatment that works for one dog is completely different from the treatment that works for another dog. That's why vets suspect that Alopecia X may in fact occur due to a number of different diseases.

Certain breeds are more prone to this hair loss disorder than others. They include:

  • Chow Chow
  • American Eskimo
  • Norwegian Elkhound
  • Standard Poodle
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Pomeranian

In general, Nordic breeds and poodles, especially those with double-layer coats, seem most prone to developing Alopecia X. Dogs of both genders can develop this condition, whether or not they have been spayed or neutered. Both young and old dogs can develop it.

Symptoms of Alopecia X

Alopecia X causes symmetrical hair loss from both sides of a dog's body. Hair loss begins on the torso, and usually spreads to the rear thighs, but usually doesn't affect the head, neck, chest or front legs. The skin of the affected area may darken in color.

Hair loss in dogs is most often the result of hormonal imbalances brought on by an endocrine disorder. If your dog's hair loss is the result of an endocrine disorder, he'll exhibit other symptoms, such as increased thirst and urination, weight loss with increased appetite, lethargy and depression. If your dog's only symptom appears to be hair loss, then he may have Alopecia X.

Diagnosing and Treating Alopecia X

Your vet will want to rule out endocrine disorders before making a diagnosis of Alopecia X. Hypothyroidism and Cushings disease are the two most common causes of endocrine-related hair loss. While both of these diseases can be managed with medication, they can have serious complications if not promptly and properly treated.

Your vet will take blood samples and urine samples to test for hormonal problems. He may also want to perform a skin biopsy. If your vet can rule out endocrine disorders, then he will make a diagnosis of Alopecia X.

If your dog is intact, neutering him may cause his hair to grow back. This doesn't work for all dogs, and sometimes the hair falls out again later. If your dog has already been neutered, or neutering doesn't work, administering melatonin supplements might help your dog's hair grow back. If your dog's hair doesn't grow back after using melatonin for three months, then it probably never will.

It's important to remember that Alopecia X doesn't harm your dog or cause him any pain. If treatment doesn't make your dog's hair grow back, keep him warm with sweaters or jackets.