Cause of Hair Loss in Dogs

The cause of hair loss in dogs may vary from the change of seasons to other underlying health conditions. Canines lose an amount of hair on a daily basis and there is also the phenomenon known as seasonal shedding; however, there are also situations when the dog is losing hair due to a problem that requires treatment.

Cause of Canine Hair Loss

The cause of hair loss may be the change of seasons or all through the year, if kept mostly indoors. There are also some dog breeds that are more prone to alopecia (a condition that is considered genetic and involves hair loss).

However, there are also various other causes of hair loss that may affect your pet:

  • Skin infections, which can be of a bacterial, viral or fungal nature; the ringworm infection will commonly cause hair loss
  • Allergic reactions to food, which will cause skin rashes and often the loss of fur
  • Inhalant allergies, that may not directly affect the pet’s coat, but will cause itchy skin and the pet is very likely to scratch, chew and bite the area, causing hair loss in some areas
  • Fleas
  • Stress, which may be due to an underlying disease that is not discovered or to a change in the dog’s environment or routine
  • Hormonal problems such as Cushing’s disease, hypo or hyperthyroidism
  • Cancer treatment such as chemotherapy, which will cause temporary hair loss

The hair loss may cause bald patches or may simply lead to the thinning of the coat. You should be able to recognize when your pet’s coat changes.

Dog Hair Loss Diagnosis

The vet will establish if the hair loss is normal and is due to the season changes. However, if there are additional symptoms (such as itchy skin, changes in fur color or bleeding), the vet will choose to perform a few tests such as:

  • Blood tests, which will evaluate the overall health of the pet and the levels of the hormones in the blood stream
  • Skin scraping test, if the dog is suspected to have an infection
  • Intradermal testing for allergies; alternatively a blood test can also give conclusive results
  • Food testing, if the vet suspects an allergic reaction to food

The vet may also ask you if the pet takes any medication or vitamins.

Treating Dog Hair Loss

Most of the times, the hair loss in dogs is temporary and the fur should grow back once the dog receives treatment for the condition causing hair loss.

The treatment can consist of:

  • Antibiotic treatment for skin infections
  • Topical creams that contain antibiotics or cortisone may be indicated for allergic reactions or allergies
  • Flea repellent products
  • Hormonal therapy
  • Supplementation of vitamins and fatty acids, which will strengthen the immune system and help with the health of the skin and coat as well
  • A change in diet
  • The use of a gently formulated shampoo