Five Common Causes of Dog Hair Loss

Dog hair loss can have a number of causes, ranging from disease or infection to a psychiatric disorder. Some cases of dog alopecia are hereditary, while others are the result of medical treatments such as chemotherapy. Here are some of the most common causes of dog hair loss.

Dermatitis in Dogs with Hair

Dermatitis is a skin condition that could cause irritation and alopecia in dogs with hair. Allergic, contact or atopic dermatitis could occur if your dog has a sensitivity to any of the following substances:

  • Antibiotics
  • Metals
  • Rubber
  • Wool
  • Plastic
  • Chemicals or dyes
  • Deodorizers
  • Irritants such as poison ivy
  • Fleas
  • Food additives or food intolerance

Another type of dermatitis is called acral lick dermatitis. This is when your dog licks himself obsessively due anxiety, boredom, or stress, rather than skin irritation. Acral lick dermatitis is a psychological condition that can result in hair loss.

Mange Caused by Parasites

Mange is another skin condition, caused by parasites, that can lead to alopecia in dogs with hair. Types of mange include:

  • Demodectic
  • Sarcoptic
  • Cheyletiella

Treatment of mange will require skin samples and treatment may be more or less difficult depending on the type of mange involved. Symptoms of mange, other than dog hair loss, include:

  • Scaliness
  • Redness
  • Blisters
  • Ulcers
  • Itching

Hypothyroidism Causes Hormonal Imbalance

Hypothyroidism is the most common hormonal disease affecting dogs. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland ceases to function properly, and your dog begins to suffer a hormonal imbalance. Treatment is as simple as a daily hormonal supplement medication. Symptoms other than hair loss include:

  • Dry or brittle hair
  • Recurrent bacterial and yeast infections
  • Lethargy
  • Obesity
  • Slow heart rate
  • Changes in skin pigmentation

Alopecia Due to Ringworm

Ringworm is a fungal skin infection; there are several different types of fungus that can cause ringworm. Symptoms of ringworm, other than dog hair loss, include:

  • Scaliness
  • Crusty areas
  • Pustules
  • Vesicles
  • Itchiness
  • Draining

Cushing's Disease Causes Alopecia

Dog alopecia is also a symptom of Cushing's disease. Cushing's disease is a serious chronic illness caused by a hormonal imbalance that occurs when your dog's adrenal gland no longer functions properly. Treatment can involved surgery, but is usually limited to medication. Sometimes dogs who have been on corticosteroids for a long time develop a reversible form of Cushing's disease that can be cured by tapering off the steroids.

Symptoms other than hair loss include:

  • Thinning of skin
  • Hyper-pigmentation
  • Easy bruising
  • Seborrhea
  • Blackheads
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Abdominal swelling