Common Dog Fur Problems

Dog fur problems are often the result of allergies, but can be caused by certain illnesses and disease. The condition of a dog's fur can be an indicator for many problems related to the immune system, so careful monitoring of any changes will be beneficial. If you notice any changes, such as patches of missing hair, poor coat luster or excessive scratching, one of several dog fur problems may be indicated.

Bald Spots

One of the most common dog fur problems is that of bald spots in the fur. If itching or inflammation are involved, a dog may be compelled to bite or excessively lick a certain spot on the coat. These are called hot spots, and may be accompanied by red, scaly or inflamed skin. Any one of the following may cause a bald spot to develop:

  • Exposure to toxins or contact dermatitis - Area of the skin that has been exposed to a toxic substance may become itchy and inflamed. Could result in loss of hair and development of temporary scales, bumps or seeping pustules.
  • Calluses - Results from chronic pressure on areas such as the elbows. Causes skin to thicken, development of a bald spot in the area and may become secondarily infected.
  • Vaccine or medication reaction - Called alopecia, and causes permanent hair loss at the site of an injection or where a topical ointment was applied. This condition may develop after several months.

Hair Loss

Dog fur problems that cause significant hair loss can sometimes indicate serious health risks. If the dog begins to lose hair all over the body, this may indicate a weakened immune system, creating the possibility for other serious infections and disease. There are many conditions that lead to hair loss, both in patterned patches or erroneously all over the body. The following are options to consider if your dog has large patches of lost hair:

  • Mange - Caused by mites and leads to large patches of hair loss, severe itching and self-trauma. The skin may darken, and redness and pustules may develop.
  • Ringworm - A fungal infection that is highly contagious and causes hair loss in patches, similar to mange. This condition is not usually life-threatening and may or may not lead to itching.
  • Allergies - Caused by a reaction to certain foods, pollen, dust, mold or flea bites. May cause bumps, itchy or scaly skin, patches of sparse hair or hair loss, redness and infection.
  • Cushing's disease - Caused by an increase of corticosteroids in the body, occurring naturally or due to long-term treatment with these drugs. Causes hair loss, sometimes in patterns, thinning of the skin, bruising and lethargy.

Poor Hair Coat

Poor hair coat is a dog fur problem that can be identified by lack of coat luster and dry, brittle or sparse patches of fur. If this condition persists for a long period of time, any one of the following may be indicated:

  • Poor diet - Low quality food may result in changes to the hair coat.
  • Hypothyroidism - Caused by decreased production of thyroid hormones and can lead to hair loss or dry and brittle coat.
  • Diabetes - Leads to thinning of the skin, patches of sparse hair that lose luster and may fall out.