Diagnosing Hair Loss in Dogs

Hair loss in dogs may be a seasonal shedding or may be a symptom of a medical condition. Diagnosing hair loss in dogs can be done judging by a few other symptoms and these may help you determine if the hair loss is normal or medical treatment is needed.

Causes of Hair Loss

Dog shedding occurs every year, as the dog naturally changes his fur. The shedding season for dogs is the spring or beginning of the summer. Dogs that spend time mostly indoors can shed all year long. Just like humans, dogs lose a few hairs every day. However, when the hair loss is more severe and your dog presents bald spots, you should monitor your dog for other symptoms and determine if he has a medical condition.

One of the reasons of hair loss is allergies. Food or inhalant allergies may cause bumps, rashes and itchy skin. The hair may fall out in these areas or the hair loss may be caused by the constant scratching and chewing.

Hormonal imbalance may result in hair loss due to dry skin or an excessive production of sebum that makes the hairs loose.

Skin infections may also cause hair loss. Stress can make the dog chew his fur and lose hair.

Cancer or Cushing’s disease can cause hair loss. Medication such as chemotherapy may also result in hair loss.

Alopecia is a genetic condition that causes temporary hair loss; however this is a rare disease.

An imbalanced diet causes hair loss. If your dog is deprived of certain vitamins or minerals, the coat will have a poor quality.

Diagnosing Hair Loss

In case the hair loss is caused by a medical condition, a proper diagnosis is needed so as to determine the right medication.

Let your vet know if your pet is under certain medication, as some drugs can have side effects such as hair loss.

The vet will also assess your dog’s diet to determine if it is balanced and if it may cause hair loss.

Watch out for any other symptoms, such as:

  • Bleeding skin
  • Lesions
  • A change in the coat’s color
  • Skin itchiness (indicating allergies or skin infections)
  • Increased thirst (indicative of thyroid problems)
  • Tumors
  • Dry skin
  • Dull coat

The vet will perform a few blood tests to determine the cause of hair loss. A skin sample may also be needed to diagnose bacterial or fungal infections.

Treating Hair Loss

Hair loss may be treated, depending on the underlying cause.

Allergies can be treated with corticosteroids and antihistamines or allergy shots. A dog that is allergic to food will get prescription food.

Fungal and bacterial infections can be treated with topical ointments containing antibiotics or oral antibiotics.

Immunity boosters are also helpful to prevent hair loss; get some fatty acids, vitamin E and selenium supplements.

Maintain a regular grooming schedule, so as to be able to determine if your pet is losing hair in excess, to detect any possible problems or to prevent skin infections caused by a poor grooming routine.