Dog hair loss can be a distressing problem for both pets and their owners. The medical term for dog’s losing hair is alopecia. When your dog starts to lose hair, you may first notice that its coat looks thinner and that it is starting to lose its luster. As the hair loss becomes more severe, you may start to notice bald patches. There are many things that can cause your dog to start losing hair, and it may take some detective work to figure out exactly what is happening.
Dog Hair Loss is Common
As many as ten percent of all dogs will experience hair loss at some point in their lives and there are many reasons why it could happen. Hair loss is not a sign that you are a bad pet owner. It is usually a sign of an underlying medical condition and if you notice it and treat it early you increase the chances of your pet making a full recovery. The good news is that there is plenty of support available for diagnosing and treating alopecia.
Identifying the Cause
The first thing that you should do is examine your dog’s fur. If you notice signs of skin irritation, then this could be causing the hair loss. Common external irritants that can cause alopecia include allergic reactions and the presence of parasites such as fleas, lice and mites. Your vet will be able to offer you advice on how to manage allergies with antihistamines in the short term while you find a way to prevent exposure to the substance that is causing an allergic reaction. They will also help you to get rid of any lice or fleas. Once the external irritants are gone, your pet’s fur should make a full recovery.
Sometimes the cause is not so obvious. Your pet’s hair may be thinning because your dog is reacting to something in its diet. Many commercial dog foods contain colors and preservatives that can irritate some dogs. If your dog’s hair is thinning, consider putting it on an all-natural diet to see if that helps.
In some cases, underlying health conditions can cause hair loss. Endocrine disorders such as hyperthyroidism and Cushing’s disease can cause hair loss. If your dog’s hair loss is not obviously being caused by allergens or other external sources then you should speak to a vet to rule out these conditions.
Stress and even pregnancy can cause hair loss. The good news is that once the pregnancy is over or the cause of the stress is removed, the dog will start to recover a full coat of hair. Stress can occur if a dog is introduced to a new environment, or if there is a change in your family – such as the introduction of a new pet or the birth of a child.
Some dogs are simply more susceptible to hair loss than others. For example, daschunds are likely to suffer hair loss as they get older. You can prevent hair loss by keeping their skin clean and preventing it from drying out.