Why is My Dog Losing Hair?

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Every dog sheds. No matter the breed or the environment, your dog will shed, especially during hot summer months, in order to regulate their body heat.

Sometimes it’s a problem, at least for you, since dog hair will get everywhere. But shedding isn’t the real problem.

dog losing hair on tail

As with anything that your dog does, shedding is okay, but too much shedding is where you should be worried.

How do you know when your dog is shedding too much?

When Shedding is Too Much

Unless you have a hairless dog (like the American Hairless Terrier,) your dog will face this natural process.

There are even some dog breeds that can blow their coats, which is a colloquial term referring to when they switch from their winter coat to their summer coat.

Dogs that are more suited for colder temperatures, such as Siberian Huskies and German Shepherds, will regularly blow their coats. Blowing out coats can leave you with bags full of fur, but even this type of shedding isn’t too much.

According to vets, too much shedding isn’t about the amount of shed hair, but about whether there is enough hair growing back.

Veterinarians state that your dog is losing too much hair when you start to see their skin. Patchy hair and uneven hair loss are a cause for concern.

Even on dogs that blow their coats, there will always be an underlying coat covering their skin, which means that even bags full of hair aren’t a reason for worry. Patches where skin can be seen, however, is a problem.

This is one of the most common symptoms of illness in dogs, and one that is most conspicuous.

Other weird behaviors that accompany hair loss, such as itching, means that there’s definitely something wrong and that it’s better to get it checked.

Why is my dog losing hair?

dog losing hair

By Joel Mills (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 licence)

If you have a dog that is suffering from hair loss, there are a few possible reasons.

Once you narrow down the accompanying symptoms, you can better determine the root cause and inform your vet, so they can provide the best treatment.

Allergies

Allergies are one of the most common reasons for hair loss. Thankfully, allergies are pretty easy to address once you have found the allergen itself.

Typical allergy causes are flea bites, as well as food ingredients and pollen.

If you know which allergen is causing your dog’s hair loss, you may not need to call a vet to address the problem. However, vets can also give medication and provide ways to get your dog to avoid the allergen source.

Other symptoms for allergies include itching, as well as redness on the skin.

Here’s a video explaining more on what to do about dog allergies.

Infection

While there are some causes that are external, the root of your dog’s hair loss can also be internal. Common sources of infection are mites, bacteria, and worms.

The treatment for an infection varies depending on the source of the infection, and infections are a definite reason to take your dog to the vet.

Your vet will then administer the necessary medicine to help alleviate your dog’s symptoms.

Hormonal Imbalances

Sometimes, hormonal imbalances can be the reason for the loss of your dog’s hair.

Hormonal imbalances often manifest as disorders, such as a thyroid disorder and adrenal gland deficiency, which in turn causes your dog to gradually lose hair.

In older dogs, this is a common occurrence, as your pet tends to take a dip in health during their old age. Nonetheless, whether they’re old or young, you may want to bring your dog to the vet.

Your vet will be able to discuss treatment plans to help cure or alleviate your dog’s hormonal imbalances.

When to Bring Your Dog to the Vet

A patchy coat is already a good enough reason to call your vet and set your appointment, especially if you feel like your dog needs it.

If you’re short on time and money, however, you could wait a few days to see if the patch clears up on its own. After all, it may just be a reaction to an allergen (such as fleas or pollen) that your dog’s immune system can take care of on its own.

However, if your dog continues to have patchy fur that lasts for days and worsens over time, you may want to consider setting up an appointment with your vet.

If patchy skin is accompanied by other symptoms, this is a red flag that that means you should get your dog checked.

These symptoms include itching, redness, lesions, and odors that your dog often doesn’t give off. Changes in behavior, such as irritability and sheepishness, is also a red flag.

Dog Losing Hair Treatment

Treatment for your dog’s hair loss varies depending on its cause, but it mostly consists of a few base treatments that you can also administer to help your dog manage their illness.

Of course, it would be best to discuss this with your veterinarian to ensure that it doesn’t interfere with any other treatment options.

dog losing hair on tail

By Mariposa Veterinary Wellness Center (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 licence)

Aside from what your vet prescribes, here are a few ways to help your dog manage their hair loss.

Nutrition

Ensuring that your dog is getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals they need is the first step toward a healthy coat.

Dogs with an unhealthy diet will definitely show physical symptoms, hair loss being the most common of them, as their bodies will devote all their resources to the vital organs and leave the coat by the wayside.

An unhealthy diet can also cause other complications, like a weakened immune system, which can lead your dog to more easily contracting viruses and diseases.

A diet that is full of protein, as well as the necessary vitamins and minerals, is necessary to keep your dog big and strong.

Additionally, you can add certain vitamins and minerals that help your dog grow their hair back much faster.

You can ask your vet if there are any diets that can be viable for your dog, or any medicinal supplements that can aid in hair regrowth.

Aside from boosting their diet to be healthier, changing their food can also help to avoid ingredients that are causing a problem. This is mostly to weed out any possible food allergens that lead to hair loss.

Controlling Allergens

Speaking of allergens, ensuring that your dog isn’t exposed to any known allergens is a surefire way to avoid your dog losing their hair.

Controlling allergens can be as simple as not feeding your dog a certain food, for example, but sometimes it can be trickier.

What if your dog needs exercise but is allergic to pollen? Allowing them to run in a different area than normal can help, and searching out more advanced solutions is wise.

Your vet, as well as a specialist, such as an animal behaviorist, can help you figure out changes to their routine that are viable for both you and your dog.

Additionally, your vet can administer medicine to help your dog deal with allergies, reducing their reaction altogether.

Shampoo

Itchiness and irritation go hand in hand. Irritated skin causes itchiness, which when scratched, can make the irritation even worse.

Specially formulated shampoos and sprays address this problem, soothing the skin to make it less irritated, therefore removing the need to itch.

Commonly, your vet may recommend hydrocortisone shampoos and sprays to help your dog deal with itchiness and irritation. Hydrocortisone will not only fix the issue, but speed up the recovery of irritated skin.

why is my dog losing hair

Additionally, make sure that your dog isn’t coming into contact with materials that are making their skin even more irritated.

Especially when your dog is already dealing with hair loss, be vigilant about what comes into contact with your dog’s fur.

Be sure to avoid using shampoos that aren’t made for dogs, especially shampoos for humans, as they are most likely to contain ingredients that will irritate your pet’s skin.

Common Areas of Hair Loss

Where your dog is losing hair can also be a telltale sign of the cause behind this issue.

Of course, when you notice hair loss in a telling spot, it’s best not to jump to conclusions; consult a vet, or wait and see how it develops.

In any case, here’s what to keep an eye on.

Tail

Your dog losing hair on their tail is caused by allergies and flea bites. However, a telling sign is when your dog has hair loss around the anus or the base of the tail.

Hair loss in this area may be due to worms, which your dog will then lick excessively due to the irritation.

If you see your dog licking this area, keep an eye on if they show other symptoms, such as weird behaviors, lethargy, and a lack of appetite.

Belly

Because it is the most exposed, hair loss on your dog’s belly is often caused by bug bites and mites.

Sometimes, this hair loss is nothing to worry about, as it is just a reaction to the bite itself and will go away on its own.

However, mites can also bring disease to your pet, such as the Deodex mite, which results in mange.

Sometimes, hair loss on the belly is also caused by allergies from other sources, such as those present on the floor or on your lawn. The chemicals you use to clean your floors or the bug spray you use on your grass could be the root issue.

Back

When it comes to hair loss, this is often the most prominent area you’ll find it in. This is because it’s an easy place for your dog to reach.

dog losing hair

Your dog losing hair on their back is often due to fleas and mites, but can also be a result of internal problems, such as diseases or illnesses.

It’s important to note that the fur won’t simply fall out on its own, even when afflicted with a disease. Often times, your dog will scratch and bite at the area, ripping out hair in an effort to relieve pain or irritation.

The more they scratch, the more hair falls out, the more irritated the skin becomes, and the cycle continues indefinitely.

Around the Eyes

Also called periocular alopecia, hair loss around the eyes is also very common for dogs.

While mites and fleas can be a factor, which then carry illnesses, hair loss around the eyes can also be due to a problem with the eyes themselves, rather than a skin condition.

Of course, your dog will bat at their eyes if they’re irritated, which may lead you to misinterpret this symptom as an issue of the skin, rather than the eye.

Dry eyes in dogs, which can be caused by foreign materials getting into the eye, or any other trauma that causes eye damage, may result in redness and irritation. This will then result in your dog pawing at their eyes, which will cause irritation in the skin.

To treat hair loss around the eyes, your vet may want to rule out any possible issues with your dog’s eyes. Exams will be administered to your dog, so as to ensure they aren’t suffering from eye lesions or defects.

Here’s a video showing more information on how to treat a dog losing hair.

Being Responsible Pet Owners

Our furry friends are a part of the family. As responsible pet owners, we should always be on the lookout for problems in their health, no matter how benign or common it may seem.

While they may seem typical or as something that will go away on its own, skin conditions, such as hair loss, can be a symptom of a far more serious underlying condition.

However, no matter the reason for the hair loss, whether it’s serious or benign, we still owe it to our dogs to take good care of them.

While it may seem like it’s not a big deal, alopecia will always cause stress on your dog, no matter the severity of the problem.

Bringing your dog to the vet will help you manage your dog’s symptoms, and help your dog recover back to full health.


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