Hair Loss in Dogs
Like humans, dogs can experience alopecia, or hair loss. There can be several reasons this condition and it is important to discuss it with your veterinarian to figure out the underlying cause as well as the best treatment options. Below is a list of the most common causes of hair loss:
Allergies are a frequent cause of hair loss in dogs. This may due to environmental triggers such as pollen, molds and dust mites, or due to parasitic triggers like fleas or mites. Food allergies are another possible cause of hair loss. Typical symptoms of an adverse allergic reaction include itchiness resulting in excess scratching, biting, and, of course, hair loss.
Infection or Infestation
An infestation with parasites such as fleas, ticks, and mites (scabies, mange) is another source canine alopecia. Along with hair loss around the ears, eyes, abdomen, and chest, signs your dog may have mites or fleas/ticks include inflammation, itching and redness. Bacterial or fungal infections, such as in the case of ringworm (which is actually a fungus), can also be attributed to hair loss in dogs. Symptoms of ringworm include circular or irregular hair loss, inflammation, and infected crusts.
Hyperadrenocorticism, also known as Cushing’s disease, is a condition caused by the prolonged exposure of the body’s tissue to excessive levels of the hormone cortisol. Symptoms of Cushing’s disease include hair loss, darkening of the skin, and the development of a pot-bellied abdomen. Cushing’s disease commonly occurs in middle-aged to senior dogs, though it can also affect dogs that overuse corticosteroid drugs.
There are some breeds of dog that are more genetically prone to baldness than others. First there are the hairless dogs that have been bred for the attribute such as the Chinese Crested, Mexican Hairless (Xolo), and American Hairless Terrier. Other dog breeds, such as the Doberman Pinscher, Dachshund, Chihuahua, Italian Greyhound and Whippet, sometimes suffer from patchy or pattern baldness on the outer ear, chest, back, thigh, or lower neck.
Pressure sores, also called bedsores or decubital ulcers, are localized injuries where the dog’s elbows or other bony pressure points (hips, hocks, etc.) come into contact with hard surfaces regularly. This constant pressure and friction causes the skin to callus, lose hair and sometimes crack and bleed. Pressure sores are more common older dogs, especially large or heavy breeds.