When your dog is constantly scratching itself and beginning to lose more hair than you’d like then you’ve got yourself a problem on your hands. The truth is that dogs actually do shed some hair regularly, pretty much like a snake would molt, or you would shed skin. So, shedding of hair is normal until it becomes so bad it is actually noticeable. There are different reasons that could cause your dog to develop bald spots. In the same vein, there are many ways you can prevent the condition from developing in your dog as well as treat it should you be facing such problem currently.
Before we head on to the hard stuff, some general points you need to know:
The skin is the largest organ in every mammal’s body, and that includes you and your dog. It is often said that if you want to tell how healthy your dog is, check out his coat. From a dog’s coat, you can find out if your pet is suffering from a parasitic infection, or if the dog is nutritionally lacking.
A dull-looking coat with large amounts of hair being lost at a time (save the expected winter coat to summer coat loss) is an indication of trouble and you should act fast. A shiny, bouncy coat, with no bald spots or hair loss, is amazing! And you deserve a high-five for taking good care of your dog.
Symptoms Accompanying Hair Loss
With hair loss usually comes some other textbook symptoms. Some of them might come before the actual hair loss begins while others might occur alongside hair loss. Here are some of those symptoms:
- Itching: usually, the dog will scratch constantly
- Skin patches usually reddish in color
- Stinky skin: this is usually as a result of a fungal infection (east to be precise)
- Dandruff resulting in flaky, white, dry skin
- Licking: your pooch might continuously lick the affected part to ease the discomfort from the itch
- In extreme cases, your dog might even nip or bite the skin to relieve the discomfort
Causes of Hair Loss in Dogs
There are quite a number of factors that can contribute to your dog’s loss of hair. Let’s quickly go through some of them.
Seasonal Change: Sometimes, hair loss might not be as a result of a poor diet, an allergy or an illness. It might simply be that your dog is preparing for a new season. If you have a dog that sheds, then expect him to lose some hair sometime during the spring and autumn. Coats grown in the winter to help maintain their body temperature will be shed during the spring as temperatures rise. This is your dog’s body’s way of adjusting to a warmer weather. Ensure that you brush his coat daily to help with the process.
Parasites: Parasites are nuisances that not only cause discomfort but also cause loss of hair in dogs. Make sure you consult your vet immediately if you suspect that your pet has any of the following parasites: ticks, fleas, worms or mites.
Fungal Infection: There are two primary suspects when it comes to fungal infection and those are: yeast and Candida. Recuperating dogs, as well as dogs suffering from malnutrition, are particularly susceptible to yeast infections. And because they are very contagious, ensure you see a vet once you suspect it.
Ringworm is another one to be wary about. Forget the name, it’s actually still a fungal infection. It gets its name from its appearance. To curb the spread of the infection or a re-infection of your dog, ensure that beds and toys are properly disinfected.
Poor Nutrition: Different dogs require different diets to keep healthy so the fact that its dog food doesn’t mean that it’s good for your dog. And if you decide to cook for him, then maybe you should find out a bit about nutrition for your dog so you can pack his meal with minerals and vitamins that are good for him.
Genetics and medical conditions: Some common conditions that could lead to hair loss include:
- Hypothyroidism: An underperforming thyroid can cause your dog to lose hair. Medication can help reverse the condition and cause the thyroid to secrete enough thyroxine.
- Cushing’s Disease: Over-secretion of cortisol by the adrenal glands in your dog can cause your dog to lose hair. However, it is treatable. Just consult your vet.
- Addison’s disease (hypoadrenocorticism): This occurs when there’s an under-secretion of cortisol. It’s the opposite of what we just discussed: Cushing’s disease.
- Alopecia X: When there’s an imbalance in the sex hormones in your dog, it leads to Alopecia X which is also known as Black Skin Disease. Coupled with insufficient secretion of melatonin, it could lead to a darkening of the skin over a period of time. It’s not very common but it is treatable.
As for genetics, some dogs just do not grow hair around certain parts of their bodies like around their ears, in between their eyes and around their necks as well. If this is the case, no medication is necessary, but then you should use some sunscreen around those areas especially in the summer.
Preventing Dog Hair Loss
- Make sure you deworm your dog in addition to administering preventatives regularly for bugs like ticks and fleas.
- Ensure that you feed your dog with proper diet; something that is packed with minerals and vitamins. And avoid unnatural foods containing sugar or artificial flavor.
- Stress can cause hair loss, so help your dog avoid it or if it’s unavoidable, help him prepare for it.
- Always go for an annual medical check-up with your vet.
- Natural conditioners and shampoos for dogs are great at preventing skin irritation as well as dry skin.
Treatment of Dog Hair Loss
There are different options for the treatment of bald spots on your dog and they include oral/topical antibiotics or antifungals, steroids, immunosuppressive drugs/anti-cytokine drugs, immunotherapy (oral or injection), insulin therapy, thyroid medication/hormonal therapy, surgery.
Recovery of hair
Depending on how easily your pets get skin infections, you might need to treat hair loss frequently. Ensure that you follow instructions from the vet and follow up on all your appointments. Check out your dog’s coat regularly and report any adverse change or any other concern to your vet. An adjustment in treatment might be possible.
Bald spots on your dog shouldn’t be such a terrible thing as long as you know what to do. Well, now you do!