Help! Why Is My Dog Losing Hair?
This post is written by our holistic veterinarian at "I and love and you", Dr. Angie Krause, DVM, CVA, CCRT.
There are many reasons your dog might have hair loss. Sometimes hair loss can start suddenly or it can happen gradually over a long period of time. It may be in just one area on your pup, like their tail, or it may be over their entire topside. In this article, I am going to give you the most common reasons for hair loss in dogs and what you can do to help.
What Causes Hair Loss In Dogs
- Thyroid disease: Hypothyroidism is the most common hormonal imbalance in dogs. An underactive thyroid can cause hair loss anywhere on the body, but is most commonly seen at the base of the tail. For some dog’s, thinning hair is their only symptom of thyroid disease. Other dogs may become tired, gain weight easily, may seek heat, or may experience repeated skin infections. Your veterinarian can do a blood test to see if your dog has an underactive thyroid. Most dogs respond well to thyroid hormone replacement given in pill form twice daily.
- Fungal Disease: Dogs can get fungal disease from other animals or the soil. These infections often appear as several small areas of hair loss with crusty skin and tend to grow in size. Some pups get itchy while others do not. Fungal infections are generally easy to diagnose and usually respond to treatment. Dogs that are stressed or have a compromised immune system are more prone to these infections.
- Bacterial Infection: Bacterial infections of the skin cause the hair on your dog to fall out, and are usually very itchy. It’s important to work with your veterinarian to find the underlying cause of the skin infection if it returns. Your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics for up to 6 weeks. It’s important to finish this course of medication to prevent antibiotic resistance. You can use my Gut Healing Bundle in conjunction, to continue repopulating your pup’s gut flora with good bacteria!
- Cushing's Disease: This common hormonal imbalance in dogs occurs when the adrenal glands make too much steroid hormone. Besides hair loss, Cushing’s Disease can cause your dog to drink more, urinate more, eat more, and pant more frequently. Your veterinarian can diagnose Cushing’s Disease with blood tests and an ultrasound of the liver and adrenal glands. Not all dogs with Cushing’s Disease require treatment with drugs. You and your veterinarian can decide together if your dog is a candidate for pharmaceutical therapy. You can learn more about alternative therapies for Cushing’s Disease here.
- Genetics (Alopecia X): Certain dog breeds such as Pomeranians, Miniature Poodles, Huskies, Samoyeds, Keeshonds and Chow Chows are more likely to have Alopecia X. The veterinary community isn’t really sure what causes this hair loss, which usually covers the entire back of dogs. There are several treatments such as melatonin, microneedling and other drugs that affect hormones. I have had a few cases that responded to Chinese herbal formulas.
If your dog is losing hair, it’s best to visit your veterinarian promptly. Getting an early diagnosis can make treatment easier and faster.
Sending all my love,