Dog Losing Hair

Dog Losing Hair: Signs, Causes, and Treatment for Dog Hair Loss

A dog losing hair is one of the most common symptoms of dermatological disease in canines. A dog losing hair is medically termed alopecia.

The signs of dog hair loss are areas of uneven fur coverage or patches of bald spots. 

Causes of a dog losing hair in patches and scabs are diseases such as bacterial pyoderma, mange, zinc-responsive dermatosis, ringworm, hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, and flea allergy dermatitis. 

The treatment for a dog losing hair depends on the underlying cause. Commonly prescribed treatments are antibiotics, antiparasitics, thyroid hormone supplementation, zinc supplementation, anti-itching medication, and omega fatty acids. 

What is Hair Loss in Dogs?

Hair loss in dogs or alopecia is the complete or partial loss or thinning of hair across a dog’s body. Hair loss or alopecia is caused by various dermatological conditions affecting the skin. 

Parasitic infections, allergies, autoimmune diseases, dietary insufficiency, and endocrine diseases are among the most common causes of alopecia in dogs. 

Alopecia is partial or generalized depending on the causative agent. Visible lesions accompanying alopecia include redness, scaling, crusting, lichenification, hyperpigmentation, and itchiness. 

What are the Common Causes of a Dog Losing Hair?

The common causes of a dog losing hair are listed below.

  • Mange: Mange is a dermatological condition caused by mites such as Demodex, Sarcoptes, and Cheyletiella. The disease presents as patterns of alopecia, redness, and excoriation on the face, elbows, and body. The mite's burrowing action causes intense pruritus and alopecia on parts of the body. 
  • Allergic dermatitis: Allergic dermatitis is when the skin experiences hypersensitivity symptoms such as redness, itching, and hair loss. Common allergens in dogs are pollen, food proteins, medications, and parasites. 
  • Hypothyroidism: The thyroid hormones T3 and T4 are important in completing the phases of hair development. A lack of thyroid hormone causes symmetrical thinning of the fur around the trunk and legs, which is noticeable on the right and left sides of the body. 
  • Cushing’s disease: Cushing’s disease or hyperadrenocorticism is the abnormally high production of ACTH or adrenocorticotropic hormone. ACTH stimulates the production of cortisol, which affects the cyclic regulation of the hair follicle, leading to hair loss. 
  • Pyoderma: Skin infections with bacteria or fungi are common in dogs. Itchy dogs are more likely to develop pyotraumatic dermatitis. Fungal infections are acquired through direct contact with contaminated or infected dogs.  

Is Dog Hair Loss Genetic?

Yes, dog hair loss is genetic. Some dogs are affected by hereditary diseases such as Alopecia X, alopecia areata, and certain non-inflammatory follicular dysplasias. 

Certain breeds, such as Doberman Pinschers and Dachshunds, are predisposed to hair loss. The hair loss pattern is symmetrical and unresponsive to commonly used hair loss treatments. Dogs affected with genetic hair loss have structural differences in the hair follicles that affect their growth. 

Is Dog Hair Loss Caused by Allergies?

Yes, dog hair loss is caused by allergies. Mild allergies cause redness, itching, and swelling. Dog allergies include flea allergic dermatitis and food hypersensitivity, which cause generalized alopecia.

Itching from alopecia leads to further traumatic hair loss due to persistent scratching and friction. The cause of any specific type of dog allergy is not well established but is believed to be hereditary. 

How do Vets Diagnose the causes of Hair Loss in Dogs?

Vets diagnose the causes of hair loss in dogs by a historical examination, skin scraping, using a Wood’s lamp, culture testing, biopsy, and hematology.

A historical examination analyzing the onset and duration of hair loss in dogs is important for diagnosing the cause. The veterinarian uses the information to assess possible exposure to allergens such as smoke, aerosols, or any other substance that the dog has been exposed to which are able to cause allergic hair loss. 

Skin scraping is the microscopic evaluation of the skin cells to determine if parasitic mites are causing skin problems. A scalpel blade scrapes a small portion of the skin's surface, and the sample is mounted on a glass slide. Mange is definitively diagnosed when adult mites or mite eggs are present in the sample. 

A Wood’s lamp is a handy tool for identifying species of fungi that cause skin disease. Microsporum canis is a fungal species of pathologic importance in dogs. The fungi fluoresce under the wood’s lamp, which is usually where patches of bald and circular-shaped lesions are located. 

Culture testing involves petri plates containing agar for growing pathogenic bacteria or fungi that are used to diagnose dog skin diseases. Hair or skin samples are placed inside and incubated for several days to let the pathogens grow. The resulting sample is tested for identification and susceptibility to medication.

Biopsy identifies non-resolving alopecia, which is a symptom of skin cancer in dogs. The biopsy process involves taking a small portion of skin tissue and examining the cellular makeup for signs of neoplastic disease that is able to cause hair loss. 

Hematology or a blood evaluation determines endocrine diseases such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease. A blood sample is taken and processed to determine the amount of T3 and T4 in the blood. Cushing’s disease is diagnosed using an ACTH stimulation test or a low-dose dexamethasone suppression test. 

What are Treatments for Dog Hair Loss?

The treatments for dog hair loss are listed below.

  • Antibiotics: Pyoderma infections are treated with antibiotics. Bacteria such as the Staphylococcus species are commensal organisms that cause opportunistic infection. Commonly used antibiotics are amoxicillin or amoxicillin-clavulanate, clindamycin, cephalexin, and topical ointments with mupirocin or silver sulfadiazine. 
  • Antiparasitics: Mange is highly treatable with antiparasitic medication that effectively kills the mites inhabiting the skin. The medication works for at least 30 days to prevent and kill existing mites and end their life cycle. Commonly used antiparasitic medications for mites are isoxazolines and avermectins. 
  • Antifungals: Dermatophytosis is treated with antifungal agents. Ringworm and Malassezia dermatitis are common in dogs and are treated with medication, immunostimulation, and topical therapy. Antifungal shampoos are prescribed with oral medication and triazole antifungals such as itraconazole or fluconazole. 
  • Mineral Supplementation: Zinc and copper are important minerals affecting dog coat health. Some dogs have mineral-deficient dermatoses due to inadequate amounts of dietary copper and zinc, leading to dull and epilating fur. Daily supplementation is prescribed to dogs affected to restore proper copper and zinc levels. 
  • Hormone Supplementation: Dogs with Cushing’s disease or hypothyroidism require supplementation of the lacking hormones. Cushing’s disease is managed with cortisol-reducing drugs such as trilostane. Hypothyroidism is treated by providing a synthetic thyroid hormone called levothyroxine. 

What Can You Do for Dog Hair Loss Caused by Food Allergies?

You can do a food elimination trial for dog hair loss caused by allergies. The first step to treating food allergies is identifying the allergen causing the problem and avoiding exposure. A veterinarian guides pet owners in conducting a diet trial in which hypoallergenic food is exclusively fed to the dog for at least 8 weeks. 

A new food source is introduced to monitor signs of allergic response once the allergic signs disappear. The food is considered safe when no signs of allergic reaction occur within 2 weeks. 

Allergy testing for food allergies in dogs involves sedating the dog, shaving a side of the body, and exposing it to multiple allergens. Hematological allergy testing is available but is a more expensive form of determining allergies. A limited-ingredient diet is suitable for dogs with prolonged allergies.

What Can You Do for Dog Hair Loss Caused by Fleas?

You can do regular anti-tick and flea-preventative treatments for dog hair loss caused by fleas. Dog flea allergies are highly manageable with proactive preventative treatment and environmental control. 

Apply anti-tick and flea oral or spot-on medication to all household dogs to treat every dog. The medication is effective for 30-90 days and is available over the counter. 

Clean the dog’s bedding regularly with mild disinfectant soap to destroy the shed flea eggs. Clothes, carriers, collars, and cages require a thorough cleaning. 

Topical therapy with anti-tick and flea shampoos helps refresh the skin and deter fleas from coming close to the dog’s body. 

Consult a veterinarian for a specific dog flea allergy treatment and flea-control plan for each dog’s needs. 

How Can CBD Oil Help Dog Hair Loss?

CBD oil helps dog hair loss by soothing itchiness, inflammation, and pain. CBD acts on the ECS or Endocannabinoid System, a complex mechanism that regulates primary bodily functions. 

The ECS influences metabolism, stress, memory, pain control, and inflammatory and immune responses. Ongoing research on CBD oil for dog allergies has shown that it reduces inflammatory cytokine production, relieving redness and itchiness. 

A trial conducted to determine the effects of CBD for dogs with atopic dermatitis showed that “65% of the CBD dogs have at least a 50% decrease in itching and chewing” compared to the non-CBD group, according to CannPal, an Australian animal therapeutics company. 

There is much anecdotal evidence from pet owners stating that CBD has improved the quality of life in their dogs with chronic skin conditions. Consult a veterinarian for the proper use of CBD in dogs with hair loss.  

How Much CBD Oil can I give to my Dog with Hair Loss?

You can give your dog with hair loss 1–5 mg CBD for every 10 pounds of body weight. Consult a veterinarian to establish and determine the most appropriate CBD dosage. 

Ask the veterinarian about the correct dosage and formulation and how it affects dogs. Learn how to check each CBD product and determine the intended effect of these ingredients. 

Check the composition and dosage, research unfamiliar ingredients, inspect the laboratory analysis, and cross-reference the contents of the laboratory reports. 

The exact CBD oil dosage for pets depends on the pet’s precise weight and underlying condition using the CBD product. Start giving CBD at lower doses before gradually increasing. 

Is CBD Oil Safe for Dogs?

Yes, CBD oil is safe for dogs. CBD for animals supports health and helps with specific issues such as pain, occasional discomfort, anxiety, and inflammation when used correctly and responsibly. The EVN CBD Oils are formulated for daily use and are safe to use as part of multimodal treatment and wellness plans. 

Buy CBD from trusted brands that provide ingredient lists and third-party laboratory testing results, which provide the full contents of each CBD product. Consult a veterinarian if seeking specific brand recommendations.

Can Ringworm in Dogs cause Hair Loss?

Yes, ringworm can cause hair loss in dogs. Ringworm causes circular patches of flaky alopecia. The fungi Microsporum and Trichophyton are the causative agents of hair loss caused by dermatophytosis in dogs. The dermatophyte invades hair follicles and causes hair to fall out. The fungi feed on the keratin found in hair and skin, which causes alopecia or ringworm in dogs