Your dog is probably one of your best friends. Like human friends, canine friends aren’t perfect. They sometimes make mistakes and they may have traits you find more irritating than endearing. When it comes to dogs, shedding falls into that latter category.
Especially with some breeds, like “German shedders,” dog hair on your clothes, furniture, and floors is perfectly normal and to be expected. You may not notice it as much, but you shed, too. In dogs (like in humans) hair loss may be symptomatic of a serious problem. If your pooch isn’t prone to shedding but suddenly does, if the shedding is so excessive it causes bald patches or if your suddenly shedding dog is also scratching and biting his skin, that’s abnormal. It’s time to pinpoint the problem and seek a solution. Here are five common culprits of canine alopecia.
Your Pet Is Infected or Infested
A flea infestation is a common cause of worrisome hair loss in dogs. Mites, mange, ringworm or other bacterial or fungal infections can also lead to hair loss. Check your dog’s hair for signs of fleas, flea larvae or flea waste. If you don’t find any, check for a circular patch that slowly gets larger, which can be a sign of ringworm. If you suspect mites or mange, your vet can diagnose these. All of these problems are treatable, but some (fleas) are easier than others (mange).
Your Pet Has Cushing’s Disease
Cushing’s disease causes your dog’s adrenal glands to overproduce cortisol, which can be life-threatening. Most cases of this disease are caused by a pituitary gland tumor, although adrenal gland tumors and prolonged steroid use are less-common causes. If your dog’s hair loss is accompanied by increased appetite and thirst, a bloated or pot-bellied appearance, or unusual lethargy, ask your vet to test for Cushing’s disease.
Your Pet Is Stressed
If your dog’s hair loss manifests around the same time of stressful events such as a move, conflicts in the household, a death in the family or a resident moving out, stress may be to blame. Dogs can be incredibly intuitive! You’re not imagining that your canine companion has emotions: he does. Lavish your stressed-out pup with love and attention, and talk to your vet about food additives or medications that may help.
Your Pet Has a Hormonal Imbalance
In dogs as in humans, the thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate metabolism. Hypothyroidism occurs when not enough of these hormones are produced. Common symptoms include hair loss and weight gain. Your vet can perform a blood test to detect or rule out hypothyroidism.
Your Pet Has a Pressure Sore or Ulcer
When hair loss occurs around elbows, hips and other bony areas that regularly come in contact with hard surfaces, your dog may have developed a sore due to pressure or friction. This cause of canine hair loss is most common in older, large-breed dogs.
Your Pet Is Experiencing an Allergic Reaction
Dogs may experience allergic reactions to foods, medicines, shampoos, insect bites, dust mites, pollen, etc. If you’ve ruled out the aforementioned common causes of excess shedding, it’s time to rule out allergies. Can you recall changing what you feed your dog or the products you use on him in the days or weeks leading up to the hair loss? Is your dog sneezing, coughing and experiencing watery eyes?
Pinpointing what your dog is allergic to begins with trial and error, typically beginning with changing foods and grooming products to find out if anything provides relief. Your vet can also help you discover the culprit and provide treatment.
If your beloved pet begins to lose his hair inexplicably, don’t panic – but do act. While the most common causes of canine hair loss are treatable, some causes are serious and can lead to complications if not treated.
At Embassy Studio, we don’t treat dogs but we do treat clients who love their furry friends. Hair loss can affect anyone, including man’s best friend. If you are experiencing thinning hair or hair loss it’s important to discover the cause of your hair loss and to understand the restoration options available to you.
Photo Credit: Josch13 Via Pixabay