Common Causes Of Hair Loss In Dogs
If your dog with a once healthy coat begins to lose hair, you may be turning to the internet for any possible explanation.
Normal shedding is to be expected in our furry friends, but bald spots and hair loss can cause us to scratch our heads with confusion.
In this article we will go into the details of fur loss in dogs, and help you better understand how to best help your balding pup going forward.
The Difference Between Shedding & Fur Loss
Before we break down the potential causes of hair loss in our canine friends, it’s important to first understand the difference between normal shedding and actual fur loss.
Most dog breeds will experience normal shedding from time to time, making it important to understand what qualifies as abnormal.
Normal shedding qualifies as a thin layer of fur left behind on surfaces, an increased amount of discarded fur in early spring or early fall, small tumbleweeds of fur during increased shedding periods, or fur left behind on your comb as you brush your pup.
No matter how much fur is lost during these natural shedding processes, you should not see bald spots at any point.
Patchy fur or bald spots are not normal in your canine friend. Breeds that are known to shed more than others will still have a lush layer of fur after their shedding process, and should maintain a healthy coat appearance at all times.
If you are ever confused about the difference between standard shedding and abnormal fur loss, you can always reach out to your vet.
6 Main Causes Of Hair Loss In Dogs
Once you have determined that your dog’s fur loss is not equated to normal shedding, you will want to get to the bottom of their sudden decline in coat health.
To help you better understand your dog’s current coat situation, let’s discuss the most common causes of excessive fur loss.
Just like you and I, our pups can fall victim to seasonal allergies. Though our allergies tend to cause us to sneeze and sniffle, canine allergies often impact the appearance of their skin.
Ranging from skin irritation to actual fur loss, allergies are a common cause of changes in a dog’s coat health.
Dogs can experience environmental allergies, contact allergies, and even allergies to the food they consume each day.
Fur loss is often a result of the constant itching their allergies cause, causing a dog to scratch and bite their skin to the point of fur loss.
Not only can this lead to excessive fur loss that catches your attention, but it can also lead to chronic skin infections.
If you think your dog’s fur loss is a result of canine allergies, it’s best to speak with your vet about the best plan of action going forward.
Your vet can suggest the use of daily antihistamines, prescription allergy medications, monthly injections, and more.
2.) Fleas & Ticks
Fleas and ticks are everywhere in the world surrounding your pup. These critters take any opportunity to make a home on your dog, leading to a slew of skin complications to follow.
Fleas and ticks can cause unbearable itching in a dog, causing them to scratch and scratch to the point of fur loss.
Not only can the constant scratching alone cause fur loss in most dogs, but the secondary skin infections can as well.
Fleas and ticks can lead to a vicious cycle of skin irritation until the critters are banished for good, making it essential to prevent their presence when possible.
If you think your dog is experiencing hair loss due to having fleas or ticks, we suggest speaking with your vet about he best flea and tick prevention for your pup’s situation.
They can offer you suggestions on how to handle their current ectoparasite infestation, and how to prevent these crawling creatures from causing problems.
3.) Skin Infections
Skin infections are another possible cause of hair loss in our canine companions. While skin infections of any kind are often a result of some form of initial skin irritation, the resulting infection can cause a dog to experience fur loss.
When a dog has a bacterial or fungal skin infection, this will often cause them to bite and scratch at the irritated areas of their skin.
This can not only lead to fur loss in many situations, but sores on the skin as well. This cycle of skin irritation will often continue until the infection itself is resolved, and once the initial trigger is addressed.
Skin infections in dogs can lead to hair loss, skin redness, hot spots, skin odor, and other signs of discomfort.
If you think your furry friend has a skin infection of any kind, it’s best to reach out to your vet for further guidance.
These conditions often require antibiotics to treat effectively, as well as continued care to monitor their progress.
If your dog is experiencing sudden fur loss, skin mites could be to blame. Mange in dogs has been known to cause patches of fur loss as the condition progresses, especially fur loss around the eyes and on the limbs.
Whether it’s demodex or sarcoptic mange, both conditions can cause a change in coat appearance in our canine friends.
If you are noticing small patches of fur loss on your dog, it’s best to take them to the vet for a routine skin scraping.
This allows your vet to look for any tiny skin critters under a microscope, helping them to accurately diagnose the critter that’s to blame.
5.) Inadequate Nutrition
A well rounded diet can help your pup in multiple ways. Ranging from skin and coat health to weight management, proper nutrition can promote overall wellness in multiple ways.
A healthy and shining coat requires the intake of essential nutrients, all of which your dog should receive from their daily diet.
If you are feeding them a diet that is not AAFCO approved, your dog may not be getting what they need.
If you are ever concerned with your dog not receiving adequate nutrition from their current diet, we always suggest running the diet by your veterinarian.
They can easily review the ingredients and what the diet has to offer, and offer their professional opinion on the matter.
6.) Underlying Medical Conditions
If you are able to rule out all of the above when it comes to your dog’s hair loss, an underlying medical condition could be to blame.
Multiple health complications in dogs can impact their skin and coat health, resulting in fur loss in many cases.
Medical conditions that could lead to fur loss in dogs include:
- Thyroid disease
- Chronic skin conditions
- Autoimmune disease
- Cushing’s disease
- Other systemic illnesses.
These conditions will often cause other changes in appearance or behavior as well, so it’s important to relay all of this information to your veterinarian to find the proper diagnosis.
When To See Your Vet For Your Dog’s Hair Loss
So once you notice excessive fur loss in your dog, when should you take them to the vet?
While you may be tempted to tackle the issue on your own at home, we always suggest reaching out to your vet for guidance.
Overall skin and coat health management can always be dealt with at home, but fur loss to the point of bald spots should always receive professional care.
Not only should hair loss in dogs receive guidance from a veterinary professional, but this is especially true if your dog is displaying any other signs of skin irritation.
A trip to the vet will only help you solve the issue sooner, as they can offer insight you may not have received otherwise.
If your dog’s current skin situation is enough to cause concern, it always warrants a trip to the vet.
Promoting Skin & Coat Health In Dogs
Once you are able to get your dog’s fur loss under control, there are a few ways to promote overall skin and coat health at home.
These tricks can not only prevent any flare ups of skin irritation in the future, but offer your pup the skin comfort they deserve.
Flea & Tick Prevention
Ectoparasite prevention is one of the best ways to prevent fur loss and skin irritation in the future. Because fleas and ticks are such a common cause of skin irritation in our canine friends, a monthly prevention is the best way to prevent this complication from ever occurring.
Not only will this prevent fur loss in the future, but it can help to prevent any of the other health complications that ectoparasites can bring.
A diet that is packed with essential nutrition is one of the best ways to promote skin and coat health in dogs. If you are ever unsure of which diet is best for your canine friend, be sure to reach out to your vet for their suggestions.
Preventing Allergy Flare Ups
If you know your dog struggles with allergies at a certain point each year, be ready to act.
This can mean starting them on daily antihistamines, being aware of any developing skin irritation, and speaking with your vet about the best preventative options.
Frequent brushing is one of the easiest ways to improve your dog’s skin and coat health going forward.
Brushing helps to stimulate natural oil production on a dog’s skin, leading to a healthier coat overall.
Some dogs benefit from a quick brushing session each day, while others will do just fine with a couple sessions a week.
Omega Fatty Acid Supplements
Omega fatty acid supplements are a great way to promote skin and coat health in your dog.
These supplements act as a natural lubricant for the canine skin, as well as offering additional support to other aspects of their health as well.
Hair loss in dogs is always a symptom that we should take seriously. Be sure to review the information we discussed above, and you can better promote your dog’s coat health going forward.
My name is Amber. I am a dedicated animal lover that turned my passion into my career. I am a Licensed Vet Tech with 10 years of experience in veterinary medicine, but I recently took my career online to help spread accurate information on animal care. With how vast the online world is, I have a strong desire to ensure that the reader always walks away with helpful pet advice. With the experience I’ve gained from my time in this field, I have been able to travel the world, offering my services to as many animal rescues as I can find. If I am not at my laptop, or back home visiting family, you can find me somewhere in the world, cuddling every furry friend that I can find! Read more about us here.