It's routine for dogs to shed hair, sometimes a lot. Many dog breeds such as Belgian Sheepdog, Bouvier des Flandres, and Alaskan malamute shed more hair than other breeds, so don't be worried if your couch, carpet, and clothes have amassed a lot of dog hair in a short time.
While it's common for dogs to shed hair occasionally, it can be alarming if your furry pal is frequently scratching itself or when you notice bald patches on your dog's body. This does often mean that there's an underlying medical problem.
Stress, allergies, parasitic infection, and Cushing's disease are often the significant causes of hair loss in canine. Alopecia, which is also common in humans, is a disorder that causes random bald patches. There are many reasons for sudden hair loss in dogs, so it’s often difficult to pinpoint a single cause.
We understand pet owners' troubling experiences when their furry friends start losing hair. We recommend taking your dog to the vet for a proper diagnosis of sudden hair loss. You'd be cleared if your dog has a congenital hair loss issue or an acquired problem.
Top Reasons for Hair Loss in Dogs
A few of the most common reasons for canine hair loss are as follows;
Don't confuse seasonal shedding with allergies or medical problems. Sometimes dogs can start losing a lot of hair mass when the weather turns warm, or the individual hair follicles become old and damaged. Many dogs shed year-round, while others may shed in a particular season. Seasonal shedding is common during summer to help dogs' skin breathe easily.
Regular grooming ensures that your dog doesn't shed excessively because of hair follicle damage and hair mats. Moving your dog to a moderate climate can also reduce seasonal shedding.
Dog allergy is one of the common causes of canine hair loss. Flea allergies, Atopy, and food allergies are common instigators of excessive hair loss. Although flea allergy and atopy don't necessarily cause shedding, excessive scratching, biting, and licking because of the allergy can cause sudden hair loss.
Hair loss from allergies is an acquired problem. Atopy allergy is acquired from environmental irritants like pollen, mold, and dust mites. Flea allergy is acquired from flea infestation when your dog plays in the backyard or with other infected animals. Many dogs are allergic to a particular food such as beef, dairy, wheat, corn, soy, etc. It's best to avoid feeding allergy-inducing food to your dog.
You can notice canine allergy when your dog is constantly scratching and biting its itches or when it shows signs of irritated, red areas on the skin.
The prescribed medications and dietary changes can quickly treat allergies in dogs.
Hyperadrenocorticism, better known as Cushing's disease, is a condition caused by the prolonged exposure of the body’s tissue to excessive hormone cortisol levels. The symptoms will include hair loss, darkening of the skin, and a pot-bellied abdomen's development.
It's more common in dogs six years or older. Dogs that have been overfed corticosteroid drugs can contract Cushing's disease.
Cushing disease's symptoms include:
- Increased frequency of eating, drinking, and urinating
- Potbellied or bloated like appearance
- Less energy
Your vet can better diagnose the disease by running different evaluations and recommend the best course of action for treatment.
Mange and other parasites
Mange is a skin disease common in dogs, birds, and reptiles. It's caused by microscopic parasitic mites that live on the surface of the skin and hair follicles. Mange infection is caused by mites, like scabies mites and red mange that can burrow into the skin. The mange can cause massive hair loss and itching.
In dogs, there are two significant forms of mange, each caused by different mites:
Sarcoptes scabies causes sarcoptic mange (also known as scabies). It's highly contagious and can easily pass from one dog to another. The symptoms include extreme itchiness, redness and rash, thick yellow crusts, and hair loss.
Demodectic Mange (also known as red mange or Demodex) is caused by a cigar-shaped mite called DemodexCanis. They're ever-present in the body but harmless. It may attack dogs with a weakened immune system.
Bacterial and Fungal Infections
Bacterial infection and fungal infection can cause severe skin itchiness, hair loss, redness, and odor. Observe hair loss patterns around ears, stomach, chest, and eyes to conclude bacterial or fungal infection in dogs.
Common types of pathogenic bacteria in dogs include:
- E Coli
Dogs infected with ringworm also shed hair. Unlike other infection, ringworm causes circular or irregular hair loss. When you notice itchy or scaly patches, it's time to take your dog to the veterinarian.
Alopecia is a hair loss syndrome that can be both temporary or permanent. It can be a result of skin infections such as ringworm in dogs.
After a complete examination, your veterinarian will advise the future course of treatment. Severe infections require antifungal shampoos, topical treatment, and drugs.
Underlying Medical Conditions
The underlying medical condition can cause massive hair fall in dogs. Pressure sores, trauma, abnormality in growth of the hair shaft, thyroid disorder, sex hormone imbalance, and skin cancer are a few of the common causes of hair loss in dogs.
The diagnosis to identify underlying medical conditions includes blood profile (blood testing), Biopsy (determine skin cancer or tumor), skin impression smears (bacterial identification), etc.
Your veterinarian will administer antibiotics, antifungals, steroids, immunosuppressive drugs or Anti-cytokine drugs, immunotherapy for the treatment depending on the medical condition.
Prevention of Hair Loss in Dogs
By adopting preventive measures, you can prevent hair loss and skin problems in dogs.
Reducing Shedding through Nutrition
Feed your dog a high-quality diet.
A healthy diet is a precursor to a healthy and thick coat in dogs. Be careful about using cheap can foods and home-prepared meals that usually lack nutrition. A high-quality diet contains all the essential nutrients, including Vitamin D, folic acid, and zinc, which helps keep the dog's immune system strong.
Add Olive Oil or Flaxseed oil to Dog's food.
One teaspoon (5 mL) per 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of body weight is an excellent place to start. These oils contain omega-3 fatty acids that help calm inflamed skin, decrease dandruff, and improve overall coat texture.
Give your dog occasional "human food."
Occasionally feed your dog human food such as fruits (apples and bananas), cucumbers, and cooked lean meat. However, be careful about feeding food items such as chocolate, avocado, grapes, milk products, and onion.
Reducing Shedding through Grooming
Regular grooming is as essential as a dog’s daily diet and exercise. Over time, the dog’s coat gets tangled to create mats which can be a painful experience. An unkempt coat causes frequent and constant itching and scratches. Constant licking can cause excessive shedding. Grooming will help remove excess and loose fur and redistribute your dog’s skin oils into its fur.
Use de-shedding tools before spring season when the dog’s coat begins to fall off. Consider bathing them with dog shampoo made for flea and tick control.
For more details and Information check this infographic.
Get in touch with Urban Pet Hospital & Resort the best doggy daycare in Urbandale to learn more about dog shedding and preventive measures.