So you have a dog you notice losing its fur. The hair loss may either come as patches, thinning, or just be generalized hair loss. So why is your dog balding? What are some of the common causes for hair loss? How can it be diagnosed?
The possible cause of hair loss can depend on the hair loss pattern, the age of the dog, and signs such as itching or scaly skin.
Hair loss Pattern
Though it may not be an absolute, the pattern of hair loss can give a clue to what is causing it.
Hair loss that is concentrated near the tail base and the hindlimbs may indicate a flea allergy. Fleas for some reason love the hindlimbs and the tail base therefore leading to hair loss in those regions
Hair loss that begins around the eyes and muzzle especially in young dogs may indicate evidence of mange most commonly demodex.
Circular lesions: With circular patches especially in areas where the hair easily falls out may indicate possible ring worm. Ringworm is a fungus that concentrates around the hair shaft leading to hair loss
Hair loss concentrated around the trunk may indicate hair loss secondary to some type of hormonal imbalance such as a thyroid or Cushing’s disease
Age of Dog With Hair loss
Common causes of hair loss in younger dogs
Ring worm- typically involves circular lesions in the skin with scaling. Hair also easily falls out near the patchy areas
Mange: There are 2 types of mange that younger dogs typically get. One is sarcoptic mange, and the other one is demodex . These can be differentiated by skin scraping a superficial layer of the skin and looking for the mites under a microscope
Flea allergies: If hair loss is noted especially around the tail and hindlimbs in young dogs be sure to look for fleas to rule them out as a problem.
Common causes of hair loss in older dogs
Hypothyroidism should be considered in older dogs with hair loss and has other signs such as weight gain, or lethargy.
Cushing’s disease or overactive adrenal gland should be considered in dogs that have hair loss with a pot-bellied appearance.
Is Your Dog Itchy Or Not?
Hair loss conditions that tend to have an itch
Allergy Dermatitis is the most common cause for itching in dogs.
Flea allergies are also a common reason that dogs may itch.
Mange either demodex or scabies tend to cause dogs to be very itchy especially in severe infections.
Hair loss without itching
Ringworm: This is a fungal infection that affects the hair follicles and causes hairloss but rarely causes dogs to itch.
Hormonal diseases such as hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease rarely have itching as well.
Even though these are common presentations for the medical conditions mentioned, they don’t always follow a consistent pattern. Also, dogs can have a combination of these medical conditions concurrently that can cause hairloss as well. But considering these presentations can help find the quickest diagnosis and therefore treatment for your dog with hairloss