Dog hair loss – what are the causes?

Articledog health and wellbeingThursday 10 November 2011

Excessive dog hair loss can be a disturbing and worrying symptom for pet owners. However, there are a variety of skin conditions in dogs that can lead to hair loss, from common moulting through to more serious conditions such as alopecia. Hair loss can also be a symptom of a more serious underlying problem that may require the attention of a vet to cure. So what are the primary reasons for dog hair loss and what can you do to help your pet?


The possible causes


Dog hair loss can be the result of a number of different causes ranging from allergies, disease and infection through to psychological disorders such as anxiety or stress. Some breeds are genetically prone to hair loss and excessive dog moulting, particularly long hair breeds. But some of the more common causes are skin conditions in dogs such as dermatitis, particularly allergic or contact dermatitis. Contact with various products can produce a reaction, and the first step is to try and identify the irritant that is causing the problem. Some dogs have an allergic reaction to certain types of flea powders, for example, while others may react badly to chemicals found in household cleaners, plastics or even some forms of food additives. If you can identify and eliminate the cause of the reaction, the hair loss should eventually stop.


However, some psychological problems can also cause dog hair loss. Anxiety, boredom or stress can manifest in a dog compulsively licking an area, which can lead to hair loss. This is known as acral lick dermatitis, and once the cause has been identified the behaviour can usually be corrected relatively easily to prevent the problem from continuing.


Mange and dandruff in cats and dogs is a common complaint and is often caused by parasites such as fleas. Typical symptoms of mange include redness, blisters, ulcers and itching. This problem can be compounded if the dog has an allergy to fleas and if that is the case, a visit to the vet for further treatment may be required.


One of the more unpleasant skin conditions in dogs is Ringworm, a fungal skin infection that can be passed on to humans, so it is important to ensure that cases of Ringworm are treated as quickly as possible to prevent cross-infection. The symptoms of Ringworm are similar to manage so it is important to get any skin conditions in dogs checked out by a vet and treated appropriately as quickly as possible. The sooner they are treated, the easier it is to prevent your pet becoming distressed and uncomfortable and return them back to full dog health.



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