Why is my dog losing hair? Get insights on the causes of dog hair loss, itching, patches and scabs on skin, tail belly, how to treat and the best home remedies.

There are many diseases and conditions which can cause a dog to lose hair. Some of these may be considered normal; others can indicate presence of a serious condition. Most of the conditions which result in hair loss are discussed in this article below, though some of them may be rare. This extensive list helps you understand why a quick diagnosis may be difficult to make, and various diagnostic tests may need to be performed.

Symptoms Related to Dog Skin Disorders

Dog losing hair causes

Dog skin disorder symptoms

Dog losing hair condition tend to vary based on shape, of any lesions, condition of the skin such as crusts, scars, ulcers or scales and the dogs behavior such as itching.  Specifically:

  • Scratching, licking the skin and Dog Skin itch:Dogs that scratch the face, feet, ears and arm pits usually have some form of inhalant allergy. Dog flea allergy causes dogs to scratch or lick the tail, back, groin and thigh.
  • Canine Skin Rash or red patches on skin:Red, irritated looking skin is a non-specific symptom and can be associated with any number of disorders such as mange, immune-mediated disorders.
  • Black Crusty Skin: also known as alopecia X or Cushing’s Disease
  • Hot spots: (acute moist dermatitis) is caused by the removal of a superficial layer of skin due to scratching or biting.
  • Dry, oily or flaky skin due to canine Dandruff or Seborrhea: refers to scaling skin or which occurs when skin particles accumulate on the outer layer of the skin.  Dog seborrhea sicca refers to dog dandruff, while greasy or oily skin is referred to as seborrhea oleosa.  Canine seborrhea is caused by allergy, hormonal problems, bacterial infections, fungus, and tumors.
  • Lumps under dog’s skin
  • Pemphigus– This is an immune system disorder where the dog’s body attacks the substance that holds skin cells together. The result is the skin literally coming apart, resulting in skin pustules and crusts, particularly around the bridge of the nose and feet with dog hair loss.  Symptoms include painful skin that is very red and crusty in appearance.  Commonly effected areas of immune mediated dog skin diseases are at the ear margins, lips and nasal area.  Canine lupus is another immune system related disorder with similar symptoms.
  • Toenails breaking off: usually caused by fungus, bacteria or mites.
  • Dog Odor Skin and Bad Smell
  • Scratches rear end on bottom of rug: probably due to a full anal gland.
  • Foot Problems are often caused by some type of allergy such as a food allergy
  • Dog Skin Sores
  • Dog Hair Loss or shedding: Most conditions that involve canine hair loss are caused by a hormonal problem such as .  Other causes are folliculitis which is causes by inflammation of the hair follicle due to canine ringworm or a bacterial infection.  Often a cause cannot be found.
  • A dry, dull-looking coat along with severe hair loss, excessive panting, a distended abdomen, a reduction of muscle mass and thin/frail skin can indicate some type of underlying disease such as hyperadrenocorticism.  Be sure to mention changes in coat condition as this is an indicator of something going on in your dog’s body.  It can also be a sign of poor nutrition.
  • Patchy hair loss on the head and face is a symptom of mange. Patches of dog hair loss can also indicate ringworm or allergy.
  • Dog skin scabs or crusts: this is caused by the buildup of pus or skin scaling due to skin diseases such as (pus filled bumps).  Crusts on the ear margins can be caused by mange.

Dog losing Hair, on Tail, Belly

While any dog can have allergies, some are more prone to them than others. Treating your dog’s allergies may include topical or internal medication, immunotherapy, a change in diet, and avoiding the allergen.

Dog hair loss or alopecia

Hair loss is a common disorder in dogs which causes the animal to have partial or complete hair loss. It can affect a dog’s skin, its endocrine system, its lymphatic system, and its immune systems. Alopecia can affect dogs and cats of all ages, breed and gender, and are either gradual.

Symptoms and Types

Alopecia is extremely noticeable, and is characterized as a varied or a symmetrical hair loss. It may also be seen as bald circles, accompanied by crusting and inflammation around the area. Some dogs suffering from alopecia have scaling of the skin.

Causes of dog losing hair

One of the most common causes of alopecia is mange, which caused by the mite Demodex. Hair loss can also occur when there is a disruption in the growth of hair follicles, often from infection, trauma, an immune disease, or endocrine system abnormalities. If there are multiple missing patches of hair, it could be associated with an inflammation of the hair follicle. A more widespread area of hair loss, meanwhile, may indicate a more specific disease pattern.

Bald Spots in Dogs

There are lots of reasons dogs may lose hair, from infection to irritation caused by parasites. A few of the more common reasons include:

Allergies

These are a frequent trigger for hair loss in dogs. Like people, dogs can have an allergic reaction to foods, environmental triggers such as pollen, or to parasites like fleas or mites. Flea bites are behind most allergies in dogs, however. Along with hair loss from licking and biting the irritated areas, signs of flea allergies include itching and redness. For a particularly allergic dog, it may take as little as one flea bite to start allergic reactions that lingers for days.

Cushing’s disease

Hair loss in dogs may also be caused by hyperadrenocorticism, or Cushing’s disease, a condition caused by the overproduction of the hormone cortisol. Less commonly, it is due to a tumor on one of the adrenal glands. Medication is available to treat both forms of Cushing’s disease. However, while not commonly recommended, surgery can be done to remove the tumor associated with the adrenal form of Cushing’s disease.

This disease is more common in dogs 6 years or older. Other signs of Cushing’s disease include eating, drinking, and urinating more, as well as having a pot-bellied appearance. Take your dog to the vet if you notice any of these signs.

Genetics

Some dogs are more prone to baldness than others. Bald spots on the outer ear, chest, back, thighs, or lower neck may appear in greyhounds, whippets, Chihuahuas, dachshunds, and Italian greyhounds, usually after their first year. Most owners learn to live with this, as treatment options are limited. Always make sure your vet has ruled out other causes of hair loss such as infection before you turn a blind eye to this cosmetic problem.

Infection or Infestation

Ringworm fungus, pests like mange mites, and bacteria can all lead to infections that may ultimately cause bald spots on your dog. Along with hair loss around the eyes, mouth, and elsewhere, signs your dog may have mites include oily skin, thickened skin, itching, and inflammation. Symptoms of ringworm is contagious infection of haired skin and claws which includes circular or irregular hair loss, inflammation, and infected crusts.

Although small ringworm lesions may clear up spontaneously, a severe infection will need treatment with an antifungal shampoo or cream and/or antifungal drugs. Treating mites may require topical medications and antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections.

Dog Hair Loss and Itching

Dog hair loss causes

Dog hair loss and itching

Your dog is constantly scratching, and now his hair’s falling out. While only a veterinarian can make a definite diagnosis, he’s likely suffering from allergies or the dreaded canine mange. If it is mange, that does not mean you’re a bad dog parent. Mites happen.

Atopic Dermatitis

This condition really means your dog is reacting to an allergen. He scratches all the time. Depending on the type of allergy, he might lose hair or pull hair out while chewing at his itchy skin. Your vet conducts skin tests to determine exactly what is causing the symptoms. Sometimes that isn’t necessary; you don’t need a veterinary medication to realize as fleas may be the culprit if you see them on your dog. If the problem is seasonal, environmental allergens like mold or pollen may trigger symptoms. Your dog may also react to something in his food.

Allergy Treatment

Treatment will depend on what causes the allergic reaction. Fleas are relatively easy to find a good topical or oral anti-flea product and problem solved. For other allergens, your vet may prescribe antihistamines for itch relief. If those medications don’t help, your vet may give your dog corticosteroids, which stop the scratching but might have long-term health consequences. If it’s a food allergy, your vet can advise you of dietary changes or supplementation that may stop the itch.

Mange

Sarcoptic mange, also known as scabies, is caused by mites and drives your dog crazy with itching. Besides hair loss, your dog’s skin is inflamed and sores appear. Be careful since this type of mange can affect humans. Demodetic mange is less of a problem, but appears to be hereditary in certain breeds. It is also more often affects dogs with compromised immune systems. While the symptoms are similar to the sarcoptic variety, secondary infections often accompany demodetic mange.

Mange Treatment

If the diagnosis is sarcoptic mange, you must not only treat your dog but all the animals in your household, as the disease is very contagious. Your vet will take skin scrapings to make a diagnosis. She will prescribe topical and oral medications to kill the mites and relieve the itching, as well as medicated shampoos to help heal the skin.

It may take a month or more of treatment to cure the dog cannot be considered out of the woods until he receives negative skin scrapings done over a 30-day period. Demodetic mange treatments include medication to kill mites, along with antibiotics for any skin infections and medicated dips.

Dog losing Hair in Patches and Scabs

Identifying diseases and conditions canine skin can be difficult to diagnose since there are many causes. The key to understanding which condition your dog is suffering from is to do your best to match the characteristics of each cause with the symptoms exhibited by your dog.  Dog skin disorders are difficult to diagnose requiring diagnosis of any underlying cause in order to cure any visible clinical symptoms.

Dog Skin Cancer, Bumps and Tags

If you see a dog losing hair in patches and scabs do not automatically assume that is skin cancer. There are many “benign” causes of lumps or bumps such as an insect bite, an abscess or a benign lipoma. Dog skin tags can look like a tumor, but usually are benign will not cause any harm. The tag itself differs from a wart is that they are connected to the skin with a thin base.

They are often similar in color to the skin and can sometimes be moved a bit with the fingers. In most cases dog skin tags can be left alone unless there is a cosmetic reason to remove the tag. Another reason for removal is when you have a dog that licks or scratches the area, allowing irritation and infection to take hold.

Considerations when Diagnosing Dog Skin Diseases

Dog hair loss due to skin disease

Dog skin disease

In general, if your dog is suffering from skin itch, and if skin lesions are red in color and oozing pus, and is accompanied by hair loss, a trip to the veterinarian is needed as the condition is probably beyond your ability to control the problem with over the counter medications. In this case a dog skin infection has probably taken hold, requiring antibiotics and possibly short term steroid use for inflammation.

If the skin condition is limited to dog skin itch and scratching, then the first step is to suspect the beginning of a flea infestation.  It’s easy to miss fleas when inspecting your dog’s hair, so don’t be surprised if this is the cause.

If fleas are not found after combing your dog with a flea comb, consider allergy as a possible cause. For mild conditions, ask your vet about using an antihistamine. Avoid any product that is medicated at first, since these may cause additional irritation.

Other possible causes of diseases and conditions canine skin problems after fleas’ allergy are environmental allergies.   Mange is caused by mites and is usually seen in young puppies with symptoms such as bald patches and secondary illnesses that are the result of the condition.  To diagnose mange, your vet will need to test a skin scraping. For advice specific to a wide range of canine skin conditions, review the symptoms, pictures and other information below.

Dog Hair Loss Home Remedies

When you want to handle the condition of dog hair loss at home, you may carry out the following at home treatments:

Homemade food substitutes
Hair loss dogs can be caused by allergies hair loss dogs. Whether the dog food, shampoo, fleas or mites. So if you think your food allergy, make sure that the dry dog Atwood is out of sight. Replace with home cooked rice, vegetables and some boiled chicken breast. This is known as a flexible system and can even be pureed for a finer texture. Feed this to your dog for a couple of days. If symptoms persist, consult your veterinarian hair loss dogs.

Benadryl
Toolbar is a common antihistamine that can be given to dogs who suffer from allergic reactions.

Apple cider vinegar
it has antibacterial and antifungal properties and also stimulates the immune system. This makes cider vinegar is one of the effective homes for hair loss dog’s remedies. Even be applied directly to the affected area hair loss dogs. Dip a cotton ball in diluted shares apple cider and water. Gently pat the area and let dry. For an antifungal bath, apply undiluted apple cider vinegar, but rinse well after. Make sure not to get in front of their dogs as they can sting a lot hair loss dogs.

Golden seal
this is an essential oil is an effective home remedy for dogs’ hair loss. Remember though that this is a powerful herb to not abuse it. It is also best to consult your veterinarian before applying hair loss dogs.

Flaxseed oil
it is another home remedy for hair loss dogs. Put a small amount of food for your dog and in a few weeks you will notice the positive change that makes.

Olive oil
olive oil benefits not only humans, but also is one of the great home remedies for hair loss dogs. It also relieves very itchy. Simply rub a small amount in the palm of your hand and give your dog a gentle massage. It will also give your dog’s coat shine enormous.

Melatonin therapy
it is a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland and is also used in veterinary medicine as a natural treatment for hair loss dogs. Response time to treatment is usually six weeks to four months to a significant improvement in Dogs layer. “Consult your doctor for the exact dosage given.

Aloe Vera
This is another one of the great remedy to soothe the skin and prevent hair loss due to itching.

Supplements
Omega 3 fatty acids can be very beneficial to cover the hair and skin. This will help your dog avoid skin problems that can cause hair loss.

Dog Hair Loss Treatment

Specific treatments for hair loss in pets will depend on the underlying cause. When encountering a patient with hair loss, veterinarians will take careful notes of the breed and age of the pet, as well as ask historical information from the pet owner.

For pets less than one year old, or pets that have been adopted from a shelter, veterinarians will often perform a skin scrape to evaluate for skin mites such as demodex or scabies. Your veterinarian may also shine a special lamp known as a Wood’s Lamp over your pet’s affected area to see if it fluoresces, which could indicate ringworm. Further, a fungal culture may also be performed.

Adult pets that are itching or pulling their fur out causing the hair loss, veterinarians will often use a flea comb on the pet to see if flea bite allergies may be causing the hair loss. Dietary history as well as seasonal variations in hair loss may indicate atopic or possible food allergies.

Depending on the dermatologic workup done on a particular pet, treatments will vary but may include incorporating prescription products such as topical revolution or other products.

If an allergic skin disease is diagnosed as the cause of hair loss, novel or hydrolyzed protein diets may be suggested for a few months to see if food allergies are involved, as well as medications such as prescription antihistamines, or allergy medications. With allergic causes of hair loss, pets may often have secondary bacterial and/or yeast infections from their itching, and in those cases special shampoos may be used, as well as prescription antibiotics or antifungal agents.

Alopecia is commonly treated with topical shampoos and antibiotic therapy. If other issues are discovered to be the underlying cause, treatment to address the hormone levels may be prescribed. Meanwhile, if there is a skin growth or , it will be surgically removed.

Living and Management

Once the treatment has been prescribed, it is essential the topical shampoos, ointments and antibiotics are administered as prescribed. In addition, monitor the dog’s skin to ensure it does not become infected.

Prevention

Treatment and prevention of dog hair loss

Dog hair loss prevention

There is little that can be done to prevent alopecia, but it is important to monitor your pet for any skin issues that may cause hair loss.

It’s normal for your canine companion to shed hair – sometimes lots of it. What isn’t routine is for that shedding to result in noticeable bald spots on your dog. Find out what causes bald spots in dogs and what you can do to keep your pet’s coat in top form.

More references

  1. Hair loss in dogs:
  2. Causes of hair loss in dogs:
  3. Bald spots in dogs:
  4. Severe itching and hair loss in dogs:
  5. Canine skin diseases and conditions:
  6. Home remedies for dog hair loss:
  7. Hair loss treatment for dogs and cats:
  8. Hair loss problem in dogs: