Some dogs will shed more at certain times of the year, and this is totally normal. However, if your dog is experiencing hair loss beyond shedding, they should be seen by a vet, as this is often a sign of an underlying health problem. Hair loss often has a pattern to it, and this pattern, along with any other symptoms your dog is displaying, such as crusting of the skin or localised redness, will give your vet a good idea of what's causing your dog's hair loss. They'll also analyse a skin cell sample to check for the presence of bacteria and mites, and blood tests can be useful if your vet suspects a hormonal problem or an infection. Read on to learn about a few common causes of hair loss.
Ringworm causes the skin on bald patches to appear red and crusts usually form around the edges of the patches. This is a highly contagious fungal infection that can be diagnosed with skin cell analysis. If your dog has ringworm, your vet will prescribe an antifungal ointment to clear the fungus and medicated shampoo to soothe their skin. Your dog may need to wear a surgical collar to prevent them from licking the treatment off their skin and should be kept away from other pets.
Dogs with mange have patchy hair loss that can appear on any part of their body. They will also tend to have itchy skin and may claw at or bite areas that have missing hair. Mange is caused by demodex mites, and these mites can easily infect dogs that come into contact with an already infected dog. So, if your dog has mange, they will need to be kept away from your other pets. A skin cell analysis will confirm whether your dog has demodex mites, and your vet will prescribe antiparasitic drugs to eradicate these mites.
Dogs can experience hair loss if their oestrogen levels are too high or their testosterone levels are too low. Hair loss associated with hormone imbalance tends to develop in a symmetrical pattern, and a blood test can confirm hormone imbalance. To treat this type of hair loss, your dog will be prescribed synthetic hormones to balance their hormone levels, and blood tests may need to be repeated at regular intervals to ensure your dog is receiving the optimal dosage of their medication.
If you notice any patches of thinning hair on your dog, have them checked over by your vet as soon as possible. Reach out to a veterinary service near you to learn more.