Regular hair shedding is a perfectly natural occurrence in dogs. However when shedding is excessive and is accompanied by an obvious loss of the hair coat and bald spots can be seen, this condition is known as alopecia. Just as humans do, dogs too can have this problem! Particularly when shedding occurs to the point of baldness, dog hair loss can be a sign of deeper issues.
According to the Merck Manual of Pet Health, there are several different reasons a dog may have excessive hair loss. Some animals are born with the condition, where others acquire it for different reasons.
Certain inflammatory diseases or conditions can cause alopecia in dogs. Bacterial or parasitic infections are one possible cause. Skin trauma such as burns, as well as mercury poisoning are another possibility. Protein deficiencies and hormonal imbalances can also cause alopecia. Temporary hair loss may also occur during pregnancy or lactation, as well as several weeks after a serious illness or fever. Cushing’s disease also causes hair loss in dogs.
According to WebMD, allergies are a common cause of excessive hair loss in dogs. Common allergic triggers include food, pollen, fleas and mites. They say that flea bites are the culprit of most hair loss conditions triggered by allergies. Itching and redness around the area are common.
Some dogs experience hair loss simply because they are genetically prone to it. For example, Chihuahuas, dachshunds and greyhounds may develop bald spots on the outer ear, chest, back, thighs or lower neck.
As you can see, there are many factors that can cause hair loss in dogs. This is why it is best to have your dog examined by a veterinarian, particularly if the hair loss is accompanied by itching, a bad odor, infection or irritation or behavioral changes.
Medical treatments for canine alopecia are dependent on knowing its cause. For example, if the hair loss is caused by fleas and ticks, flea and tick control will be the focus of the medication. If the alopecia is caused by allergies, treatment may include a change in diet, antihistamines, topical ointments and antibiotics. If your dog’s hormones are the cause, treatments may include hormone therapy, supplements and certain medications.
Home Remedies for Dog Hair Loss
If your dog’s hair loss is minimal, or if you are not ready to take them to a vet about it just yet, there are several natural home remedies you can try out that may help.
Applying olive oil to a dog’s coat and skin may be particularly helpful. It will boost moisture levels of the skin, as well as soothing any pain your dog may be experiencing from severe itching. Another benefit of using olive oil is that it will choke out mites, which are one of the possible causes of hair loss. As a side note, olive oil will make your dog’s coat soft and brilliantly shiny.
There are natural antibacterial properties present in lemon juice, which may help a dog’s hair loss problem. You can use lemon juice as a spot treatment, or dilute it and apply it throughout the dog’s coat.
You may have heard about how apple cider vinegar can help humans, but it can also help dogs with hair loss. Start by mixing equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water. Take a cotton ball and dip it into the mixture. Apply it directly to the affected area. Apple cider vinegar is a great boost for your dog’s immune system as well. Place a few drops on your dog’s food to allow them to benefit from its antibacterial properties.
To help support healthy hair growth, it is important to start with a healthy diet. If you suspect your dog could be allergic to his food, try this. Replace it with cooked rice, cooked vegetables and boiled chicken breasts. Known as a “bland diet”, feed this to your dog for 3 days. If symptoms do not improve, follow up with a veterinarian.