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Summary: In this blog, we learn what causes hair loss in dogs, including older dogs. We’ll explore potential dog hair loss home remedies, how to treat hair loss in dogs and what other symptoms can accompany hair loss in dogs…
Hair loss in dogs (also known as alopecia), isn’t uncommon but can be noticeable, unsightly and cause pet parents alarm! Hair loss may appear in one single place, or it may appear in patches all over the body. There could be many reasons causing your dog’s hair loss…
Your dog may be allergic to flea saliva, other parasites, food or even pollen. If the reaction is sustained and includes itching, scratching or red and inflamed skin, it may well be an allergic reaction. Check in with your vet.
Ringworm, yeast infections, atopic dermatitis or folliculitis can all result in hair loss as a symptom. Read up on Doggy Yeast Infections here, Atopic Dermatitis here and Folliculitis here and if your dog seems to be presenting any of the accompanying symptoms, as well as their hair loss, it’s time to consult with their vet.
Both hyperthyroidism and Cushing’s disease can induce hair loss in dogs. Hyperthyroidism is when thy thyroid becomes overactive and causes an increase in metabolism so hair loss can often accompany unexplained weight loss. Cushing’s disease means a dog (usually over the age of 6) is producing too much of the hormone cortisol (commonly known as the stress hormone). However, Cushing’s disease is usually accompanied by excessive urination, thirst and a potbelly.
If you suspect either of these two conditions, make sure you check in with their vet for a proper diagnosis, treatment and support.
Did you know that some dogs are actually classed as “hairless”? These breeds include the Chinese Crested and the Mexican Hairless, but breeds we’re more familiar with can experience hair loss more commonly than others. Chihuahuas, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Dachshunds, Greyhounds, Doberman Pinschers, Italian Greyhounds and Whippets are more prone to hair loss on their outer ears, chest, back, thighs and lower neck than other breeds but this usually occurs (if at all) after they turn 1 year of age.
Dogs can shed their hair when the strands become old, damaged or simply because the weather is warmer. This is less common if you live in a moderate climate all year round, but certainly more common if you experience hot summers. Breeds more prone to seasonal shedding/alopecia include the Boxer, Husky, Labrador, Doberman Pinscher, Bulldog and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
If the shedding is quite extensive, help your dog out by brushing them through a few times a week.
Other causes of hair loss in dogs can include:
As well as all the other potential reasons above that apply to senior dogs too, hair loss could also be a part of their ageing process. Their body may be shifting its priorities and sending nutrients to other areas instead of their hair follicles.
Cushing’s disease and pressure sores are also more common in senior dogs (over the age of 6/7 years). As with all pet health concerns, only a vet can give you a conclusive reason for what’s causing the hair loss in your older dog.
If your dog has hair loss under their collar, this is most likely because the collar is too tight, ill-fitting and rubbing against the skin. If it’s been that way for a while, the skin may be quite hard under there or even damaged too.
You should be able to fit two fingers underneath your dog’s collar. If you can’t, then the collar is too tight and if it’s too easy or you can fit more, then it’s too loose.
Ticks don’t cause hair loss, but can cause other conditions. Read our blog on all things ticks and dogs here.
If you spot any hair loss on your dog, you should always take them for an examination at the vet. Hair loss in dogs can be very uncomfortable and painful, and because dogs are so good at masking their pain, any discomfort may not be immediately obvious to their pet parent.
You should attend the vet with urgency if you’ve also noticed a change in their appetite, unexplained weight loss/gain, an increase in thirst, over-grooming, itching, bad odour, lethargy/low mood, behavioural changes, patches of dark skin, bumps, scabs and/or dandruff.
Once you’ve obtained a diagnosis from your vet, you may be advised on some things you can do at home which may include more regular grooming and/or shampooing with a medicated shampoo.
Other touted home remedies that other dog owners have claimed to help with hair loss and are also thought to help a dog’s skin and coat condition include:
Topically applying 100% virgin coconut oil – Simply rub a very small amount into your hands and then massage it into the problem area of your dog’s skin. Try to leave it on but if they’re looking a little greasy rather than sleek and shiny, rinse it out after 5-10 minutes. Some dogs love the taste of coconut oil and may try and lick it off though! Read our blog on The Benefits Of Coconut Oil for Dogs here.
Topically applying watered-down Apple Cider Vinegar – Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is touted for its anti-fungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. You can get a clean, empty spray bottle and mix 50% water and 50% Apple Cider Vinegar (always water the ACV down as, when pure, it’s too acidic for your dog’s skin) and gently spray the affected area with a couple of squirts once or twice a day to help restore it. Do not do so if there is an open wound or the skin is inflamed/sore.