Could It Be Dog Alopecia? Dog Hair Loss and What to Do
Dealing with pet hair is just part of owning a dog, right? When you start to see bald spots, though, it has gone beyond normal shedding.
Normal Hair Shedding
Shedding is a normal part of hair growth for most dogs and cats. Long or short hair, pets lose hair all the time.
Hair grows in a cycle that includes four stages. These are:
- Anagen (new hair growing actively)
- Catagen (when a new hair reaches its maximum length)
- Telogen (hair at rest not actively growing)
- Exogen (hair sheds at the end of its lifecycle)
A new hair will then begin to grow from that follicle, and the cycle continues.
Often a pet’s coat contains hairs in all four stages, but there are times where many of the hairs are in exogen phase, which results in a shed. We typically see this in double-coated dogs at the change of the seasons, although pets who are mostly indoors tend to have less shedding in spurts and more consistently throughout the seasons.
Dog Hair Loss
Sometimes, though, dog hair loss is not normal. In particular, if you are noticing itching or areas of baldness, something is likely not right.
We can see excessive loss of hair due to problems such as:
- Poor nutrition—If an animal is not receiving the appropriate nutrients, the haircoat can suffer. A quality commercial diet balanced by a veterinary nutritionist is not likely to cause nutritional imbalances, but pets who are on homemade diets are at high risk.
- Genetic conditions—There are some animals that may have genetic problems that affect their hair growth. Dog alopecia, for instance, sometimes occurs in Dachshunds.
- Infectious causes—Parasites such as fleas, skin mites, or lice can lead to hair loss. Fungal and bacterial infection of the skin can also impact the hair growth cycle.
- Endocrine or metabolic issues—Hormones can have an impact on the hair coat as well. Things like thyroid problems, Cushing’s Syndrome, pregnancy, and stress can all lead to hair loss.
- Neoplasia—Some cancers can affect the growth of hair and lead to hair loss.
- Allergic disease—Environmental allergens, contact sensitivities, atopic dermatitis, and food allergies can lead to hair loss and abnormal hair growth. While not exactly allergic, autoimmune conditions can also affect the skin and coat.
While some shedding is normal, if you feel that the dog hair loss you are dealing with is excessive or concerning, please contact us. It is never wrong to have our expert staff take a look to be sure that nothing is wrong.
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