Alopecia in Dogs
By Pierre Mouchette | Bits-n-Pieces
All dogs shed, so chances are you are used to vacuuming pet hair around your home. But if you notice your dog seems to be losing excessive amounts of hair, something else could be going on.
If your dog’s coat feels unusually thin in patches, or if you are noticing areas of hair loss and irritated skin, your dog might have alopecia. The symptoms of alopecia, the clinical term for hair loss, can range from mild to severe. So, if you suspect your dog has this condition, it is essential to call your vet.
Signs And Symptoms Of Alopecia In Dogs
Alopecia in dogs can be present as hair loss in patches or all over the body. Hair loss can occur with or without skin lesions (abnormally appearing skin). If skin lesions occur, they are more likely to be present on a dog’s face and front legs. They occur less commonly on the back legs, tail, and neck.
Dogs with alopecia will have hair loss or thinning along their sides and thighs. They might also be unusually itchy and may bite and scratch at the irritated areas. Dogs who are severely irritated by alopecia may scratch so much that they create wounds on their skin.
If your dog has alopecia, you might notice several changes in their skin. It might become abnormally dry, crusty, or flaky. Or there may be areas of skin that become red and inflamed, look thicker, or even bleed. Sometimes, a dog’s skin color may change and become darker. And some dogs will develop red spots on their skin. They can also develop hives or pimples along with red spots.
Note: Hair loss is usually progressive, and most dogs have itching symptoms and scabs on their hairless areas.
What causes alopecia in dogs?
Poor nutrition often causes alopecia in dogs. So, feeding your pet poor-quality food may lead to the development of this condition. But there are also other causes of alopecia. Some dogs can be born with alopecia, which may or may not be hereditary. In these occurrences, the abnormal coat pattern may be visible shortly after they are born. However, some dogs are born with a standard coat and then experience hair loss as young adults. It is also possible for diseases and particular injuries that affect hair follicles to cause alopecia. These include:
What should you do if you notice signs of alopecia in your dog?
If you notice that your dog has symptoms of alopecia, schedule a visit with your veterinarian. Your vet will do a complete physical examination to determine the cause of the hair loss. They may also order lab tests, such as:
How is alopecia in dogs treated?
The treatment for your dog’s alopecia will depend on what’s causing it. Successful therapies address the root cause of the condition. For example, if a flea infestation has caused alopecia, it is essential to treat the fleas to treat the alopecia.
As a result, your vet might recommend one of many potential treatments for alopecia, like:
Can you treat alopecia in dogs naturally?
As mentioned, how you treat your dog’s alopecia will depend on its root cause. If your dog’s alopecia is caused by poor nutrition, they may not need medication or topical treatments. You can treat it by improving your dog’s food quality.
For other causes of alopecia, omega-3 fatty acids, which support skin health, and melatonin are two possible natural treatment options. And there are natural flea treatments for alopecia caused by fleas specifically.
While you may want to treat your dog’s alopecia with natural remedies, it is still necessary to determine what is causing the issue. Start with a trip to your vet for a full workup and diagnosis. Then, your vet can help you identify the most appropriate treatment for your dog, whether a natural remedy or a medication.
Can a dog recover from alopecia?
Dogs can recover from alopecia, but whether your dog makes a full recovery depends on what is the cause in their case. Alopecia caused by hypothyroidism carries a good prognosis for recovery, though some dogs may experience periodic flare-ups. And alopecia caused by stress or shock also has an excellent prognosis for recovery.
In some cases, dogs may recover when their skin is no longer irritated and itchy, but they do not experience complete coat regrowth.
Your vet can provide the most accurate prognosis for your dog based on their diagnosis.
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