While it's normal for dogs to go through periods of shedding, something is usually wrong when your dog loses enough hair to cause bald spots. When that happens, your dog usually has other symptoms too, such as frequent scratching, red skin, or body odor. It's important for a veterinarian to pinpoint the cause of the hair loss so your dog can be treated. Here are four common causes of hair loss in dogs.
1. Allergies That Cause Skin Irritation
Just like humans have allergies, dogs can have them too. Allergies are a common cause of hair loss in dogs, and often it's because of frequent scratching. However, the allergic reaction itself can affect your dog's skin and cause redness and irritation that leads to hair loss. A common dog allergy is to fleas, and it only takes a single flea bite to set off a bad allergic reaction.
Your dog could be allergic to other things too, such as food, pollen, mold, or dust mites. Your dog's vet can provide skin medications to soothe allergies and flea treatments to keep fleas at bay, but it may be necessary to figure out the exact allergen responsible for your dog's distress so you can eliminate it from your dog's environment.
2. Parasites That Infest Your Dog's Fur And Skin
If your dog seems to be itchy all over and is constantly scratching and grooming, the cause could be an infestation of mites that cause the hair to fall out. Mites can cause hair to fall out in patches all over your dog's body and make the hair look dry and unhealthy. Your vet can provide treatment for mites that eliminates them so your dog's hair grows back in.
Mites can make your dog miserable, so quick treatment is needed. Other parasites besides mites can cause hair loss too, so consider hair loss a sign your dog has a condition that needs attention from your veterinarian.
3. Skin Infections From Bacteria And Fungus
Your dog can get a bacterial or fungal infection on the skin that causes localized or widespread hair loss. This could be accompanied by redness, itching, and scaling. Your dog's skin might even have a foul odor. Your vet can treat a variety of skin infections with medications, but it may be necessary to take skin swabs to identify the type of infection your dog has.
4. Medical Conditions That Affect The Whole Body
Sometimes hair loss is a symptom of a medical condition such as hypothyroidism, hormone disorders, or Cushing's disease. The veterinarian may suspect a medical condition based on the condition of your dog's hair and other signs during an examination. Blood testing or other exams may be needed to make a final diagnosis so your dog can begin treatment.
Look for a veterinarian in a clinic like South Seattle Veterinary Hospital for more information.