Causes and Treatment of a Dog Losing Hair

"There are multiple causes for a dog losing hair. Veterinarians will first determine if the hair loss was caused by scratching or itching, or if was due to some other reason.  Some are specific to a certain breed and others can become a problem for any breed. Common causes of dog hair loss include bacterial infection, fungal infection, thyroid related disease or parasites (mange, fleas). More complex reasons include those that are hormonal such as hyperthyroidism. Not all hair loss can be explained. Like humans, a dog can even suffer from baldness. Itching and scratching are related to skin problems such as allergy or parasites. Patchy or asymmetrical hair loss indicates problems such as a bacterial skin infection, mites or fungal skin infection. Symmetrical alopecia or hair loss indicates problems such as Hyperadrenocorticism and hypothyroidism.If you cannot find the cause consider a change in diet and possibly supplementation with melatonin, herbal remedies for omega-3 fatty acids."

Dog hair loss has multiple reasons. Many can be explained by medication reasons, some due to poor diet, bathing and nutrition and others have no explanation.

Watch this video featuring Dr. Patrick McHale reviewing the most common causes of a dog losing hair on behalf of the Dog Health Guide:

Medical Causes of Dog Hair Loss

There are many medical and unknown reasons for a dog losing hair condition. Reasons include:

Causes Of Dog Hair Loss

Disease or Dog Hair Problem

Dog Hair Related and other Symptoms Treatment


Hyperadrenocorticism (excessive production of glucocorticoids)

Dull hair coat, slow hair growth, coat color change, partial-to-complete symmetric hair loss (alpaca) of the rump glucocorticoids, adrenalectomy (surgical removal of the adrenal glands which are two glands located above the kidneys)

Dogs with condition can live 3 years with some over 10


Dull brittle coat, lethargy, obesity, depression Hormone replacement therapy with levothyroxine

Lifelong medications, should have no effect on life span

Follicular dysplyasia Non inflammatory dog losing hair (alopecia), except on the head and limbs Retinoids (vitamin A derivative), melatonin (stimulates hormone production) Excellent, hair will regrow
Cyclic follicular dysplasia Hair loss on the trunk of your dog, hair regrows after 3 to 4 months. Possible changes in skin color Melatonin (stimulates hormone production) Excellent with treatment, could be induced by poor care or too much sun
Pattern baldness (often seen in Dachshunds and Greyhounds) Hair loss (Alopecia) on the ears, behind the ears , lower part of the neck , thighs, tail Proper nutrition and care Excellent
Color dilution alopecia Lighter hair, clusters of hair color change, damaged hair shaft Retinoids, fatty acid supplements Good for general health. Hair may not regrow
Dermatosis - which is a general name for any skin disease where their is inflammation Puppy-like hair coat, coat color changes, less than normal amount of hair on the head or body (hypotrichosis) and hair loss (alopecia) pubic area hair loss, flank, trunk, neck Moisturizers, antimicrobial treatment, neutering, testosterone in castrated males, estrogen in spayed females, growth hormone Good, temporary remission
Sertoli's cell tumor (dog testicle tumor) Hair loss at parts of the body where there the hair comes in contact with other objects such as where your dog wears a collar (called symmetric alopecia). Other areas of hair loss include the behind, the place where your cat defecates and the breast area. Castration is the most common treatment option Excellent if the cancer hasn't spread
Anagen defluxion (means hair loss the second a hair starts to grow) Sudden hair loss Eliminating the cause Excellent if underlying factor is identified
Sudden hair loss due to stress (Focal Alopecia) Hair loss triggered by an event Removal of cause of point of stress Excellent
Lack of hair growth after the hair is clipped (happens in some aortic breeds or breeds with a plush coat) No hair regrowth in areas that have been clipped or cut Hair usually will regrow by itself in 6 to 24 months. The cause of the condition is unknown. Excellent
Demodectic Mange Loss of hair around eyelids, lips, mouth, legs and body. Patches of hair loss. Some skin problems. Treat with a lime sulfur dip type product such as Naturasil for Pet Mange. Excellent
Pressure Sore (callus) Hair loss on elbows or wrinkled skin. This is caused by lying on harder surfaces. Remove Cause Excellent

Hyperestrogenism (dog ovarian tumor)

Hair loss where the feces exits the body and the area between the hip and the last rib on each side Surgical removal of the ovaries


Causes of Dog Hair Loss by Breed Related Health Conditions

There are several breed specific conditions that can cause a dog losing hair condition.


Dog Losing Hair - Problem


Acanthosis nigrans - hair loss in arm pit.


Color mutant alopecia - hair loss in different locations on the body

Collie Nasal Solar Dermatitis - Ulcers may form. Thought to be a problem with the immune system (autoimmune disease)

Rottweilers, Belgian Tervuiren

Vitiligo: which is a loss of color and possibly hair loss.

Poodles Sebaceous Adenitis -
Loss of hair in same locations on both sides (symmetrical) of face, head, neck and back. May look like dandruff on skin.

Dog Hair Thinning and Nutrition

Nutrition can contribute to hair loss. If your dog's coat is dull or lifeless then you might want to either consider a change in diet, herbal supplement such as Skin and Coat Tonic or a fish oil supplement.. Your dog's coat is a reflection of diet.

Your dog's hair is made up of protein (90%). If your dog is not getting protein or certain amino acids then the hair can be lost, grow slower, be dull or brittle. Up to 30% of the proteins your dog eats goes into the hair and skin.

References Dog Losing Hair:

The Dog with Alopecia (dog losing hair)
R.S. Mueller
Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, US

Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook
Eldredge, Debra; Carlson, Liisa; Carlson, Delbert; Giffin, James

Clinical approach of canine alopecia (dog losing hair)
PD Dr med vet Claude Favrot, MsSc, Dip ECVD
University of Zurich, Switzerland


Have a Question About a Dog Hair Problem or a Story that can help others?

Do you have a Dog Hair and Coat related Question for our Editors or a Helpful Story to Share? Please include information such as age, sex, breed, medical history, areas where your dog is experiencing hair loss, skin and other symptoms, medications your dog is taking, recent changes in behavior, etc. A picture of the condition would also be helpful.

We will do our best to get back to you quickly (depends on how many questions we receive each day). If you do require an immediate response we suggest using this online dog veterinary service that is available now.

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