How to treat hair loss in a dog
Dog hair loss is a widespread problem encountered by dog owners and veterinarians. Hair loss is observed with the thinning of hair or with the presence of bald patches known as alopecia.
Causes of Hair Loss in Dog
Several causes of hair loss in a dog have been cited. The first is the natural cycle where hair growth passes through 3 phases:
- Anagen is the phase when the hair actively grows
- Catagen signals the end of anagen and starts the telogen phase.
- Telogen is also known as the resting phase. When hair enters another anagen phase, the hair that is in telogen phase is shed off.
Dog hair loss can also be attributed to hormonal diseases such as:
- Hyperadrenocortism (HAC or Cushing's disease)
- Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison's disease)
- Hypothyroidism - causes hair loss at the neck beneath the chin to the brisket, sides of body, backs of thighs and top of tail
- Cortisone excess – causes hair loss over trunk and body of the dog
- Hyperestrogenism – occurs when there is an excessive supply of estrogen that causes hair loss around the genitals and perineum
- Hypoestrogenism – occurs when supply of estrogen is lacking. Thinning hair around the vulva and then the whole body is a manifestation of hypoestrogenism.
Other diseases that may cause hair loss are:
Acanthosis nigrans (Dachshunds)
Color mutant alopecia (Blue Doberman syndrome)
Nasal solar dermatitis (Collie nose)
Pressure sores (Calluses)
Ringworm ( fungal infection)
Dog hair loss can also be caused by hypersensitivity to flea or mosquito bites, anal sac secretions and food allergy. Imidocloprid is recommended for flea bites while a cortizone shot is found to be effective for almost any type of allergy except in cases when hair loss is caused by another type of infection.
Dog Hair Loss Treatment
For hormonal diseases, the use of growth hormone such as melatonin is recommended. Although safe to use, a veterinarian's advice is still needed to eliminate the possibilities that the dog is infected with a different disease.
Hyperthyroidism can be cured with the administration of methimazole while a dog suffering from hypothyroidism can be given thyroxin. Recommended treatments for hypoadrenocorticism are dexamethasone sodium phosphate and prednisolone sodium succinate. Mitotane and deprenyl are best for dogs infected with hyperadrenocorticism. All of these medicines need the prescription of a veterinarian.
For other causes of hair loss such as fleas, mites, ringworm and other fungal infections, dog hair shampoo such as OxyDex, Ectokyl and Malaseb shampoo are best.
The treatment of hair loss in dogs depends on what type of disease or infection is found after the dog is subjected to several tests. The dog might be undergoing only cyclic hair growth and does not need any treatment at all except allowing enough time for the hair to grow and giving the necessary vitamins and nutrients. Before treating the dog, consult a veterinarian and have the dog undergo laboratory testing. The tests would isolate the real cause of the hair loss. The veterinarian then can give better recommendation on what type of medication is needed by the dog. It is also important to know how the medication should be administered as some medicines can be given orally or topically.