Help! My dog is going bald!
Dogs losing hair is normal. Shedding is common for most dogs. Some dogs will even go through intense shedding periods where they are losing clumps of hair. But there is a difference between shedding and balding. There are lot of reasons why your dog may have alopecia (hair loss):
What do you call it when your dog won’t stop licking a spot? It is called worrying the spot. It is called this because it is often a sign of anxiety or has become a habit. However, worrying can also be a symptom of an underlying problem. The biggest problem with worrying is that it leads to bald spots and the creation of sores. Your dog will lick and nibble a spot so much that they create a sore. Since it is in their nature to want to clean and sooth the sore by licking it, they continue to worry the area which gives it no ability to heal.
Reasons for Hair Loss in Dogs
Allergies- Having an allergic reaction to food or the environment can trigger hair loss, or can cause itching that leads to your dog worrying the area.
Fleas- Fleas are the primary cause of hair loss in dogs. If your dog has a flea infestation this not only itches but because of the scratching can create sores. Your dog can literally scratch their hair off or worry it off through licking and nibbling on itchy areas. If your dog is allergic to fleas their reaction to a bite might be stronger and sometimes it only takes one bite to trigger an allergic reaction that can lead to a bald spot. The best way to treat fleas is to use Frontline Flea and Tick treatment. This is also the best way to prevent fleas.
Cushings Disease- Cushings Diseases is caused by the overproduction of cortisol. It is not an overly common disease and is typically seen is dogs over the age of 6. Hair loss is a primary symptom. If the condition of your dogs hair suddenly gets really bad and starts falling out you should have the vet test for Cushings.
Ringworm- Ringworm is a fungus that causes hair loss around the spot of infection. This is treated with a cream to kill the fungus. Once the fungus is cleared up the hair will grow back.
Mites- Mites like to bite on areas with thin skin such as around the ears and eyes. Their bites both irritate and itch and can lead to hair loss in those areas. Often times treating mites requites an oral or topical medication.
Pressure Sores- Pressure sores are more common on older or overweight dogs. They will get bald spots on their elbows or other more bony parts of the body that come into regular contact with the floor. Over time, the regular pressure on those spots cause the skin to thicken and that is when hair falls out. If the skin is really thick and dry you can apply moisturizer to the spots, but it is not likely the hair will grow back.
Anxiety- There are a lot of dogs that will worry a spot bald due to anxiety habits. This is more common in dogs that are left alone or in single dog households. If a dog had a regular sore in one spot they can also develop a worrying habit. If your dog is worrying from anxiety try giving them some rescue remedy to help quell their anxiety, a toy to play with, more regular exercise, or take a look at these great tips for helping your dog manage anxiety. If your dog won’t stop worrying a spot you may want to try a Elizabethan collar. This will prevent them from being able to lick.
If you have any sudden hair loss in your dog it is a good idea to contact your Albuquerque veterinarian. Unless you know this is from anxiety it is typically a symptom of something else going on and you will want to make sure to get your dog treated.