Why is my dog losing hair all over the house? It's a common question that often exasperated owners have to ask themselves as they pick up an ever more drastic trail of hair, fur, and fluff from around their home.
Spare a moment to think about your dog, too. Hair loss in dogs is a common occurrence known as alopecia. It mainly occurs when the breed is prone to seasonal shedding of fur or when your dog is aging - but it can also be a more serious sign of an underlying medical condition, allergies, or infections.
There are many reasons for dog hair loss, and it's important to understand why your dog is shedding its fur. In this article, we'll explore the causes of hair loss in dogs, so you know when to take further action!
Common signs of dog hair loss
The signs and symptoms of hair loss in dogs can vary drastically from one dog and one breed to the next.
By hair loss, we don't mean that your wake up to find your dog has become completely bald overnight - it's much more subtle than that. But catch the signs early, and you can seek an early diagnosis if there is an underlying medical cause (if you think your dog is sick, then read this article).
Many dogs shed hair seasonally, and this is nothing to worry about. However, if their hair shedding appears to be excessive, then this could be alopecia.
There are several dog alopecia symptoms you can look out for:
- Your dog's hair feels brittle
- Your dog's hair feels dry
- Clumps of hair fall out when you stroke your dog
- There are patches on your dog's coat
- Your dog's hair is thinning out, and skin is becoming visible
- There's an excessive amount of hair around the house
- Your dog is irritated or scratching excessively
Symptoms can be localized in one area, such as your dog losing hair on tail, or your dog losing hair around eyes or ears, for example. It can also be more widespread. If your pet is experiencing dog sudden hair loss and has lost masses of hair quickly, then take them to see the vet.
Common causes of hair loss in dogs
As we mentioned, dog hair loss can be totally normal. It's often just part of growing old or changing seasons. However, there are several dog alopecia causes that you should be concerned about.
Here are the most common causes for your dog losing hair:
- Seasonal shedding of hair
- Infestations and parasites
- Medical conditions
Let's take a look at these in more detail:
#1 Seasonal shedding of hair
Seasonal shedding is the most common reason for hair loss in many breeds of dogs. It's nothing to worry about, but it can be a chore having to clean up all the hair around the home!
Dogs usually start to shed their fur in the spring to give themselves a lighter coat for the hotter summer months. As you can imagine, hairier dogs are going to shed more fur than lighter coated dogs!
Seasonal shedding shouldn't lead to bald patches or other symptoms of alopecia, however, so watch out when your dog begins to molt.
Just as humans suffer from allergies, so too can dogs. This can also be a seasonal problem, and dogs that are affected or irritated by pollen, for instance, can start to lose hair during hayfever season.
Dogs can also be affected or have allergic reactions to many household cleaners or detergents, so be careful when you're spraying things around the home.
Allergies can be minor, but if they start to cause excessive shedding of fur, bleeding, itching, or soreness, then take your dog to the vet.
Dogs can pick up bacterial or fungal infections that lead to irritated skin itching, scratching, and hair loss. These infections can be picked up around the home, in the garden, or when out walking - they are usually harmless but can be cause for concern if they grow in numbers!
One of the most common fungal infections is caused by ringworm. This infection leads to irritated and red skin and needs to be treated with a course of antibiotics. Consult your vet for information on prevention and treatment.
#4 Infestations and parasites
Infestations and parasites can cause similar irritation, itchiness, soreness, and hair loss that infections do. Unfortunately, dogs and their lovely fur coats offer pleasant breeding grounds for ticks, mites, and fleas.
If a dog has mites and is continually scratching themselves (a condition known as Mange), they can literally scrape the hair off their coats. The same goes for fleas and ticks.
All of these infestations are extremely unpleasant and incredibly contagious. Fleas, ticks, and mites jump from one dog to the next, so you must keep your pet quarantined. Seek out veterinary advice quickly, as despite being nasty, it's a very treatable condition!
Owners can often prevent parasites (and their eggs) from taking hold in the first place, too. Regularly cleaning your dog's fur with a flea-controlling shampoo is a simple method to keep the parasites at bay.
#5 Underlying medical conditions
Although much rarer, sudden excessive hair loss can be the result of an underlying medical condition. Often, though, hair loss will be just one symptom of a medical condition. If alopecia is accompanied by symptoms such as bleeding, vomiting, lethargy, or anything else unusual, then contact your vet immediately for a diagnosis.
The most common underlying condition related to hair loss is Cushing's Disease. This can be seen in older dogs when the body makes too much of the cortisol steroid hormone. This itself can be the result of cancer or a tumor.
Cushing's Disease is a chronic condition that results in many other conditions, as it can lower a dog's immune response or lead to an increased chance of diabetes.
Dog losing hair: how can I treat alopecia?
Treatments for alopecia vary greatly, as it all depends on the cause of the hair loss.
If your dog is shedding hair seasonally, then keep them comfortable by frequently washing their coats and removing clumps of loose hair. Equally, it's important to keep their coats washed with anti-flea, mite, and tick shampoos to avoid them contracting parasites in the first place.
If you think the problem is serious and not seasonal, always consult your local vet for further advice. Remember, your dog can't talk to you, but you can look out for signs of discomfort, itching, soreness, scratching, bleeding, and excessive hair loss.
Why not bookmark our guide to hair loss in dogs, so you can help your dog if their fur starts shedding?