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dog hair loss
Dog Hair Loss - information, causes, symptoms and treatment

Hair Loss in Dogs: Is it Normal or Atypical?

You notice hair loss in your dog. You wonder whether it is normal or is there something more sinister at work. Different dogs have different types of coats and experience different patterns of hair growth and loss. Some dogs lose more hair than others, but you are still left wondering if what you pet is experiencing is normal.

Hair growth and loss in dogs is cyclical. There are three stages in the hair growth cycle:

  • Anagen stage. This is where the hair goes through a period of growth. There is growth in the hair roots which increases hair shaft.
  • Catagen stage. This is a temporary phase prior to the next stage beginning.
  • Telogen stage. This refers to the phase where the hair cycle is resting. In more cases than not, Telogen is the main phase.

Shedding or hair loss in dogs is not predicable. The patterns are a result of a number of different influences, such as the environmental surrounds, genetics and diet. Some reasons for hair loss in dogs are:

  • Hormones. These can either encourage or retard the growth of hair in dogs.
  • Androgens. Are responsible for a longer resting stage in the hair growth cycle and create courser hair.
  • Progesterone. Similar to Androgens but reduce hair growth.
  • Estrogen. Produces a longer resting stage and the consequence is fine, sparse follicles.
  • Insulin. Diabetes can cause hair loss.
  • Thyroid Hormone. A lack of thyroxin often causes hair loss.

Hair loss in dogs is also affected by diet-related issues, such as:

  • Lack of protein. The hair becomes dry, and is fragile and sparse.
  • B Vitamins. Required for healthy hair growth.
  • Copper. Also necessary for proper hair growth.

The patterns of hair loss in a dog can also assist identification as to what the actual reason for hair loss is and the most effective treatment. That is, the three patterns that help to identify conditions associated with hair loss include:

  • Localized hair loss. This is when there is just a single patch of hair loss. This can be due to injections, post-clipping and fungal infections.
  • Multifocal hair loss. This particular pattern looks like a moth has eaten through cloth. It is patchy and can appear all over the skin.
  • Symmetrical or diffuse. There is either a symmetrical pattern to the hair loss or it is scattered over the entire body.

A certain amount of hair loss in dogs is quite normal. Sometimes, large quantities of hair loss in dogs can be common. Depending upon the breed, environmental conditions and diet, dogs vary significantly with the amount of hair they lose. If concerned about your pet’s hair loss and unsure as to whether it is abnormal, it is important to have knowledge of the three main stages of the hair growth cycle; some of the reasons hair growth can be affected; and, the different patterns of hair loss in dogs to look out for.

If at all concerned that it is not normal or usual, consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. The hair loss could signal something more grave than just seasonal hair loss. 

Dog Hair Loss - Canine Hair Loss - Dog Skin Problems