Alopecia in Dogs: Causes And Treatment

Alopecia in Dogs

Absolutely! Here’s a breakdown of alopecia (hair loss) in dogs, the potential causes, how it’s diagnosed, and what you can do about it.

Alopecia in Dogs: When Hair Loss is a Red Flag

Alopecia in dogs refers to significant hair loss, which goes beyond normal shedding. It’s a symptom, not a disease itself, and can have a wide range of underlying causes.

Types of Alopecia

  • Seasonal Molting: The most natural form. Dogs shed their coat twice a year to adapt to changing temperatures.
  • Allergies: Food, environmental, or flea allergies can trigger itching, hair loss, and skin issues.
  • Parasites: Fleas, mites, ticks, and worms can cause skin irritation and hair loss.
  • Infections: Bacterial or fungal (ringworm) infections can lead to bald patches and skin problems.
  • Hormonal Imbalances: Conditions like hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) or Cushing’s disease (overproduction of cortisol) disrupt hair growth cycles.
  • Stress/Anxiety: Can cause excessive licking or chewing, leading to hair loss.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies: A poor diet lacking essential vitamins and minerals can affect skin and coat health.
  • Medications: Certain medications can have hair loss as a side effect.
  • Genetics: Some breeds (Dachshunds, Dobermans, Chihuahuas) are predisposed to specific types of alopecia.
  • Alopecia X: A condition with unknown causes, often seen in Nordic breeds.

Recognizing Alopecia: Key Signs

  • Bald patches or areas of thinning hair
  • Symmetrical hair loss
  • Itchy or irritated skin
  • Changes in skin color (redness, hyperpigmentation)
  • Rashes, lesions, or crusting
  • Changes in overall coat quality (dullness, brittleness)

Diagnosing Alopecia

Your veterinarian is your best ally in tackling the cause of the hair loss. They’ll need:

  • Detailed History: Your dog’s breed, age, diet, medication, recent illnesses, and travel.
  • Physical Exam: To assess hair loss patterns and overall health.
  • Skin Tests: Skin scrapings, fungal cultures, or biopsies to rule out parasites, infections, and other abnormalities.
  • Blood Tests: To check hormone levels or organ function.
  • Allergy Testing: If allergies are suspected.

Treating Alopecia: It Depends on the Cause

Treatment is tailored to the underlying problem. Here are potential treatment options:

  • Parasite Control: Flea/tick prevention, deworming medication.
  • Dietary Changes: High-quality food, hypoallergenic diet for allergies.
  • Medications: Antibiotics for infections, antifungals for ringworm, hormone therapy for imbalances.
  • Supplements: Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E to support skin health.
  • Topical Treatments: Medicated shampoos or ointments may be used for skin conditions.
  • Addressing Stress: Create a calming environment and address causes of anxiety.

Key Takeaways

  • Alopecia isn’t normal: Significant hair loss warrants a vet visit to find the root cause.
  • Early Diagnosis is Key: The sooner the underlying issue is treated, the better the chances for hair regrowth.
  • Don’t Self-Treat: Home remedies might mask symptoms and delay proper diagnosis.
  • Prevention Matters: Regular vet checkups, good nutrition, and parasite control help minimize the risk of many conditions that can lead to hair loss.

Remember, a healthy coat is often a reflection of your dog’s overall health. By being observant and working with your veterinarian, you can help your furry friend maintain their beautiful coat and feel their best!

What Is Alopecia in Dogs?

A pathology in which a pet’s fur partially or completely falls out. Not to be confused with regular shedding. Baldness or impaired hair growth are alarming signs in a dog’s body. These may be internal or external deviations from the norm.

Owners of the following dog breeds should be especially attentive to their pets:

  • Staffordshire Terrier;
  • Bulldog;
  • Doberman;
  • Poodle;
  • Spitz;
  • Chow-chow;
  • Miniature pinscher.

There is no clear cause for baldness in animals. The process happens unpredictably and sometimes quickly. There is no clear treatment regimen or method, so the disease is called “alopecia X.”

Alopecia X in dogs is not a specific disease, it is a complex of symptoms and a combination of several diseases, which interferes with the treatment and diagnosis of the pathology.

The dog itself does not feel any particular discomfort; the absence of itching and pain does not prevent the pet from enjoying life. But it’s unpleasant for the owner to collect clumps of wool around the house and watch his pet go bald.

Types of Alopecia:

There are many types and causes of alopecia. Let’s consider both the most common and rare causes. There are also a number of alopecias that cannot be treated or do not require treatment.

Atopic Dermatitis:

Due to itching, the dog acquires alopecia, often asymmetrical and inflammatory.

Characteristic clinical signs are lesions (at the beginning of the disease it is erythema, later, as a rule, symptoms of secondary infections and signs of chronic inflammation are added – lichenification and hyperpigmentation), located on the face (around the eyes, on the lips), in the groin and armpits, around the anus, as well as in the interdigital spaces and ear canal. And definitely itching.


Dermatophytosis is an infection of the skin, hair, and nails caused by fungi of the genus Microsporum, Trichophyton, or Epidermophyton.

Classic symptoms include patches of alopecia and scaling, typically on the face, head, and paws. Pruritus and inflammation are usually minimal, but sometimes the pruritic, pustular, and crusted forms can mimic allergy, parasitosis, miliary dermatitis, pyoderma, or pemphigus foliaceus.

Alopecia X:

X (x) – since the exact cause of development is still not known. It most often develops in Spitz-type dogs. Alopecia is non-inflammatory in nature. The tail and torso are most often affected by baldness.

Alopecia after Haircut:

Develops in dogs after machine cutting. The reasons are not entirely clear. Alopecia is non-inflammatory. May be of irregular shape, different quantities. The fur begins to grow back on its own after 3-6 months.

Tension Alopecia:

Formed in a place where there is excessive tension in the fur. May be associated with the formation of tangles. Also occurs in dogs whose ponytails and braids are tied too tightly, such as Yorkshire terriers and Maltese. If the process is prolonged, the hair may not grow back.

Alopecia Cyclic Lateral:

More often characterized by seasonality, it appears in late autumn and the fur grows closer to summer. Defeat looks like a geographical map. No therapy is required.

Color Mutation Alopecia:

Or a blue Doberman. Despite the interesting name, it is found not only among representatives of this breed. The main manifestation is severe baldness over the entire body of the animal.

The appearance of the syndrome is associated with a weakening of color genes, although the main reasons for the development of the disease are still not fully understood.

Solar Dermatitis:

Mostly, alopecia is grouped on the pet’s face. This disease usually affects animals with lightly pigmented, light skin around the nose.

In addition to excessive hair loss, this disease can become a trigger for the emergence of various autoimmune pathologies and the formation of painful skin abscesses and ulcers.


This pathology is characterized by increased production of sebum. There are two types of seborrhea: dry and oily. As a rule, it is dry seborrhea that provokes profuse hair loss. A large number of white skin scales form on the patient’s body; hairs come out easily; you just need to run your hand over the pet’s fur.

Non-inflammatory Alopecia:

Sometimes slight peeling of the skin may be present. Toys, dachshunds, Italian greyhounds, whippets, and Boston terriers are most susceptible.

Areas of hypotrichosis and alopecia appear at a young age and can progress over time. The disease is characterized by the symmetry of lesions limited to certain areas of the body.

With pattern alopecia, there are three main syndromes: alopecia of the auricles, ventral alopecia, and alopecia of the caudal surface of the thighs.

Cause of Hair Loss:

The cause of hair loss remains unknown, but some studies point to the hormonal imbalance of sex hormones. This is usually a hereditary factor. Large-scale baldness begins in some parts of the body, but alopecia in a Spitz dog spreads further.

The tail, body, and hips lose their fur, but the paws and head remain fluffy. The disease is expressed in different ways, it all depends on the causes. This may be partial or total hair loss.

Seasonal Molt:

The most common cause of baldness is seasonal shedding – the periodic change of skin and its various formations,

for example, hair. On average, adult dogs change their coat twice a year. However, some pets lose hair almost throughout the year, because the temperature in the apartment is maintained at a fairly high temperature and the dog does not need such dense “protection” when warm. In addition, breeds such as huskies, spitzes, and huskies are heavy-shedding breeds, but short-haired varieties such as chihuahuas, dachshunds, and pinschers, on the contrary, leave practically no hair.

Here are a few signs that indicate the beginning of seasonal shedding:

  • Is it spring or autumn;
  • The dog is scratching himself;
  • The dog’s appetite, mood, and behavior remain at the same level;
  • Hair falls out moderately, without leaving large and obvious bald patches;
  • After combing, new shiny fur appears.

In the fall, around September, dogs shed their light, thin summer fur, and gradually acquire thick winter fur. At this time, the animal seems to increase in volume, building up a dense fluffy undercoat. Unlike autumn molting, spring molting occurs much faster.

The dog sheds “extra” hairs abundantly, preparing for the upcoming hot days. The owner can significantly speed up this process by regularly brushing his tailed ward.

Unbalanced Diet:

Often, owners feed the dog natural food. Of course, this is beneficial if the diet contains enough vitamins B and C, as well as biotin vitamins. Don’t forget that the dog eats fruits and vegetables with pleasure, but owners most often miss this point.

Alopecia in dogs develops as a result of a lack of minerals, trace elements, and vitamins in the body. The fur will begin to fade and fall out much more. Bald patches appear, which greatly upsets the owners. Dogs fed commercial food receive a balanced diet, and the risk of contracting this type of illness is much lower, almost eliminated.


Not only people but also dogs can have allergies. This is usually a food allergy. The pet develops loose stools and watery eyes. If your dog itches and whines, it is most likely an allergy to the shampoo used to wash the animal. This type of baldness is often focal.

Alopecia in dogs due to allergies causes them to refuse to walk and eat. The general condition worsens. Particular attention should be paid to places where alopecia may worsen:

  • Behind the ears;
  • On the neck;
  • On the stomach;
  • Under the paws.

Scratching, dry skin, and ulcers appear in these areas. The dog itself worsens its condition by constantly scratching and infecting the ulcers. In such cases, the component that causes inconvenience should be identified, eliminated from use, and treated.


The cause of alopecia in dogs is often damage to the body by round or flat helminths. To avoid disease, it is recommended that your dog be given deworming medications every three months.

Parasites can nest on both the skin and internal organs. External parasites cause severe itching when they bite an animal. The dog begins to itch, tearing out its fur.


A decrease in thyroid hormones leads to the appearance of patches of baldness. Alopecia with thickened, hyperpigmented, and cold skin (myxedema) is a classic symptom. Common dermatological problems include dry, brittle, dull coat, scaling, hyperpigmentation, and secondary infections. Alopecia may be limited to the tail and bridge of the nose.

Stressful State:

In such cases, the pet refuses to play, walk, and eat. Stress can arise due to the loss of an owner, moving, or the loss of another animal to which the dog has become attached. In such cases, the dog loses hair evenly throughout the body, and stool and blood tests show no abnormalities.

Good communication with your pet will come to the rescue. You should pay more attention to him than usual. Create a quiet and warm environment. Give vitamins and high-calorie food.


The appearance of baldness in a pregnant female is often caused by a deficiency of vitamins, anxiety, and hormonal imbalance. The expectant mother should always have the opportunity to eat well and quench her thirst. A pregnant dog needs rest and does not like increased attention.


The most common causative agent of this bacterial infection is Staphylococcus. More often than others, pets whose owners neglect grooming hygiene, as well as dogs with a lot of folds, for example, Shar-Peis and Basset Hounds, suffer from this disease. The main signs of damage are multiple bald patches, stench, ulcers, and severe itching.

Yeast Infections:

Ringworm is a particular danger in this type of fungal disease. It not only causes severe baldness in animals but is also easily transmitted to humans. In addition to excessive hair loss, additional symptoms are a strong unpleasant odor and increased oily skin.


As you have already seen, there are many problems manifested by alopecia. There are many types that do not require treatment.

However, diagnosis is still required, since it can be quite difficult to determine the species by eye. To determine the causes and type of alopecia, they resort to standard dermatological research methods, such as skin scrapings,

Wood’s lamp, and trichoscopy of hair from healthy areas. Cytological and histological examination of the skin. Additionally, blood tests, both standard and to detect changes in hormone levels, and ultrasound may be required.

Only a veterinarian can make a final diagnosis for your pet after conducting a series of studies. These may include:

  • Taking anamnesis;
  • Visual inspection;
  • Wood’s lamp diagnostics;
  • Clinical analysis and blood biochemistry;
  • Hormone research;
  • Skin scraping;
  • Biopsy;
  • Stool and urine samples as additional diagnostic methods.


Baldness is usually treated with shampoos and antibiotics. In certain cases, hormonal drugs are prescribed if the cause of the disease requires it. If a tumor or skin formation is present, surgical intervention is necessary. Therapy is necessary to eliminate the cause.

  • Depending on the cause, it is possible to prescribe treatment for ectoparasites, which excludes diets. Hormonal therapy, if necessary.
  • To treat x-alopecia, surgical or chemical castration is primarily used; most often it gives a positive result, but it can be only temporary. Many owners decide not to experiment with treatment, since the problem is only a cosmetic defect.
  • Treatment of severe forms of alopecia must necessarily occur with the participation of a veterinarian. Some infectious or endocrine pathologies can quickly lead to a deterioration in the pet’s condition, so you should not get carried away with self-medication.


It is necessary to strictly follow the prescribed treatment. Also, keep an eye on your dog’s coat to ensure that your dog doesn’t experience hair loss again.

Aapt Dubey
Aapt Dubey

Aapt Dubey, a devoted canine enthusiast and experienced dog Owner, brings boundless passion to our team. With a heart full of love for our four-legged friends, Aapt is dedicated to sharing insights on dog care, behavior, and training to make every pup's life happier and healthier at

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