With proper nutrition and proper care, the situation when a dog is losing hair is a natural process and does not require veterinary supervision. Seasonal shedding occurs in domestic animals twice a year: in autumn and in spring. But if the coat is thinning significantly and hair falls out too actively or if it is an out-of-season molting, a caring guardian should be alerted, since this phenomenon may prove to be a symptom of a serious disease, or pest infestation.
Possible Causes of Hair Loss
The coat is very important for animals, as it is a reliable protection from the negative conditions. It protects the pet from bad weather, infectious diseases, parasites and also serves as an indicator of the pet’s health. Lustre coat wool shows that the dog is healthy, fares well and there’s nothing to worry about. Dingy and lifeless-looking coat wool, especially when accompanied with significant hair shredding, may speak of great health problems. The causes of this disease are divided into two groups:
- Hormonal – symmetrical;
- Non-Hormonal – asymmetrical loss of coat / dog’ hair is falling out in patches.
Possible causes of hormone disruption in dogs can be due to these negative factors:
- Ill-balanced and irregular feeding
- Kidney and gastrointestinal diseases
- Depressed immune system function
- Pest infestation
- Invasive diseases
Hormonal changes may occur due to lack of estrogen in sterilized females. Wool becomes thinner, the dog is rapidly gaining weight, ugly patches of bald skin appear.
Hormonal Disruptions in Dogs
The most frequent cause of out-of-season molting in a dog is a severe disruption of its hormonal system manifested by appearance of hairless patches all over the dog’s body. Diseases of this kind include:
- Hypothyroidism, which is a pathology of a thyroid gland. Senior dogs and overweight ones are most likely to have this disorder. Symptoms of the disease are: active hair loss, hyperpigmentation of the skin and in some cases even infrequent pulse. Synthetic hormones are inserted for the treatment of the disease, for example, the Levothyroxine solution.
- Cushing syndrome (an excess of cortisol in organism, a hormone responsible for withstanding stress) – this disorder triggers active hair loss in dogs. Moreover, the animal shows signs of increased thirst, frequent desire to urinate and overall inadequately of behavior. The skin looks sore, small scabs appear all over the body. The pet shows no interest in food, loses weight, a noticeable abdominal inflation may also be visible. For effective treatment, it is necessary to administer a proper medication that suppresses the production of the cortisol, for example, Vetoril;
- Hypopituitary Dwarfism (lack of growth hormone) is a rare condition in dogs, and German shepherds are more often exposed to it. A characteristic symptom of the disease is that the dog shreds hair on its back. Also, the pet slows down or stops growing at all when it reaches the threshold of 5-6 months, it may have bad teeth, whole skin areas damaged by dermatitis and flakes of scurf. The treatment consists of hormonal medications and antibiotics.
- Hypoestrogenism (lack of estrogen) – occurs in senior females suffering from gynecological diseases. Hair falls out completely in the groin area and the skin itself looks thinner. The disease is treated by medications with estrogen;
- Hyperestrogenism (excess estrogen) – the dog begins losing hair on its sides, chest and abdomen, the process is usually accompanied swelling of the nipples in females and strong swelling of the testicles in the male dogs. The skin looks coarse, significantly increases the production of sulfur. Treatment is carried out surgically through the removal of the organs of reproduction .
If not Hormones – What Then?
Intense hair loss in a pet may also be due to these factors:
- Allergic response – it is the body’s reaction to an allergy-causing agent. The dog shreds hair, has some digestive problems, a rash appears on the skin (may also be accompanied by a grate deal of itching). Also, due to frequent scratching bleeding wounds can occur. Treatment is administered only after confirmation of an allergic response, which may include antihistamines, anti-inflammatory ointments and antibiotics.
- Stress – animals often undergo emotional overload due to various reasons. A dog not only shreds hair, but it howls, shows frequent desire to urinate, loses its appetite, refuses to play, becomes aggressive, or, on the contrary, is apathetic to everything. As of treatment, anti-stress therapy should be carried out by means of professionally prescribed sedatives.
- Parasites – if there is pest infestation, dog’s coat thins, it looks lifeless and dingy. The whole body is covered by small ulcers from bites, the dog scratches itself constantly and pulls out its hair with teeth. When infected with worms, the pet has problems with digestion, it may vomit recently consumed food and feces may contain worm-like invasions. The animal becomes restless, it cannot sleep and has no appetite. The treatment consists of anti-parasitic medications.
If the coat of the pet is thinning considerably, do not risk automedication. It is not likely to help, but may boost the progression of the disease. Timely identification of the underlying disease is the key to effective treatment and rapid healing. Try to monitor as carefully as possible the condition of your pet, perform timely deworming, if prescribed, try to help animal’s immune system fighting the disease by proper feeding and taking food care of your dog’s coat.