Alopecia (Hair Loss) In Dogs

Alopecia (Hair Loss) In Dogs

Alopecia (hair loss) is another condition that humans and dogs have in common. It is defined as a complete or partial loss of hair, or a failure of hair to grow.

Note that this is different from the usual shedding of hair as seasons change which may involve patchy coats. This requires a diagnosis by a veterinarian who will prescribe treatments accordingly since it can affect the immune, lymphatic and endocrine systems.


The symptoms of alopecia in dogs are noticeable and appear as gradual or acute bald patches in the coat. Here is what you should look out for:

  • Loss of hair around eyes and mouth
  • Bald patches or overall hair loss
  • Symmetrical hair loss on both sides of the body
  • Scaly skin
  • Crusting and inflammation of the skin
  • Itchiness and wounds from scratching
  • Discolored, grey, or dark patches of skin
  • Oozing or bleeding at bald spots


Alopecia can be a result of diseases, infections, and conditions such as mange, caused by mites, which can cause hair loss and crusting, or Cushing’s disease where the body overproduces steroid hormones resulting in hair loss. Alopecia may also be caused by infections of ringworm (fungal infection) that causes circular patches along with lesions, inflammation, and crusting. It may also be caused by bacterial infections which are usually treated with antibiotics.

Alopecia may also be caused by allergies. This is usually a result of flea bites which leads to chewing and scratching of the skin which causes damage to their coats. It may also be a result of putting pressure on areas such as elbows, or wherever they lay on hard surfaces. This may also result in calluses which may crack and bleed. Another culprit is rashes and hives from contact with plants, chemicals, and even certain medications.

Some breeds are more likely to develop bald spots, and their alopecia is hereditary. This includes Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, Greyhounds, and Whippets.

Other causes include:

  • Reaction to a foreign body in the skin, eg splinter or glass
  • Reaction to vaccination
  • Nervous behaviors such as chewing and licking
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid issues
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Chemotherapy and certain cancers


Treatment for alopecia may include treating the underlying condition. This may include oral or topical antibiotics, antifungals, and steroids. It may also involve medicated shampoos for infections or antihistamines for allergic reactions. Treatment may also involve flea and tick treatment, insulin for diabetes, thyroid medication or hormone therapy, and surgery to remove tumors or cancer.

Supplements such as fish oil, Vitamin A and Vitamin E are useful for improving the health of your dog’s skin and fighting off infections. Using an Elizabethan collar may also be necessary to stop your dog from chewing and licking affected areas.

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