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Health & Wellness

What causes hair loss in dogs?

Tell your vet if the fur starts flying

Have you noticed that your dog has started to shed their fur? Veterinarian and pet health advocate Dr. Aliya McCullough, breaks down the possible reasons behind your pet’s hair loss. 

If you’re noticing hair loss, your vet will initially want to run some tests to rule out any contagious conditions like mites or scabies (which could be affecting your human family members, too). They’ll also want to know the history of the hair loss, so keep track of when the hair loss started and note if there are any other symptoms. 

The types of hair loss in pets can be broken down into four categories: 

  • Self-trauma
  • Inflammatory
  • Immune related
  • Non-itchy, non-inflammatory

Self-trauma

This hair loss occurs when your pet can’t stop scratching or chewing, which causes skin damage and eventual hair loss. Allergies and fleas and other parasites can all be super itchy and the scratching takes a toll on the fur. Some pets have behavioral or psychological issues that involve excessive licking or grooming that result in hair loss, too.

Inflammatory

Bacterial infections and inhaled allergies are a common inflammatory cause of hair loss. Mites that cause mange and fungal organisms that cause ringworms are both contagious and cause hair loss. 

Immune related 

This type of hair loss occurs when the dog’s immune system attacks the hair follicles. Although it's rare, you should still ask your vet to rule it out as it may be a symptom of a deeper problem.

Non-itchy, non-inflammatory

Some hair loss is purely cosmetic and doesn’t affect your dog’s overall health. Be sure to wrap them in a jacket during the winter and wear sunscreen in the summer to keep them healthy. 

If you’re noticing hair loss, check in with your vet to determine the cause. In the meantime, try adding an omega-3 supplement to their diet to support skin and hair health.

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