Hair Loss in Dogs
Alopecia is the loss of hair. Alopecia is not a disease; it is a sign or symptom of a number of diseases or disorders that a dog may have.
Signs & Symptoms of Hair Loss in Dogs
- Areas of baldness
- Hair loss with the absence of irritated skin
- Hair loss with skin irritation and scabs
Causes of Hair Loss in Dogs
Alopecia can be caused by many conditions in dogs, including hormonal problems, nutritional diseases, physical and chemical factors, parasites, and immune-mediated diseases.
Diagnosis of Hair Loss in Dogs
Diagnosis begins with a complete history and a physical exam of the dog. Because alopecia is the result of some underlying disease process, expect your veterinarian to do several tests on your dog to rule out a few causes, and to perform tests looking for the chief problem. You veterinarian will likely do the following:
- CBC/Chemistry panel - These blood tests will evaluate various internal organ functions, including the heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas, metabolism, and electrolyte balance. The CBC (complete blood count) is a measure of the amount and different kinds of red and white blood cells that are present in the body.
- Skin scraping - This test involves scraping the skin of a lesion and making the lesion bleed slightly. This will be virtually painless for your dog. The substance scraped will then be put on a slide and examined under a microscope.
- Fungal culture - This test will determine if your dog has a fungus present on its skin. Your veterinarian will pluck tufts of hair from around your dog’s lesions and place it on a fungal culture medium. The medium is put in a warm, dark place for 7-21 days to allow growth, and then examined under a microscope to determine the type of fungus present.
- Baseline T4 or Total T4 (TT4) - This blood test will determine the level of T4 thyroid hormone in the bloodstream. Your veterinarian may perform this test to rule out any thyroid issues that may be causing hair loss in your dog.
Treatment for Hair Loss in Dogs
Treatment will be determined once the underlying process causing the hair loss has been diagnosed.