Alopecia refers to any type of disorder that causes hair deficiency in a dog’s coat. Pet owners commonly identify complete hair loss with alopecia, which can include patterns or random occurrences of bald patches or larger areas of hair loss. But alopecia also encompasses issues that affect regrowth of the hair shaft or inhibit hair growth.
Alopecia can occur anywhere on a dog’s coat, including the face, tail base, back, torso, and legs. Hair loss in dogs can also affect all breeds, independent of age and gender. Breeds with a proclivity to certain types of alopecia include doberman pinschers, boxers, bulldogs, airedale terriers, pomeranians, chow chows, miniature poodles, samoyeds, and siberian huskies.
The key to treating alopecia depends on its underlying cause, which must be diagnosed by a veterinarian.
The causes of hair loss in dogs vary greatly, which can make treating alopecia tricky. Causes typically fall under three categories: parasites, allergies, or endocrine and hormonal disorders. Vets will examine the symptoms of the alopecia to determine what the underlying cause and best course of treatment will be.
Hair loss symptoms among dogs can vary significantly. Some dogs will lose a patch of hair that may grow back, or not. Others will have gradual hair loss that spreads to other parts of the coat. Some pets will display more symptoms due to the nature of their disorder, such as itching, scabbing, scaly skin, and inflammation. Other dogs will display no other symptoms other than hair loss.
Veterinarians must first diagnose the underlying cause of alopecia in order to treat the hair loss. In some cases, treating the cause of alopecia will cure it completely, while some treatments may need to be administered regularly. Common treatments include medical shampoos, ointments, antibiotics, medication, supplements, and change in diet.