Alopecia is an abnormal type of hair loss caused by a disease or condition. Unlike seasonal shedding, this type of hair loss can appear in patterns, bald patches, and over specific areas of the head, body, legs, and tail. The symptoms and severity of alopecia will vary from case to case depending on the underlying cause of the hair loss.
The most common symptoms of alopecia include:
Noticeable hair loss
While some dogs develop thinning or brittle hair with age, alopecia affects the coat due to an underlying cause that requires treatment. Pet owners may notice bald patches or larger areas of complete or partial hair loss on their dogs. The hair loss may be gradual or sudden. In some cases, the hair may grow back partially and then fall out again. The hair loss may look symmetrical or random, or appear in completely bald patches. Hair loss can affect one specific area of the body, such as the base of the tail or the haunches, or appear all over.
While some dogs only exhibit hair loss with alopecia, others may also experience changes in the skin. Check for scaly skin, changes in skin color, inflammation, bites, redness, lesions, and hot spots. You may also find changes in the skin’s texture, such as thickened, oily, or thinner skin. Darkened skin is a symptom of one type of alopecia known as Alopecia X, or black skin disease.
Some dogs display symptoms such as scratching, biting, licking, or chewing their skin with alopecia. Dog’s with hormonal or endocrine disorders may also experience lethargy and other signs of illness.
Signs of alopecia can be connected to more serious illnesses, such as Cushing’s disease. If you notice hair loss on your pet’s coat, make sure to visit your veterinarian to diagnose the underlying cause.