Understanding Hair Loss in Dogs

Hair loss is a common condition in dogs and can manifest as bald circles, patches or complete shedding. If your dog is losing hair, you may also notice inflammation, scaling or crusting around the area of hair loss. The condition may not seem serious, but it is indicative of underlying health problems, so should never be ignored. Here's what you need to know about hair loss in dogs:


Common causes of hair loss in dogs include:

  • Mange, which is a skin disease caused by a mite
  • A hormonal disorder such as increased levels of oestrogen or a sharp fall in testosterone, which can disrupt the functioning of your dog's hair follicles
  • A bacterial or fungal infection such as ringworm
  • Thyroid dysfunction

Diagnosis And Treatment

Your vet will diagnose the underlying cause of your dog's hair loss by physically examining the affected area and taking details of your dog's health history. They can tell quite a bit about the cause by observing the pattern of hair loss. Symmetrical hair loss tends to indicate a thyroid or other hormonal problem, patchy hair loss is often seen with mange and when skin inflammation occurs at the site of the hair loss, an infection may be to blame.

Your vet will confirm their diagnosis by taking blood and skin cell samples. Blood tests can be used to check thyroid function, hormone levels and the presence of inflammation. Skin cell samples can be analysed for bacteria, fungus and the mites that cause mange. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the hair loss, but can include:

  • Confinement—Mange and skin infections are contagious, so your vet may suggest your dog stays at the clinic until their condition improves.
  • Medicated Shampoo—Your vet can prescribe shampoo with antibacterial or antifungal properties that will calm inflamed skin and promote healing.
  • Antibiotics—A bacterial infection will require antibiotics, and your vet will decide which antibiotics to prescribe based on your dog's test results.
  • Antifungals—Ringworm requires topical antifungal medication and your dog may need to wear a surgical collar to prevent them from licking the ointment off their skin. Ringworm can be transmitted to other animals, so all pets in your home should be treated even if they aren't yet showing symptoms.
  • An Anti-Parasitic Regime—Mange can be difficult to wipe out and requires an intense treatment regime of topical and oral anti-parasitic medications. Your vet will take regular skin cell samples during treatment to ensure the mange is responding to treatment.
  • Hormone Therapy—Your dog can be given synthetic hormones to balance their endocrine system. Treatment may be temporary or required for the rest of their life depending on the hormone that needs to be supplemented.

If your dog develops patches of hair loss or inflamed skin, schedule an appointment with a clinic like Baw Baw Paws Vet Clinic as soon as possible as some conditions are easier to treat when caught early.