Male pattern baldness may run in your family, but you can be fairly certain it doesn’t apply to your big boy, Rover. Some breeds do shed prolifically certain times of year, but if he's truly balding or develops bare patches, it’s time to see the vet to determine the cause. Hair loss may be brought on by a number of factors.
If your dog has thick fur, fleas are not easy for you to see, but these tiny invaders can cause more than an itch. Some dogs are extra-sensitive to the saliva in flea bites, and their scratching can cause a skin infection that can lead to hair loss. You'll avoid the problem with the use of monthly flea control products after you've eradicated an infestation with the vet's help. Use these products year-round for the best protection.
Allergies are another common cause of skin infections. Dogs can have inhalant allergies, but instead of sneezing, they itch. Veterinarians typically see a spike in skin issues, and hair loss, during high-pollen months. Ask your vet about soothing shampoos or cortisone conditioners that can help the pooch ride out the season. Another cause of skin infection is allergy to certain foods. Allergy profiles are available to see if he is sensitive to various ingredients. In order to run such a profile, your veterinarian needs to perform a simple blood draw.
Certain breeds are genetically prone to hair loss conditions. Blue Dobermans, for example, because of their color, have a condition that causes balding over the body. Dachshunds are prone to hair loss on the ears, and collies often lose hair around their nose. Ask your vet about any preventive measures you can take.
Mange is due to a skin mite that typically surfaces in puppies, or adults with an immune deficiency. Besides hair loss, a temporary thickening of the skin is common. Fungal infections such as ringworm cause circular patches of balding. Both are treatable by your veterinarian.
Diseases such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s are common contributors to hair loss. Cushing’s can be harder to regulate than hypothyroidism, however both are manageable through medications. Regular blood draws are needed to check cortisone and thyroid levels, but once regulated owners often see a regrowth of hair.
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