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Diseases, Vet Minute

Vet Minute: Alopecia in Dogs

August 11, 2022

Vet Minute: Alopecia in Dogs

Last updated: October 12, 2020

Is your dog’s fur falling off and you don’t know why? Is it symmetrical hair loss on your dog or random spots? Dr. Marty Greer, Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services, talks about common causes of canine alopecia including dog mites, allergies and hormonal diseases. Dr. Greer also shares why finding the correct cause of hair loss in dogs is so important.
If you have any questions or need help, call us at 800.786.4751.


Video Transcript

Shelley: Time for a Vet Minute with Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services, Dr. Marty Greer. Dr. Greer the question is about alopecia in dogs. What are the symptoms, causes and what types of treatments are available?

Dr. Greer: Well this is a huge question. So alopecia for starters means hair loss. So it can happen for lots and lots of reasons. Obviously if a dog is shaved for a surgical procedure or catheter, that’s alopecia technically. But most of the time we have a pretty good answer for that. So symptoms associated with the alopecia or hair loss are going to be scratching, itching, licking and biting, sometimes there are scabs. Sometimes there are sores. Sometimes it is just a quiet looking area where the hair is missing. So there is a lot of different assortments on how this can happen. There’s hormonal diseases such as thyroid disease and Cushings disease that can cause significant hair loss. Typically those are symmetrical and not just in one spot. If the right side has it, then the left side has it too. It can be due to allergies. We see a lot of allergies in dogs, especially in the summertime. We can see pollen and mold allergies. But we can see food allergies, flea allergies, a variety of different reasons for dogs to react allergically to something. So we will see a hair loss associated with some of those. We can see staph infections which can happen from anything that breaks the skin. An insect bite or it can be secondary to allergies so anytime there is a break in the skin and the bacterial infection develops, that’s a staph infection. Staph is a normal bacteria to see on the skin of dogs and cats, but when they develop an infection the number of bacteria in that area becomes 10 fold of what it was before, so you’ll frequently see a rash associated with that. We can see mites, so we can see a variety of different kinds of skin mites, we can see Cheyletiella which is walking dandruff. We can see demodex which is a genetic disorder. We can see scabies mites which are contagious. So a variety of different mites as well. The problem is without a diagnosis we can’t really give you a treatment. We can’t just say here’s a shampoo or here’s an antibiotic or here’s a steroid, or here’s another allergy medication. We’ve got a lot of great medications, but the first thing you need to have is a diagnosis so we make sure you are on the right medication, you’re not spending your money on something that is not appropriate. And that your pet isn’t being subjected to medications that are not the right thing for their condition. So you are probably going to need to either do a telephone consult with a video with your veterinarian so they can see the lesions or an in-person visit so you can get the appropriate shampoo or oral medications to manage that disease.

Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 35+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.