Hair Loss in Dogs (Canine Alopecia)

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Hair Loss in Dogs


It's natural that dogs lose their hair in between seasons, but losing a lot of hair not due to seasonal changes is another story.

Canine alopecia is a condition in which there is excessive hair loss in dogs. This condition is rather complicated as it can be triggered by quite a few causes.

Hair loss can be partial and localized (restricted to one or two places in the body) or complete and generalized.

Possible Causes of Hair Loss in Dogs

Here are some common reasons why a dog is losing his hair:

Skin Problems

In many cases, dog hair loss is caused by various skin problems, the most common ones being:

  • Ringworm;
  • Hot spots;
  • Demodectic mange;
  • Allergies (atopic dermatitis, fleabite allergies, or food allergies).

All of the above skin problems make a dog itch, and the incessant scratching, chewing, and licking in turn can lead to skin inflammation, lesions, and hair loss.

Hair loss in dogs caused by these skin problems is generally localized, limited to the parts of the body affected by the skin problem.

Breed-Specific Skin Problems

There are also some more breed-specific skin problems that can cause hair loss, for example:

  • Nasal Solar Dermatitis: Commonly known as "collie nose", this hair loss problem affects dogs with lightly pigmented noses. Dogs with this problem suffer hair loss at the junction of the nose and the muzzle.
  • Color Mutant Alopecia: Also known as the "blue doberman syndrome", this is a hereditary skin disease that occurs in fawn and blue-coated Doberman Pinschers, although some other breeds (e.g. blue Great Danes, Chow Chows, Whippets, etc.) may also have this problem.

    Dogs with color mutant alopecia suffer hair loss over the whole body with pustules appearing in the areas of hair loss.

  • Zinc-responsive Dermatosis: Caused by a deficiency of zinc, this problem results in hair loss over the face, nose, eblows and hocks. Breeds that are susceptible to this problem are the arctic or northern breeds, such as the Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes.
  • Sebaceous Adenitis: This is an inherited skin problem that affects Standard Poodles quite frequently, although other breeds (e.g. Samoyeds, Akitas) can also develop sebaceous adenitis.

    Dogs suffering from this disease will have symmetrical hair loss on the muzzle, top of the head, ear flaps, and the top of the neck, trunk and tail.


New hairs require a lot of nutrients and protein to grow and replace the old dead ones. A lack of nutrients can result in brittle and weak hair, as well as scanty hair growth.

Poor nutrition can be caused by poor, low-quality foods, poor absorption of nutrients, or internal parasites such as worms.

Hair loss caused by malnutrition tends to be generalized, affecting the whole body of the dog.

Hormonal Problems

Hair loss in dogs may also be caused by hormonal problems, such as:

Hair loss caused by hormonal imbalances also tend to be generalized, affecting the whole body of the dog. This type of alopecia usually occurs in middle-aged to older dogs.

Emotional Problems

Some dogs may experience hair loss when they are under stress, or when they have anxiety. Usually a stressed or anxious dog will scratch and lick himself excessively, sometimes to the point of self-mutilation.

If your dog suffers from hair loss due to stress or anxiety, you may want to try using natural remedies to calm and relax your dog. Click here for more information on this topic.

Dog Hair Loss Causes

Signs That Your Dog is Losing Hair

Besides all the dog hair flying around in your house, you will also notice that your dog's haircoat is thinning - often to the point where you can see the skin.

For localized hair loss in dogs, you will see bald patches in your dog's skin. Some cases of hair loss are accompanied by a change in skin pigmentation.

If your dog suddenly starts losing hair, also take note of any other illness signs and symptoms that he may have. This can greatly help your veterinarian in diagnosis.

Natural Remedies for Hair Loss in Dogs

Causes of Hair Loss in Dogs The most important thing to remember is that hair loss in dogs is an indication that the dog is likely to be suffering from some health problem. It is therefore essential to get your dog to the veterinarian for a check-up to identify the underlying cause, so that appropriate treatment can be given.

Meanwhile, a species-appropriate diet, natural remedies and supplements can be used to improve the hair and skin conditions of dogs.


Hair is made of protein, so the quality of protein in your dog's food will affect how his hair grows and looks. It follows that if you want your dog to have healthy hair, feed him a healthy natural diet that contains high-quality animal proteins such as chicken, turkey, salmon, etc.

Many dog parents have found that feeding their dogs a raw diet can greatly improve the dog's hair quality and skin condition.


Supplements such as Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins (especially A, C, and E) are beneficial to the skin and haircoat. Adding these supplements to your dog's diet may help prevent some skin problems that may result in hair loss.

A good supplement of EFAs and vitamin E is Only Natural Pet Pure Salmon Oil (Affiliate link).


Herbs can be used to cleanse the blood and detoxify the body. Very often, skin problems such as hair loss and skin irritations are the results of an accumulation of toxins in the blood. Use herbs to detoxify the body regularly and the skin problems will go away.

Herbs that are effective in detoxifying and cleansing include burdock, licorice, nettle, red clover, and sarsaparilla.

Here is an herbal blood cleansing formula that may help: Detox Gold for Dogs
(affiliate link).

If your dog has a skin problem that causes him to lose hair, try out this formula: Health Concerns Skin Balance (Affiliate link).

This excellent Chinese herbal formula works wonder on dog skin health. It moistens and nourishes the skin and helps treat skin inflammations caused by psoriasis, eczema, rosacea, hives, etc.

C.J. Puotinen, Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats (Keats Publishing, 1999).
M.L. Wulff-Tilford and G.L. Tilford, Herbs for Pets (Bowtie Press, 1999).
R.H. Pitcairn, The Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats (Rodale, 2005).

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