HELP! My Dog is Going Bald!
Put away the Rogaine people, it won't help your dog re-grow his hair nor is it safe for your dog in the first place! Yes, it is true, some dogs do in fact, go bald. Dogs with short hair such as Dachshunds and Beagles often develop symmetrical, thinning hair patterns on their ears, around the eyes, on the chest, the trunk of the body and unfortunately, around the rear-end. It is important to note that doggy hair loss is not normal and is a symptom that something is not right. To be on the safe side, make an appointment and take your dog to the veterinarian.
Once your dog loses his hair (due to disease) it is not likely to grow back as the hair follicles have more than likely disappeared! Hair loss on the trunk of a dog's body is often accompanied by bumps, blackheads, flaking and other skin irritations. This can be a sign of Cushing's disease or hypothyroidism so again, if you notice hair loss on your dog's body…take him to the vet!
There are also immune-mediated skin diseases that actually target a dog's hair follicles. Dogs that develop immune-mediated skin diseases often lose their hair in patches. It is interesting to note that some dog's that have multi-colored hair will lose only one particular color. When this happens, it is called alopecia areta. This condition can be diagnosed by performing a skin biopsy and can be treated with corticosteroid injections.
Always a GOOD idea to have a dog health care book at home!
Cushing's Disease, also known as hyperadrenocorticism , develops when a dog's adrenal glands produce too much cortisol. Unfortunately, this condition is very common in older (and over-weight) dogs, however it can be treated! Older canines tend to develop this disease because of a small tumor that develops on the pituitary or adrenal glands. The pituitary gland is responsible for a dog's bodily growth, among other things. When a tumor develops on the pituitary gland this will most likely wreak havoc on your dog's body causing it to enlarge (dogs with Cushing's often appear bloated). Unfortunately, certain dog breeds are more likely to develop Cushing's than others. These breeds include Dachshunds, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Beagles, Poodles, Boxers and most Terriers.
Signs of Cushing's Disease
- Hair loss on both sides of the body
- Weakening of the legs which can lead to mobility issues
- Excessive drinking of water
- Weight gain
- Increased appetite
- Urinating more than usual (due to excessive drinking)
- Pot-Bellied appearance
If your dog develops Cushing's disease, your veterinarian will choose a treatment program depending on the type of Cushing's that your dog has (adrenal versus pituitary gland). Most likely, your dog will need supportive medications and treatments in order to live a comfortable and normal life. Long term prognosis depends on the over-all health and condition of your dog so it is very important that you develop healthy habits early in life in order to avoid complications later!
Dogs lose their hair for a variety of reason. If your dog begins to lose hair (and it is not normal shedding) take him to the vet. Other reasons for hair loss may include nutritional deficiency, seborrhea (which is similar to dandruff in humans) and hormone problems. Many skin issues that cause hair loss can be treated with simple, medicated baths while others may require more extreme treatments. No matter what condition you (and your dog) are dealing with…remember, bald is beautiful! Good luck and here's to beautiful, silky hair! Woof!