Hair loss around eyes in dogs

Updated April 17, 2017

When you look into the face of your dog, one of the last things you want to see is hair loss. Some dogs will experience hair loss around or underneath their eyes typically as a result of demodectic mange. While hair loss can occur anywhere on a dog that has mange, it usually appears under the eyes. In fact, mange is usually on the top of the list as potential causes when a dog has hair loss around the eyes. As only a veterinarian can prescribe the treatment that eliminates mange, you must take your dog for an examination as soon as the symptom appears.

The Facts

Most dogs have the demodectic mites, Demodex canis or Demodex injai, living on their skin. Many dogs never experience a problem with the mites; however, some do. Puppies and dogs that have suppressed or inadequate immune systems are typically those that have these negative reactions to the mites and experience mange, states Older dogs that experience demodectic mange should have tests performed to look for diseases that affect the immune system, such as Cushing's disease, cancer, heartworms and hypothyroidism.


As stated before, if a dog has hair loss around its eyes, it is usually always a sign of demodectic mange. In addition, dogs with mange can experience hair loss on the muzzle and other areas of the head that may spread throughout the body. Crusty skin that is red and sometimes moist or greasy in appearance is also common in dogs with mange. If the mange is localised, the dog will only present five lesions or fewer. If the mange is generalised, the symptoms will appear all over the body.


A veterinarian will diagnose demodectic mange based on his findings from a skin scraping or biopsy. The doctor typically scrapes the dog's skin with a blade and views his findings under a microscope. The mites are small and are alligator-like in their shape. However, because the mites are present in just about every dog, the dog also needs to present skin lesions in order to receive a diagnosis of mange.


Localised mange, which occurs in about 90 per cent of demodectic mange cases, according to, is usually resolved with lotions and shampoos. A 1-percent rotenone ointment or a 5-percent benzoyl peroxide gel is effective against demodectic mange when applied daily. If the mange is generalised, more aggressive treatment is required. The vet may prescribe dips that need to be administered 4 to 14 times at two-week intervals. In addition, ivermectic and milbemycin are also effective against demodectic mange.


Most dogs do well after receiving treatment for demodectic mange. However, if the dog suffers from a compromised immune system that is not corrected, the mange could continue to come back. Similarly, because the immune system does not fully mature until a puppy is about 12 to 18 months, the mange may continue to relapse until the immune system is completely developed, states

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