A small amount of hair loss in a dog is a natural occurrence and nothing to become worried about. However, if the shedding becomes worse or doesn't stop, it can raise a red flag for a pet owner. Educating yourself on the causes of a dog's hair loss will help you understand if the hair loss is normal or a need for a vet appointment.
Causes of Dog Hair Loss
Dermatitis, parasites, skin conditions and certain types of infections can all be causes of pet hair loss. The No. 1 cause of dog hair loss among most dogs is dermatitis, a skin condition most likely to occur because of allergies. This allergy can be from a variety of things such as medication, food, fleas or ticks.
Another cause of hair loss in a dog is parasites. Some parasites cause a condition known as mange, which makes a dog's hair clump up and begin to fall out, sometimes in mass quantities. Another parasite that causes hair loss is ringworm. The ringworm gets under the dog's skin, causing itching and irritation. That itching and irritation can cause the dog to itch and bite at his skin, which will in turn cause hair loss.
Various types of infections are another major cause of a dog losing its fur. Those conditions can be diagnosed by a trained veterinarian.
Assessing the Situation
When a dog is losing hair in extreme amounts that go beyond regular seasonal shedding, note whether the situation is widespread, taking over more than one area of the dog's body, or if the loss of fur is well-contained to a specific area of the dog.
A different brand of dog food can cause loss of hair due to the body not responding well to the unknown ingredients. New toys, shampoo, clothes and bedding can all be causes of pet hair loss. If these items are in question, removing them from the dog's reach and reintroducing them one by one will help rule out possible reactions.
Inspecting the Dog
Sometimes a case of hair loss can come from an invasion of fleas or ticks. Many dogs have sensitivity to the saliva in a flea bite that causes an intense itching, leaving the dog unable to ignore the bite. The dog will bite or scratch at the irritated area, causing a rash and loss of hair. Ticks can be more irritation for a dog than fleas, since the tick actually submerges its head in the dog's skin. Checking the animal regularly for these pests will help to eliminate the problem.
Visiting the Vet
The best way to know for sure what is causing your pet's hair loss is to schedule a vet appointment. The vet will examine your dog and perform tests to find the problem and work on a solution. Once he finds the culprit, the vet will explain how to care for the problem and ways to avoid a recurring pattern.