I’ve noticed that my dog has hair loss on his sides and a few spots that look like scabs. What can be causing this, and how can I help him? I want to make sure he’s healthy and comfortable.
Understanding Hair Loss and Skin Issues in Pets
Hair loss and skin issues in pets can stem from a variety of causes, and sometimes, more than one factor is involved. It’s crucial to have your pet examined by a veterinarian to determine if there’s a medical cause for their skin problems and recommend appropriate treatment (1).
Common Causes of Hair Loss and Skin Irritation
Both dogs and cats can experience hair loss and skin issues due to different factors. In young dogs, a skin infection called ‘puppy pyoderma’ may be the culprit. This typically occurs on the belly and inside the hind legs and generally resolves itself as the dog matures (2).
For pets of all ages, fleas, food allergies, and exposure to chemical irritants such as cleaners and soaps can also cause skin problems. Identifying the specific cause and eliminating it is the best course of action. For example, if your pet is sensitive to flea bites, a single bite can cause them to scratch enough to tear their skin. In cases like these, a mange treatment may be necessary.
Sometimes, using plastic bowls can result in hair loss, particularly on the chin, where the pet’s skin comes into contact with the bowl while eating. If you suspect that this may be the cause, consider switching to glass, metal, or ceramic bowls (3).
Food allergies are another possible reason for your pet’s hair loss and skin irritation. These allergies are often caused by sensitivity to a specific protein in the pet’s food. In addition to consulting your veterinarian, you might want to explore the possibility of your pet having an allergy and consider changing their diet accordingly. Some non-prescription options, like Hill’s Science Diet, offer food for sensitive skin, while others, like Royal Canin, carry limited protein diets that may also provide relief. Your veterinarian can recommend a specific diet that will help your pet’s unique needs (4).
Next Steps for Your Pet’s Skin Health
If you’re concerned about your pet’s hair loss and skin issues, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian and explore the potential causes. In addition to examining your pet, your vet may recommend treatments or preventative measures to keep your pet’s skin healthy. Some of these may include:
- Consulting articles about hair loss in dogs and hair loss in cats to familiarize yourself with potential causes and treatments
- Regular flea treatments to prevent flea-related skin issues
- Adjusting your pet’s diet if they are suffering from food allergies
- Switching to hypoallergenic and natural cleaning products to minimize the risk of skin irritation
By taking the time to understand the causes of your pet’s skin problems and consulting with your veterinarian, you can help to ensure that your pet remains healthy, comfortable, and free from hair loss and skin irritation.