Wednesday, 11 May 2011

My Dog Is Losing Hair Is It Flea Allergies or Mange?

Is your dog losing his or her hair? Do you notice patches of scaly skin with loss of hair growth in the area? Or does your dog scratch or lick incessantly around the paws, legs or chew at the base of the tail?

Flea allergies or Mange can be a major cause of hair loss in your pet but it could be caused by other health related issues such as hyperthyroidism or food allergies.

Although shedding in your dog is normal and happens throughout the year, areas with no hair or oozing bald spots is not normal and is usually related to an underlying cause. Tufts of hair on long hair breeds can look unsightly and without proper grooming and assistance with removing thickly matted hair, your dog could end up with terrible sores as the matted hair begins to entwine on itself and pull at your dogs skin causing extreme discomfort.

Other reasons for loss of hair are as follows:
Flea Allergy

A single bite from a flea can give some dogs an allergic reaction. Incessant chewing and scratching are a sure sign your dog is suffering from an infestation of fleas. Most chewing is located around the base of the tail with scratching at neck or chest area as another indicator there is a problem. Keep your pet free of fleas through topical treatments which work quite well, and provide regular flea baths for removing and killing fleas along with their larvae. Even if your home is free of them, remember, taking your dog to the beach is an excellent place to pick up more and carry them home. Before you know it you have fleas taking up residence in your house.

Hot Spots

This is an area of skin that becomes bald rather quickly from your dog licking their skin incessantly. The area will begin to ooze, appear raw and can have scabs form giving a scaly appearance. In most cases it occurs from irritation from flea bites, but can also be from an insect bite, boredom, or food allergy can stimulate this irritation from within the body attacking the animals immune system. Treatment is usually topical but can sometimes involve the use of steroids temporarily along with a doggie collar to keep them from licking themselves into a nasty infection.

Allergies

3 types of allergies can occur with your pet: one is airborne allergies with your dog inhaling the offending pollen which causes itching and licking of skin resulting in more hot spots or 2ndly, food allergies which also attacks the dog from the inside out and will manifest itself within your pet, showing outwardly in loss of hair and skin inflammations. 3rdly, contact allergens can occur from coming in contact with grass, pollens, certain fabrics, detergents, pet shampoos and on an on. The list can be endless and can take a long time to locate the offending item causing contact dermatitis which leads to extreme distress for the dog through a constant irritation to the skin. Usually once the offending item or ingredient is removed, the animal will recover, however supportive treatment with topical or oral medication may be required.

Hyperthyroidism

Although this is typically less likely to occur than the other problems stated above, it is still something to investigate if the other causes turn up nothing or are inconclusive. Hyperthyroidism is typically combined with hair loss, dry scaly patches and the animal begins to gain weight and becomes lethargic. Blood tests can be performed to determine if your dog will require any medication to correct the problem.

Mange

This is the last and more rare condition which could be an underlying cause to your dogs extreme hair loss or itching skin. There are two types of mange and are difficult to diagnose without veterinarian assistance. Things to look for when it comes to mange:

Demodectic mange is a mite that lives on the skin of all dogs and usually doesn't cause a problem unless environmental issues cause it to get out of control. It does not typically cause itching in your dog and is typically seen in puppies, young adults which might have an underlying illness, or dogs undergoing bouts of extreme stress. Hair loss is also moderate, usually confined around the eyes and areas of the face. This is a mange that can resolve itself as the puppy matures or the dog becomes well again and all stressful situations are removed. Diagnosis from a Vet is wise to make sure it isn't something just starting and you have simply caught it early. Earlier the better!

Sarcoptic mange or Scabies by another name is a mite that burrows into the dogs skin and is a more insidious parasite causing intense itching and severe hair loss covering the entire body if left untreated. Once it has progressed to total hair loss, the animal is debilitated, usually in considerable pain and discomfort and for severe cases, may need to ultimately be euthanized. It is highly contagious to other dogs that come in contact with him or her including human contact. Medical treatment is required to cure the affliction. For people treatment is usually provided with the use of topical ointments and cleansers in a bath to kill the mite. Cure time can be lengthy so be very careful when handling a dog with extreme hair loss until a diagnosis is reached to avoid cross contamination.

Stress Factors

This can be any number of triggers causing your dog to scratch, lick or chew areas of the body from things like separation anxiety, psychological factors of hidden dangers causing undue fear or paranoia, poor diets and boredom from lack of interaction or exercise. Including good exercise, an excellent diet and training to incorporate not only obedience, but perhaps behavior modification which will require an experts help. Make sure you find a good one and always check references. There are also great books written by those with a following such as the Dog Whisperer which offers excellent advice on identifying stress factors and how to deal with them.

While your dog is under treatment, it may require a long coarse of drugs, behavioral training, proper diet along with a proper diagnosis. Remove the underlying cause and protect your dog from them digging at their skin while the body heals and your dog will regrow hair back in no time. Be vigilant when you see any skin changes and don't waste time researching the cause. This will prevent further inflammation, hair loss and discomfort for your dog before you have to deal with complete hair loss or skin infections requiring longer healing time.


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