Dog Hair Loss

by Amy

I have an 11 year old Chihuahua. He is losing dog hair in patches. You can look at him and it looks like his fur is sticking up. When you barely pull on the hair it will fall out and have a scab on the end of the fur. It leaves a complete bald spot.

We have taken him to the vet several times and he has been treated with antibiotics for a bacterial infection. The antibiotics work for about 2-4 weeks and than it comes back. What else can be done to help him?

Dog Health Guide Editor Suggestion - Dog Hair Loss

Dear Amy,

Thank you for your question regarding dog hair loss.

Dogs, especially older dogs like this one, can face several primary (originates on the skin) and/or secondary skin conditions (caused by another problem), which not only involves the skin, but also other systems in the body.

Though, it is not possible to confirm the condition without a detailed clinical examination and laboratory tests, according to the pattern of disease and symptoms you described, we can help you get an idea of what a diagnosis might be, for further discussion with your veterinarian.

First of all, symptoms such as dog hair loss, weakened hair follicles and scabs at the hair base indicates that your dog has got problem with sebaceous gland and hair follicular health. It is a common problem with older dogs. Possible causes include allergy, infection or an endocrinal (hormone) disorder.

However, you can eliminate the possibilities with additional observation. For example, observe the oiliness of the skin, any
unusual eating and drinking habits (thirst, appetite, weight change), pus under the scab or at the base of the hair, itching (pruritus), diet etc.

You have not mentioned signs such as itching or pruritus, which usually is a primary sign. Since these symptoms are absent, then it is possible that your this senior dog is most likely suffering from an endocrine problem and/or other systemic disease.

Regarding the treatment with antibiotics, remember, older dogs have a weakened physiology and are more prone to secondary infections, such as skin infections in this case, which responded well to antibiotics. But, if the condition recurs, it indicates some type of an underlying cause, which requires a detailed clinical examination along with laboratory tests, and skin scrapings. This is then followed by systemic tests.

We suggest you take your dog for a detailed examination and laboratory tests, preferably done by a veterinary endocrinologist and/or a dermatologist (in collaboration), so that the underlying cause can be identified and treated specifically. Remember, treating a dog with antibiotics without any confirmation of the underlying cause of the problem, can resolve symptoms, but not the exact problem.

Here are some suggestions that might help in the mean time. Try to use a quality shampoo like Nutri-Vet Medicated Antibacterial Shampoo which is formulated to reduce dog skin oiliness or seborrhea. You can also try some natural remedies to improve skin condition such as Skin and Coat Tonic and Immunity and Liver Support to improve the overall immune system health of your older dog.

Please keep us up to date on the dog hair loss problem.

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Dry Dog Skin with Hair Loss

by Chihuaha Mom
(Toronto, Canada)

I have a six month old Chihuahua that is otherwise healthy. She has an area on her right side that is unevenly raised, only noticeable when she stands on her hind legs. Beside that area is now a patch of really dry skin, no redness, that she never scratches at and has now lost the hair in that area.

She also has 2 really small dots on her head that look pretty much the same but again she doesn't itch at it. I feed her Royal Canine Chihuahua hard food all of the time as well as Naturo soft food once in a while. Up to about a month ago she liked to eat toilet paper whenever she got at a roll as well as her puppy pads. If she has a chance before I get to it she also tries to eat her poo.

She has all of her shots and spends most(99.5%) of her time indoors as it is very cold outside and she gets lost in the snow.

Any suggestions of what may be wrong would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Chihuahua mom

Editor Comment

Dear Chihuahua mom,

Unfortunately, I can’t really diagnose your dog without seeing her, but based on her age, lifestyle and your description of her skin problems, I would certainly want to get her tested for demodectic mange.

Your vet can do this by lightly scraping her skin in the affected areas and then looking at the material underneath the microscope. Demodectic mange can usually (but not always) be diagnosed with this simple test.

If your Chihuahua does have demodectic mange, your vet can recommend the correct form of treatment based on the severity of her symptoms.

Therapy can include antibiotics, creams, medicated dips, and drugs that kill the mange mites.


Jennifer Coates, DVM

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Dog Hair Loss with Skin Itch and Scabs

by John

Dog Hair Loss with Skin Itch and Scabs

Dog Hair Loss with Skin Itch and Scabs

I have a German Shorthair Pointer. He is 15. In the last year he has developed a skin problem. He itches all the time. I took him to the vet after about 6 months. She ran skin tests for mange, parasites, fleas etc.. Nothing.

I concluded it was an allergy and that because he started itching in the winter it might be food related instead of environmental. I switched his food a number of times and the problem has only worsened.

He has lost a lot of hair, and has coarse scales on his back. He gnaws at spots sometimes until it bleeds. He smells like cheese. The Vet prescribed prednisone which worked but was for temporary relief. I've tried benadryl, fish oil and switching his food. Not sure what to do. I've read stuff that describes zinc and vitamin A deficiencies, hormonal issues, immune system problems but I'm completely lost.

Editor Suggestion Dog Hair Loss with Skin Itch and ScabsDog

Hi John,

Allergies are certainly a possibility in your dog, particularly since his condition got better while he was on the prednisone. Diagnosing a food allergy is not easy, as you have seen. Simply switching foods is not enough. You need to feed him a food that has protein and carbohydrate sources that are completely new to him (e.g., duck and potato) or have been broken down in a certain way to make them less allergenic.

This food trial needs to go on for two or three months, during which time he eats absolutely nothing other than the prescribed food and water. That said, I don’t think you can rule out environmental allergens such as dust mites, pollen, or mold either simply based on the fact that your dog’s skin problems developed in the winter.

Allergies aren’t the only diagnosis I would consider here. One thing that comes to mind, in addition to the conditions that you mentioned, is a type of skin cancer called mycosis fungoides. It will respond temporarily to prednisone and can cause many of the symptoms that your dog has.
If your dog has not already had a skin biopsy, I think that may be the next course of action.

Talk to your veterinarian about the fact that his condition is getting worse. If you are not happy with the care that he is receiving, see another doctor for a second opinion. Making an appointment with a veterinary dermatologist may be the quickest way to get the answers that you are looking for.

Good luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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Puppy Hair Loss and Rash

by Nix Co
(Baguio, Philippines)

Puppy Hair Loss and Rash

Puppy Hair Loss and Rash

Puppy Hair Loss and Rash
Puppy Hair Loss and Rash on Leg
Puppy Hair Loss and Rash

Recently I went for a vacation and left my puppy (rottweiler) with my friend. When I returned home after two weeks, I was just shocked by how my puppy looked... she was suffering from hair loss on both sides of her belly as well as the areas close to her eyes and ears.

She kept on itching. Her belly was red all over with little bulges on it and also there were rashes on some parts of her skin. An example of that is an area on her legs, and also there were little wounds on the parts where the hair is gone.

I'm a little frustrated because I don't know what to do since there are no vets in my area, what should I do? Are there any home remedies you might suggest?

Vet Suggestion Puppy Hair Loss and Skin Rash


Based on your description and your puppy’s age, I am concerned that she could have either demodectic or sarcoptic mange, but, of course, I can’t diagnose your dog without seeing her and there are a number of other diseases that can look a lot like this.

It sounds like her condition is bad enough that you really should get her in to a vet even if it is inconvenient. I’m afraid that she might get significantly sicker if you don’t get a definitive diagnosis and aggressive treatment soon.

If she has demodectic mange, she will probably need oral antibiotics and maybe topical or systemic medications to help control the mites. Sarcoptic mange can be eliminated with dips or medications to kill the mites, but this is all best done under the supervision of a veterinarian.

Good luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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