5 Reasons Your Dog’s Hair Is Falling Out


Are you concerned that your dog’s hair is falling out? Our four-legged friends bring us so much joy that we naturally want only the best for them. Taking care of our pups is a labour of love; however, it is very hard to account for every possible eventuality. Therefore, we must prepare for unforeseeable concerns. 


There are several reasons that your dog’s hair could start falling out. The reasons range from the personally manageable, like stress, allergies, and pregnancy, to more serious health problems. The latter include Cushing’s Disease, genetic issues, and parasitic infestation. Furthermore, you best not attempt a diagnosis you’s self. There are too many possible causes.


However, you must understand the issue once your pup gets a professional diagnosis. Knowing why your dog is losing hair will help you treat the condition and understand their discomfort. So, why do dogs lose hair, and what do when mean by ‘losing hair?’


The difference between losing hair and shedding 


Shedding is a natural process whereby your fur baby changes coat. It can happen seasonally, yearly, or daily. Most breeds have their unique shedding schedule; that kind of shedding is healthy and necessary. 


Losing hair (or fur) is different. Here, the hair loss does not match up with any patterned shedding. Unfortunately, the early stages of hair loss can look like shedding. Knowing when and how much your dog naturally sheds can help you catch hair loss early. 


When your pup’s shedding seems a little out of line with their natural shedding pattern, it does not mean that your dog has an underlying condition. However, it does warrant a visit to your vet. The reason that you should always take potential hair loss seriously is not that it is always a serious concern. 


Rather, it is to help catch any possibly serious conditions before they do too much damage. The severity and rate of onset of hair loss might indicate that there is greater cause for concern. But that is not definite either. You are spot on if you assume that hair loss is subjective, affecting each dog slightly differently.


The top five reasons for canine hair loss


Hair loss can result from easily treatable and relatively harmless conditions. On the other hand, hair loss could be a symptom of a far more serious underlying condition. So we mustn’t risk an incorrect diagnosis by ourselves or well-intentioned friends. The golden rule is to always consult your vet before attempting treatments. 


Ideally, it would help if you familiarise yourself with the possible causes of canine hair loss. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the time. Fortunately, VONDIs has you covered. Join us as we explore the seven most important and common reasons for canine hair loss.


1. Allergies  


Unsurprisingly, allergies are one of the more common causes of hair loss in dogs. An allergy almost always impacts the skin, whether it’s your fur baby’s skin or yours. But, unfortunately, our pups almost certainly have it worse. 


We humans do have a dense coat of fur covering our skin. A coat of fur is a defence, protecting skin from the elements, sunlight, and stings and bites from large insects. To understand how allergies lead to hair loss, we need to discuss how they work and how things tend to play out. 


How allergies can lead to severe hair loss in dogs


Those benefits come at a price, however. Fur coats can also insulate bacteria and parasites by offering the same benefits to pests as to a dog’s skin. But what does this have to do with allergies?


Some pests can cause allergic reactions, but that is not the most concerning thing about allergies. Allergies cause a natural histamine response. In turn, the immune response can cause several secondary reactions. 


One such response is inflammation. Unfortunately, an inflammation response often further exacerbates secondary symptoms such as rashes. So even if your four-legged pal does not suffer hair loss, keeping a safe and natural anti-inflammatory oil for cuts, scrapes, and infections is always wise.


These reactions commonly include hives or irritated, rash-covered skin. Worse, affected areas become very itchy. Unfortunately, it is the itching that presents the worst health risks. Hair loss and exposure to the elements are not as serious of a risk if not for the itching. 


Itching is the worst.


The problem is that itching leads to scratching and creating raw wounds. As a result, the wounds are an open door for bacteria, parasites, and other pathogens. Unfortunately, this process kicks off a cycle, which plays out as follows:


  • The infected wound causes hair loss. The hair follicles on and around the wound are damaged and can’t return to function while the body wages war against the infection. As the radius of hair loss increases, more skin gets exposed around the allergic reaction, which is infected now.
  • The itching only worsens, and your fur baby desperately scratches at it, hoping to end the discomfort. However, what transpires is the opposite; more skin gets scratched. The offending pathogen quickly seizes the opportunity.
  • The size of the infected area spreads beyond the area affected by the initial allergic response. So it has a foothold, and the spread will continue as long as the itch does. All the while, your pup loses more and more hair and gains more infected skin tissue.
  • The itch runs the show from this point on. You can see that the hair loss started as an allergic response but continued along with the spread of the infection


It is an example of a secondary infection. Here, the offending symptom starts because of one condition, allergies, in this case. Then it continues via a second condition, the infection. The symptom that drives the process, itching, is caused by both. Therefore, it continues from one to the next.


Allergy-related hair loss; the cure is worse sometimes.


The above example shows how an allergic response that causes minor hair loss can quickly escalate into a serious concern. If that happens, the infection can cause scar tissue on the skin. The scar tissue permanently prevents hair from growing back on the affected area. 


If your dog is scratching at the same spot for any duration or does it repeatedly, you should stop the itch immediately. There are chemical options, but considering there may be open wounds, it is important not to irritate the skin further. 


An all-natural, effective treatment suppresses the itch by introducing dangerous chemicals to an open wound. Such chemicals would get absorbed into the capillary arteries and your pup’s bloodstream. 


Therefore, you want your chosen treatment to work and be so safe that your dog can consume it without risks.


2. Cushing’s disease 


Hyperadrenocorticism, fortunately also called Cushing’s disease– or syndrome. Cushing’s disease results from a tumor that makes the body overproduce cortisol. 


Cortisol is a hormone. However, it is unique in a specific, dangerous way; Cortisol single handedly counteracts every other kind of hormone in the body. 


Hormonal problems


Do you need to counteract adrenalin? Cortisol will do the trick. Perhaps you need to lower insulin levels. Cortisol is just the thing. It is an antagonist to all hormones. Here is a short list of some of the important hormones that are affected in dogs with Cushing’s disease:



Keep in mind that this is only a list of the hormones produced in the hypothalamus. Your furry friends have different organs that produce various hormones throughout their bodies. Cushing’s disease is more common in dogs upwards of six years old. 


The disease doesn’t cascade the same way we find when allergies start a hair loss cycle, which then spreads thanks to an infection. Instead, your vet can guide you in offering a dog with Cushing’s disease the best quality of life while receiving treatment. For example, a dog with Cushing’s requires a healthy diet with little risk of triggering an allergic reaction.


The only ‘cure’ for Cushing’s disease is completely removing the tumor that causes it. However, the procedure is so complex and prone to complications that most cases get treated with medicine. Unfortunately, the medication is not guaranteed to restore lost hair or prevent further hair loss.


3. Genetic disorders


Genetic science is an immensely complex field. For us laypeople, the scope of genetics is too much to take in at once. Fortunately, and perhaps surprisingly, genetic hair loss is straightforward.


Your little snookums’ ancestors were wolves; kind of…


It is a common misconception, the idea that modern wolves are the ancestors of dogs. For one, modern wolves have changed since the early days of canine domestication; not that the change is less pronounced.


However, if you traced a line through your pup’s lineage back to tens of thousands of years ago, that line intersects with the lineage of the wolves we know today. So, how did we get where we are today, where wolf packs stalk the wilds and chihuahuas travel around LA in expensive bags? 


We deliberately bred for traits and features.


Today the American Kennel Club officially recognises 200 distinct dog breeds. Of course, that number does not include the hundreds, if not thousands, of types of mixed— and other unrecognised breeds. But, again, tracing their lineages will show that all modern dogs descend from an overlapping, single canine breed.


What does this have to do with hair loss?


Those traits that differentiate breeds from each other were not present in the original ancestor canid. They developed over time. They also developed at an accelerated pace. That is because our ancestors became those proto-dogs’ survival tactics. It wasn’t long until our ancestors realised that these dogs were useful. 


From then on, a mix of selective breeding and random genetic errors blossomed into a new dog breed. From that branch spread two new branches. The process continued, and now we have best friends that come in more distinct breeds than any other subspecies of animals on earth. 


Just like fluffy tails, hair loss can result from breeding.


The process of breeding all these different kinds of canine companions was never going to be perfect. But, in nature, selection drives the adaptations passed from one generation of animals to the next.


Unlike the pragmatism of nature, we don’t care if a pug’s nose is too short for it to breathe in any practical sense because it’s cute. Unfortunately, it is much easier for genetic errors to survive and infiltrate the gene pool without the pressures of natural selection.


It didn’t bother our ancestors.


At some point in the history of dog breeding, a dog with a random genetic modification entered the world. In nature, this dog would likely never have seen adulthood. Why? Because this little guy’s genetic modification, or mutation, results in a loss of fur over some areas of their body.


The pup was at high risk of lethal parasitic infections, and even a playful bite from a sibling would break the skin without a coat to protect it. They were vulnerable to so many deadly pathogens, parasites, and wounds. Too much to survive natural selection.


Fortunately, the scruffy pup was at the mercy of a human. The hair loss didn’t bother this human; after all, the dog still made for a good shepherd. 


This new way of surviving meant that these genetic setbacks were only rooted out of the gene pool if they interfered with what humans wanted.


Is there a cure?


Unfortunately not. Genetic diseases are baked into DNA, the blueprint of our and our pups’ bodies. So while one expects genetic screening when one buys purebreds, most owners adopt, and it’s not a dealbreaker.


Furthermore, even though one can’t cure genetic hair loss, there are precautions you can take to keep your balding buddy safe from risks related to the condition:


  • Keep your pup out of the sun. Depending on the coat length before hair loss, your pup’s skin should not get exposed to direct sunlight. A fluffy coat keeps direct rays from reaching the skin. 


If you must take your pup out in sunny weather, use a natural, high SPF sunscreen to keep their exposed skin safe from the worst of the UV radiation.


  • You have to take extra precautions and apply extra care. The first thing you need is a quality omega-3 oil. Omega-3 combats inflammation naturally. We must keep in mind that inflammation is an important immune response. 


The problem is chronic inflammation and the potential damage to a dog with already sensitive, exposed skin. That is where omega-3 can make all the difference.


  • Another important consideration is soap. Chemical soap is bad for skin, but even more so for a dog suffering genetic hair loss. It would help if you only used all-natural antibacterial soaps to wash the skin in affected areas.


4. Parasites


Every pet parent knows the feeling of outrage when their fur baby falls victim to an infestation of fleas. The idea that gross little mites invade your pup’s healthy coat is enough to make one scream. But, as though that weren’t enough, parasites like fleas are challenging to address. 


A bad case of fleas, for example, leads to skin irritation. Your four-legged friend won’t know whether to scratch at the fleas or the itchy skin they bring. But, after the first scratch, we know where things lead. As with allergic reactions, scratching at the fleas and irritated skin leads to infection, which spreads as the scratching continues to damage the surrounding skin. 


Fleas and poisons


Unfortunately, the standard treatment contains the active ingredient called Permethrin. Few may contain other chemicals with similar action, but it changes nothing. Instead, the chemicals work by shutting down the fleas’ nervous system.


That sounds fine, though, I mean, they are parasites, and it’s not as though chemicals that attach to a bug’s nervous system pose a risk to mammals, right? Well, no, these chemicals do. They enter your dog’s bloodstream via capillaries and travel to the brain, where they cause measurable neurological damage.


These pharmaceuticals are a no-go. But what do you do to get rid of fleas without giving your fur baby irreparable brain damage? Get your hands on Khakibos-based flea repellant spray as the first line of defence. 


A Khakibos extract shampoo is great for long hair dogs that need weekly bathing. On the other hand, some short hair breeds barely need bathing at all. They need a Khakibos powder. It’s

easy to apply and perfect for short hairs.


Mites, inflammation, and oily skin


Many skin conditions leave a dog’s skin dry and visibly irritated. Mites damage your pup’s skin and cause oiliness instead. 


That is one of the easiest ways to identify these mini arachnids. Unlike their shier spider cousins, mites seek to attach to a host and feed off their skin.


The main symptoms to look out for:


  • Hair loss around the mouth, eyes, ears, and other extremities.
  • Inflammation is common where mites take up residence.
  • Your pup’s skin can appear thick, almost leathery.
  • The affected skin is oily.
  • The area is extremely itchy, as with most skin conditions that cause hair loss.


If you suspect that your dog has mites, consult your vet. They will likely prescribe anti-fungal medication for any secondary infections and topical or oral medication to eliminate the mites.


Ringworms, a parasite that causes certain hair loss


Ringworm is the cause of very unpleasant, itchy lesions. While they often present as circular, they are sometimes irregularly shaped. When humans get ringworms, it is pretty easy to identify the lesions. However, they aren’t as apparent on dogs, especially if your pup has a dark coat.


Hair loss patterns


Ringworm causes hair loss on the lesion. Therefore, the affected area is a distinct, somewhat circular shape. 


Although ringworm can clear up without treatment, it can also spread rapidly and worsen the longer it’s left untreated. The best thing to do is to consult your vet. They will prescribe an anti-fungal cream. 


While ringworm clears easily given the right medication, it can still spread if one isn’t careful. The problem is not so much the cure. Rather, it is one of containing the spread for long enough to get rid of all the lesions.


Things to keep in mind if your dog has ringworm:


  • You will need to shave the affected areas. However, if your veterinarian feels the problem is too widespread, you must shave your dog completely.
  • Ringworm is a zoonotic disease. That means it can spread between species. So if your dog has ringworms, there is a chance it’s spread to other family members already.
  • A ringworm is not a worm. There are no worms— or wormlike creatures involved. Ringworms are fungal infections and get treated with anti-fungal medication, not deworming treatments.


5. Psychological and environmental causes 


We know stress is dangerous to our health and can manifest as physical health conditions that range from discomfort to death. However, the scientific data is still unclear on just how serious the physical effects of stress are on our dogs’ bodies. 


What we know so far:


  • Stress contributes to a higher risk of heart disease in dogs and humans.
  • It need not have an objective, reasonable cause. All stress is equally legitimate.
  • Dogs appear more sensitive to physical illness caused by stress than most other animals.
  • A dog is more likely to suffer chronic stress if their primary caregiver does.
  • Most dogs respond to stress in ways that lead to them suffering more stress (destroying furniture to try and release the tension they feel, only to get yelled at by their owner and get left feeling even more stressed.
  • The most common form of stress that dogs experience is separation anxiety. However, the statistic does not consider global animal abuse and PTSD cases.
  • Stress can cause dogs to behave more aggressively than they normally would.
  • The physiological effect of stress on dogs includes spontaneous shedding/hair loss, sores or lesions from excessive grooming, and potentially dangerous weight loss.


It’s a little complicated.


One of the most challenging things about addressing stress, especially with dogs, is that there is no line of concise communication. That means your dog can continue suffering from severe anxiety, even when the physical cause is fixed or removed. 


Consider separation anxiety as an example. Separation anxiety commonly occurs in companion breeds that spend much time separated from their owners. The early warning signs include:


  1. Hysterical behaviour like barking and yelping when a dog senses their owner is about to leave home. Triggers include the owner putting on shoes, the sound of keys as they get picked up, and approaching or unlocking one’s car.
  2. The dog displays an equally frantic reception when the owner returns. These severe onset responses of hysteria can include losing bladder control and physical convulsions.
  3. They engage in destructive behaviour in their owner’s absence. 


The real challenge in addressing stress-related hair loss in dogs


Say that the dog in question’s owner retires or starts working from home. The separation anxiety should clear up in no time, right? The overarching cause for the pup’s distress has stopped. Their owner doesn’t have to leave without them and stay away for the whole day. 


Unfortunately, that is not what usually happens. The dog usually does not behave differently because the owner is home now. Instead, they continue to react to the same triggers as before. For example, if their owner puts on shoes, they still go ballistic. 


It is a behaviour that helps explain why, in most cases, the hair loss continues well after the source of the stress gets addressed. For example, a dog suffering from separation anxiety still gets triggered even when their owner doesn’t leave after said trigger anymore. The behavioural response continues. 


However, it is not only the behaviour that persists. Physiological responses, such as losing bladder control, continue too. 


It’s not just the source of the stress; it’s the behavioural pattern surrounding it.


The behaviours caused by stress and physiological responses, like hair loss, remain. It is safe to say that when the anxiety happens, the pup in question has no conscious control over these reactions. We know that internal processes accompany external behaviours. 


What can one do to help your pup?


This disconnect between the onset of stress and the correlating circumstances makes the situation look pretty bleak. There is no way to communicate the nuances of things effectively. You can’t verbally tell your dog that the situation gets resolved, and even though some actions seem familiar, everything is better now. 


Fortunately, things are not quite as bleak as they seem. But, it’s all there, in the word ‘familiar.’ Most professional dog trainers will tell you that the ‘cure’ is not a pill. It’s a plan.  


It’s also a habit


When one thinks about it, that’s what many forms of canine stress are. They are a trigger that evokes a particular trauma. Once triggered, a dog will resort to the behaviour they associate with the trigger event. 


In many cases, that habit is panic. Then the stress can come flooding in without warning, and rather than experience a new existential crisis, your pup is engaging in an old one, whether it’s happening or not.


Where else do we see this behaviour in dogs?


Strays commonly experience PTSD. Often, they got abused in their original home environment. But, even if that is not the case, living on the streets gives a dog more than enough opportunity to develop chronic PTSD. 


Yet, the number of rescues successfully rehabilitated when adopted is moderate to high. Of course, it is not to take anything away from people who adopt pets and give them a new home and lease on life. But, it seems that adapting to a new routine helps in healing canine stress disorders and symptoms such as the associated hair loss.


The best solution we have


It would be impractical to sell your house and move to address your fur baby’s anxiety and stress. The good news is that you do not have to. The emphasis on the efficacy of building a new routine lay mainly with the ‘routine’ aspect. 


Consult a professional and accredited dog trainer or behavioural expert to help you develop a new daily routine that will change how your dog experiences day-to-day life and the triggers that upset them in the past.


In closing


There are many reasons why your dog might begin losing fur. However, canine hair loss is almost exclusively a symptom of an underlying health concern. Therefore, the most important thing is getting a diagnosis from a trusted vet before attempting to address the problem.


Remember that your pup’s skin is, in some ways, more sensitive than human skin. Stick to natural products and avoid standard flea medication and treatments completely. Above all, remember that our fur babies don’t know how to tell us when they feel bad. They may need extra patience if they suffer from one of the above conditions.