Fur stuck to clothes, furniture, and blankets is a common aspect of pet ownership, but if your four-legged friend’s hair loss becomes excessive, you may become concerned. Our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Wallisville team shares common problems that can cause pets to experience hair loss, and describes what you can do about your four-legged friend’s condition.

Problem: Pets shed 

Although you may be alarmed when fur tufts waft from your four-legged friend, shedding is a natural process. Cats and dogs lose dead or damaged fur as part of the normal hair growth cycle, and shedding helps make way for new, healthy fur to grow. While you may be concerned that your pet is losing a ton of hair, if they do not have bald spots, their shedding is likely normal. However, if your pet’s shedding becomes significant enough to cause patchy hair loss, schedule a veterinary exam to determine if they have an underlying health issue.

Solution: Regularly brushing and grooming your pet helps remove loose, dead fur and disperse natural skin oils, keeping their coat lush and vibrant. A strong, healthy fur coat and skin layer minimizes shedding and flaky skin. Feeding your pet a nutritionally balanced, high-quality diet also promotes skin and coat health, reducing shedding.

Problem: Unwanted guests on your pet

If your pet is infested with tiny, external parasites, such as fleas, ticks, and mange mites, they can experience intense itching, and may create bald patches through their excessive licking, chewing, and scratching. Depending on the parasite causing their itchiness, your pet may develop localized or generalized irritation, inflammation, and hair loss. For example, pets with flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) typically have hair loss that begins at the middle of their back and progresses toward their hind end, causing baldness on the tail and hind legs.

Solution: Administering a year-round flea and tick preventive to your furry pal will tackle these blood-sucking pests. Topical solutions, collars, or oral chews or tablets can protect your pet from external parasites, heartworm disease, and intestinal worms, so weigh your options, and choose a product that works best for your pet’s needs. 

By checking your pet for fleas and ticks after they have been outdoors, you can spot these parasites before they feed on your furry pal. In addition, by making your yard inhospitable to parasites, you reduce your pet’s infectious disease risk, so mow your yard short, remove leaf litter and debris, and keep bushes and shrubs trimmed.

Problem: Your pet’s itch factor

Allergies are the main reasons for pets’ itchiness, and as they chew, lick, and scratch, they can cause massive amounts of hair loss. Your pet may have an allergy, categorized as being environmental, flea, or food. Or, your pet may have allergies to multiple triggers. Hair loss confined to your pet’s hind end indicates they are suffering from a flea allergy, while hair loss on their paws and ears is most likely indicative of food allergies. Pets with environmental allergies, especially inhaled allergens such as pollen, mold, and dust, can experience generalized irritation and inflammation throughout their entire body, leading to overall hair loss.

Solution: Allergy management can be tricky, especially if your pet has multiple allergies. Fortunately, a multitude of highly effective therapies can keep your pet’s itching under control and prevent hair loss. Depending on the type of allergy your pet has, our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Wallisville team may recommend:

  • Antihistamines
  • Corticosteroids
  • Parasite prevention
  • Anti-itch medications (e.g., Apoquel, Cytopoint)
  • Skin supplements
  • Medicated shampoos 
  • Medicated ear cleansers and ointments
  • Antimicrobials
  • Prescription food
  • Immunotherapy

Problem: Hormonal conditions in pets

Hormones influence more than a pet’s mating behavior. Hormones play a role in virtually every bodily function in a series of feedback loops, and when those mechanisms are unbalanced, hair loss can result. Hormonal diseases that can cause hair loss in dogs include Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism. Cushing’s disease has also been diagnosed in cats. A pet with a hormonal imbalance can have flaky skin, a rough hair coat, patchy or thinning fur, and chronic skin infections.

Solution: Medications are available that will help regulate your pet’s thyroid or cortisol hormone levels. To ensure effective disease management, our veterinary team will regularly monitor your pet. 

Although shedding is normal for pets, excessive hair loss or patchy shedding can indicate an underlying health issue. If your four-legged friend’s fur coat appears moth-eaten and dull, schedule an appointment with your southeast Texas veterinarian at Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Wallisville.