Alopecia. What is it? What causes it? And how can you treat it?

Here you'll find a run down of the key facts about alopecia, what it is and how you can best take care of your cat or dog suffering from this disease!

What is alopecia?

Some breeds are more likely to have alopecia: labradors, golden retrievers, West Highland white terriers, and Shar-Peis, among others.

The word alopecia designates hair loss. This means that within certain zones on an animal's skin, hair falls out at a rate that leaves the skin exposed. The term is very general so we will break it down for you!

What are the causes of alopecia?

At first, hair loss may be due to natural moulting! Twice a year, our pets go through a period of moulting that corresponds to the changing of the seasons. In the summer, for example, Huskies can lose up to 60% of their fur. In order to learn more about moulting, you can read this article for dogs and this article for cats.

However, if there is heavy hair loss, this should alert you to a problem. If this hair loss is not localised to one area or due to bites, this may be because of an unbalanced diet. In this case, talk to your vet about how to improve your dog's nutritional intake.

In 80% of cases, hair loss is associated with insect stings and an allergy to flea bites. In this case you can treat your pet against fleas and the consequences thereof.

However, some environmental causes may be at the source of allergic reactions. These can cause hair loss and inflammation. Other allergic reactions can be from food, the immune system, or cancer. Whatever the case, your vet will be able to determine the cause. They will then put in place a tailored treatment program.

Alternatively, your dog may have behavioural issues and lick one spot excessively, causing the hair to fall out. This happens often in causes of trauma. In this case a consultation is needed in order to find the cause and put in place a suitable treatment plan.

How to prevent alopecia

Whatever the cause, you can prevent fur loss and minimise the consequences of skin irritation. It's always better to prevent than to cure!

Firstly, stroke your pet regularly, the benefits of which are manifold. Not only does this retain daily contact with your animal for a strong relationship, it should also help to ease any stress you may be experiencing. Additionally, you will be able to identify any anomalies in their skin and fur.

It's important to keep your dog brushed and clean. Regular brushing (at least once a week, more for longer-haired breeds) will help to keep fur untangled and less likely to trap insects or dirt. When washing your dog, only use specialised dog products to avoid any allergic or chemical reactions.

If you're unsure about the condition of your dog's fur, always seek expert vet advice to avoid any future issues and give you peace of mind.

  Has your dog ever had alopecia?

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