Authored by: Dr. Lindsey, DVM
Hair loss or bald spots on dogs can also be called alopecia. It is a lack of hair where hair should be present. The hair loss can be accompanied with or without itching. It’s a common problem that can be caused by many things which can make it frustrating.
These bald areas may be all over the dog’s body or in just one small or focal spot. There can be congenital (the dog was born with it) or acquired causes. Examples of some causes of hair loss are allergies, parasites, infection, hormones, or metabolic. Besides the bald spots, owners may notice their dog licking or scratching an area excessively, thickened skin, color changes to the skin, or scaly skin. The clinical signs seen may also depend on the underlying cause.
The veterinarian will do a thorough exam of the skin and will likely want to do some testing on the bald areas. The veterinarian may also want to do some bloodwork to look for possible underlying causes. These diagnostic tests will all help to get the bottom of what is causing the bald spots. Treatment can begin once the underlying cause is identified. It does take some time for hair to grow back even after starting treatment. Do not use human hair loss medications. Also, it’s important to not breed dogs that have genetic causes of hair loss.
Dr. Lindsey graduated from Colorado State University in 2009 and works in general practice, shelter medicine, and more recently as a civilian contractor veterinarian for the Army. She is also certified in acupuncture and resides in Palm Springs, CA.