Alopecia

The term alopecia is used to refer to partial or total lack of hair in areas where hair is normally present. This can be due to loss of hair or failure of hair to grow. Alopecia is an extremely common pet health condition and has a variety of possible causes in both dogs and cats. 

Alopecia

How it Affects your pet

The way alopecia affects a pet depends on its cause. Common causes of canine and feline alopecia include the following:
Fleas, Ticks, Allergies, such as, flea, food, skin allergies.
Fungal infections, Bacterial infection, Genetic diseases, Stress, Endocrine disorders, Anxiety, Reactions to medications, Nutrient deficiencies, Friction from ill-fitting collars
An important first step in diagnosing the cause of alopecia is to distinguish between primary and self-induced hair loss. Primary hair loss occurs when a condition causes destruction of the hair. Self-induced hair loss occurs when an animal removes its own hair by scratching, licking, biting or grooming. Whether hair loss is primary or self induced can often be determined by microscopically examining hair from the area of loss. Once the type of hair loss has been established, the veterinarian can choose appropriate tests based on the pet’s other symptoms and the history of the alopecia. The results of these tests will help the owner and the veterinarian to understand why the pet is losing hair.

Common symptoms

Alopecia is not a disease with symptoms. Instead, it is a symptom of a wide range of pet health conditions and can occur alone or with other symptoms. Some symptoms that are important to note when they occur along with alopecia include the following: Itching. Excessive grooming. Rash. Skin discoloration. Excessive thirst. Excessive urination. Weight gain or weight loss. Vomiting. Diarrhea. Changes in appetite. Changes in activity levels. Coughing. Sneezing. Behavior changes.

Treatments

Treatment depends on the cause of the alopecia. A pet with inflammatory or autoimmune disorders, including allergies, often require corticosteroids or other immunosuppressive drugs. Those with alopecia caused by skin infections require antibiotic therapy. Pets with nutritional disorders need supplementation and diet change. Animals with parasites or fungal infections need appropriate anti-fungal or anti-parasitic medications. Dogs and cats with endocrine disorders need appropriate treatment for these disorders. Animals with alopecia due to anxiety or stress require behavioral therapy and anti-anxiety medications.

Breeds Affected

The connection between alopecia and breed depends on the underlying condition causing the hair loss. Many conditions that cause alopecia have no association with breed. There are, however, a few genetic conditions in dogs and cats that have been linked to breed. There are also a few hairless breeds in which alopecia is a desired trait. Naturally hairless dog breeds include the following: American hairless terrier, Chinese Crested, Hairless Khala, Peruvian Inca Orchid, and the Xoloitzcuintli. Cats from the following breeds are also naturally hairless: Ukranian Levkoy, Elf cat, Bambino, Peterbald, Donskoy, and the Sphynx.

Alopecia Affects

  • The way alopecia affects a pet depends on its cause. Common causes of canine and feline alopecia include the following:
    Fleas, Ticks, Allergies, such as, flea, food, skin allergies.
    Fungal infections, Bacterial infection, Genetic diseases, Stress, Endocrine disorders, Anxiety, Reactions to medications, Nutrient deficiencies, Friction from ill-fitting collars
    An important first step in diagnosing the cause of alopecia is to distinguish between primary and self-induced hair loss. Primary hair loss occurs when a condition causes destruction of the hair. Self-induced hair loss occurs when an animal removes its own hair by scratching, licking, biting or grooming. Whether hair loss is primary or self induced can often be determined by microscopically examining hair from the area of loss. Once the type of hair loss has been established, the veterinarian can choose appropriate tests based on the pet’s other symptoms and the history of the alopecia. The results of these tests will help the owner and the veterinarian to understand why the pet is losing hair.

Similar conditions

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