By Lonnie Whitcher
Updated January 26, 2016
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Hair loss in cats and dogs refers to the abnormal loss or thinning of hair across the body and head. The medical term for it is “alopecia”, the same as the term used to describe some forms of hair loss in humans. Hair loss in cats and dogs is actually more common than most people think, and it makes up one of the primary reasons why people decide to bring their pets to the veterinarian. In almost all cases, hair loss will indicate some form of medical problem, although that issue doesn’t have to be severe or particularly dangerous. Rather, the most common reason for hair loss in animals is the presence of fleas, and this problem can be easily remedied with the use of topical flea treatments.
Of course, there are other reasons for hair loss in cats and dogs besides the presence of fleas. For instance, when humans are allergic to something they experience a variety of symptoms, including runny noses, watery eyes, and itching. However, when a pet is allergic to something, it shows its discomfort through the ears and skin. In other words, because it has itchy skin, the dog or cat may scratch or chew out its hair.
Another common reason for hair loss in these pets comes from improper nutrition. Like with humans, the hair of an animal needs access to a constant supply of nutrients that support healthy hair. These nutrients are the same as those that support healthy skin, such as omega 3, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. Hair that doesn’t get the right amount of nutrients will become dull, and eventually fall out. Often, pets who are on starvation diets generally have dull and thin coats. Hair loss due to poor nutrition has an impact on the whole body of the dog or cat, but it often shows most obviously over areas like the hips and back where the follicles have shorter cycles for growth.
Abnormal Organ Function and Blood Flow:
Because the liver, kidneys, intestines, and a variety of other organs in the body of your pet are responsible for regulating the level of nutrients within the blood, drugs and diseases that directly impact these organs will influence the level of hair loss. For example, pets with cancer or inflammatory bowel disease can often have thinning and dull hair. Similarly, pets who suffer from kidney failure have dull and bedraggled coats.
In the same vein, because hair is a living element that is nourished by blood flow, when blood is not able to circulate properly, hair will not be able to grow well. Pets with low blood pressure, weak hearts, and anemia may have dull coats and thin hair.
Speak to an Expert:
Because the causes of hair loss in cats and dogs are so varied, it’s important to speak to an expert if you begin to notice signs that your pet may be losing its hair. A full examination by a veterinarian will help to diagnose the root of the problem, and give some insights into how the issue should be addressed and treated.
COMMENTS FROM THE LOVINMYPUP ADMINISTRATOR:
HAIR LOSS IN OUR PETS CAN BE VERY UPSETTING. IT CAN BE AS SIMPLE AS FLEAS OR A MAJOR SYSTEMATIC FAILURE THAT CAUSES THAT LOSS. WE HAD A LASA OPSA MALE NAMED ” BEAR” MANY YEARS AGO. AROUND THE SAME TIME AS MY LATE HUSBAND BEGAN HIS FIGHT WITH HEART DISEASE, BEAR BEGAN TO ACT STRANGELY. AFTER MANY TESTS IT WAS DETERMINED THAT HIS HEART WAS ALSO FAILING. BACK THEN THE ONLY DRUG THAT WAS AVAILABLE FOR CANINE HEART FAILURE WAS DIGOXEN. FOR THE MOST PART BEAR DID OK ON THE DIGOXEN WHICH HELPED TO STRENGTHEN THE CONTRACTILITY OF HIS HEART. BUT I COULD TELL THAT THE DISEASE WAS TAKING ITS TOLL. AFTER A COUPLE OF YEARS BEAR BEGAN LOSING THE BEAUTIFUL BLACK AND WHITE COAT THAT WE LOVED SO MUCH. THE SHINE AND TEXTURE OF THE HAIR ITSELF WAS ALSO FADING DUE TO THE LACK OF OXYGEN TO HIS SYSTEM. WHAT USED TO BE SILKY STRANDS WERE NOW BRITTLE AND BREAKING DUE TO KIDNEY FAILURE. ONE MORNING I WOKE UP TO BEAR GASPING FOR AIR. WE DID A QUICK RUN TO THE VET AND HE WAS PUT INTO AN OXYGEN TENT FOR 4 HOURS. I WENT BACK TO PICK HIM UP BUT AS SOON AS HE LEFT THE TENT HE AGAIN STARTED GASPING FOR AIR. UNFORTUNATELY HIS CONDITIONED WORSENED AND THE DECISION WAS MADE TO HUMANELY EUTHANIZE HIM TO STOP THE SUFFERING. THAT WAS ONE OF THE SADDEST DAYS OF MY LIFE.
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