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Does your pet suffer from alopecia? Real Vet Advice For Hair Loss in Cats and Dogs

Posted April 1, 2016


Alopecia, or hair loss in pets, is a common disorder in both dogs and cats, which causes partial or complete hair loss. Alopecia in pets can be the result of problems with the endocrine system, lymphatic system, immune system, or parasites. Alopecia can affect dogs and cats of all ages, breeds and gender; and can be either gradual or acute.

The symptoms of alopecia are very noticeable, and can present themselves in many ways, such as bald circles, accompanied by crusting and inflammation around the area, symmetrical alopecia, patchy alopecia, or hair loss that itches and hair loss that does not itch.

Common causes of alopecia include parasites such as demodex and other topical parasites including sarcoptic mites or fleas causing hair loss from excessive itching. Hair loss occurs when there is a disruption in the growth of hair follicles; most commonly from infection, trauma, secondary to immune disease, nutritional abnormalities, or endocrine system abnormalities, like hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease. If there are multiple missing patches of hair, it could be associated with an inflammation of the hair follicle (folliculitis).

Skin disease and alopecia can be very frustrating to deal with. Getting to the root of the problem with hair loss will help effectively treat the problem. Your veterinarian will want to do a complete physical exam, run blood tests ruling out immune mediated, metabolic or underlying endocrine causes of alopecia, as well as skin scrape tests and fungal testing to rule out parasites or fungus causes of alopecia. In some cases, a biopsy must be performed to get to the underlying cause of the problem.

Once the diagnosis has been made, specific treatments will be recommended. In addition to treating underlying cause of hair loss with traditional medications, alternative therapies are highly recommended. Diet is very powerful for skin disease— a clean or home cooked diet is recommended; and at times a hypoallergenic diet is desirable.

Melatonin has been shown to help tremendously with seasonal alopecia of boxers, 3-6 mg three times per day. However, use caution- melatonin can inhibit fertility and have adverse effects in diabetic animals.

High levels of omega three fatty acids are recommended in the form of fish oil (NHV PetOmega-3 is a great source for this). Supplements for the immune system, such as burdock root, Oregon grape root, and licorice and bee pollen are helpful. NHV’s Alopecia Kit is a good natural supplement for hair loss in pets, as NHV Stimmune is a very powerful supplement for skin and for allergies and NHV Ouch Away spray is very effective for infections and helps with hair re-growth. Antioxidants such as vitamin C and bioflavonoids are strongly recommended. Digestive enzymes and probiotics have also been shown to help with skin disease and hair loss.

If you pet is suffering from Alopecia (hairloss), please feel free to contact me for an on-line consultation offered through NHV. You can also contact your NHV Pet Experts free of charge.

Dr. Hillary Cook is a graduate of Virginia Maryland Regional Veterinary Medical school. She has been practicing holistic and integrative veterinary medicine for fifteen years. She certified in Veterinary acupuncture and is fully qualified in Western and Chinese herbalism. She is the owner of Animal Wellness Center, an integrative veterinary clinic in Crozet, VA. She enjoys spending time with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of pets including dogs, cats and chickens. When time allows, you can find her in the garden or on the tennis court!

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