Did you know that dog’s hair is 15 times denser than that of human beings? No wonder why they shed so much! According to Dr. Kathryn Primm, ALL normal dogs experience some degree of hair loss all year long, especially those who stay indoors most of the time and are less exposed to extreme temperature. However, if your pooch is losing hair in such a way that he is getting bald in some parts of his body, that’s a different story.
But what about senior dogs that lose hair on their tail? Is that something that you should be worried about? Read on.
Why do old dogs lose hair?
As a pet owner, it is normal to be concerned if you see that your old dog is losing hair. However, you should know that this can be caused by a variety of reasons. Just like human beings, dogs’ hairs go through a certain process. When their hairs get old and damaged, they fall out. This is a normal process, and something that you don’t need to worry about.
On the other hand, if the hair loss in your senior dog seems to be excessive, it could be health related. And this is the time when you should take it to the vet so you will know what’s causing it.
Let us explore more on why old dogs lose hair.
· Seasonal shedding
Your senior dog may experience the so-called seasonal shedding, which is due to the length of time it is exposed to light including artificial lighting. It can also be a result of temperature as well as hormonal changes. This could be dramatic. Your old furry friend may lose lots of its fur in just a short period of time. This is called ‘blowing coat’. After a massive hair loss, your old dog’s fur may not appear as full as it was before. But there will be no patchiness or balding.
Furthermore, you can expect your senior pooch to lose lots of hair during the spring season, but they should grow back come summer time. If it is just a normal shedding, the hair should fall out uniformly, leaving no bare spots. Otherwise, it is highly recommended that you have your canine checked immediately.
· Hormonal abnormality
After giving birth, female dogs may also experience significant hair loss, particularly if they are nursing a number of puppies. This is due to hormonal changes, the same thing that happens when women give birth and breastfeed.
However, there are also hormonal abnormalities in old dogs that need to be addressed. An example of which is Cushing’s disease, which occurs when the senior dog’s cortisol levels are too high. This results in massive hair loss as well. In fact, it can lead to baldness or alopecia.
Hypothyroidism is another health condition that causes abnormal hair loss in old dogs. This is when the canine’s thyroid levels are too low.
The bottom line is, if you notice that your senior dog is losing too much hair, it can be a cause of hormonal abnormalities. It is then essential that you consult a vet.
Old dogs are susceptible to different kinds of illnesses, and some of them can cause excessive hair loss. For instance, bacteria or mange mites may thrive in the dog’s hair follicles and this can cause infections, which, in turn, results in massive shedding and balding. The same is true when a senior dog has ringworm or other fungal infections and skin allergies.
· Nutritional deficiencies
Like human beings, dogs need certain nutrients so they can maintain proper growth of their fur. Otherwise, their hairs will start to fall out and may even get worse if not addressed right away. Take note that the nutritional needs of canine change as they get older, so you should ensure that your senior dog is getting all the nutrients that he needs. You may be required to change his diet or perhaps provide supplements.
If you see that your senior dog is losing hair in patches and some of his body parts are getting bald, that could be due to parasites. Some like fleas and ticks may be visible on the skin, while some, such as skin mites, cannot be seen by the naked eye. Either way, you will see some signs and symptoms. Older dogs that are infested with parasites tend to frequently scratch or bite their irritated skin.
Fleas can cause irreversible damages to your old dog’s skin and hair. Once this type of parasite bites your pooch, it can cause allergic reactions. The skin may get inflamed and can even result in permanent baldness if not treated immediately.
As a dog gets older, he may develop alopecia or thin coat. Just like humans, this is part of the aging process. It may or may not be a cause of underlying hormonal disease.
Is it any different to why younger dogs lose hair?
Like what we have mentioned earlier, all normal dogs, regardless of the age, may experience hair loss at some point in time, mainly because of seasonal shedding and the normal process of hair falling out and getting replaced with new ones. Both young and old dogs may also shed due to some illnesses, allergies, and even lack of nutrients.
However, there are certain reasons which are more prevalent in older dogs, and those have something to do with the aging process.
What causes bald spots/ patches and clumps with hair loss?
Normal shedding in senior dogs should be uniform and won’t leave a certain area of its body bare. But if there are bald spots or patches and clumps, then it’s a sign that something is off, especially if it occurs abruptly.
Bald patches can be caused by allergies. You may not be aware but your senior dog might be allergic to something. It could also be due to flea bites, which are the most common cause of allergic reactions in young and old dogs alike.
Other reasons for bald patches include pressure sores, injuries and scarring, reaction to vaccination, diabetes, thyroid issues, skin cancer, as well as exposure to chemotherapy. Take note that some breeds are also genetically predisposed to developing bald spots.
Why do dogs lose hair on their tails?
Determining the cause of an old dog losing hair on its tail can be challenging without the assistance of a veterinarian. However, there are certain things that can be valuable to the vet. You need to observe the behavior of your senior dog. Does it seem like he is chewing off his tail most of the time? If so, then it is most likely that his tail is frizzy, rough, or has broken hair. It could also be inflamed or sore and have bald spots, especially if he is biting it aggressively. All of these can be due to flea bites.
You should know that even a single bite can drive your dog crazy. In fact, flea allergy dermatitis is the number one reason for tail chewing in dogs, and it is crucial that it gets treated as soon as possible with the use of antibiotics as well as steroids in some cases.
Another cause of hair loss on the tail region is atopy or environmental/food allergies. It could also be due to anal gland issues or intestinal worms. Or if your old dog has arthritis in the tail, broken tail, or a foreign body on its tail, it will respond to the pain by excessively chewing off his tail causing hair loss. Emotional distress, fear, anxiety, and other behavioral disorders are potential causes too.
On the other hand, if your senior dog isn’t actively chewing his tail, it is possible that he is suffering from other health conditions. This is why it would be best to speak with your veterinarian so proper diagnosis will be done.
What are other most common places that old dogs lose hair from?
Old dogs usually lose hair on their tail, around the eyes, and trunk of the body. If the hair thinning is so extreme that you can almost see the skin, or if there is no hair at all, you need to schedule a vet visit so the actual cause will be investigated.
What are the best ways of treating hair loss at home?
The right treatment for hair loss in senior dogs depends on what is actually causing it. If it is due to seasonal shedding, then daily brushing and bathing with a moisturizing shampoo can help.
You must also understand that as your dog gets old, his nutritional needs increase, so it is very important that you feed him with healthy foods. You can also give supplements if needed as this will aid in promoting healthy hair growth as well.
On the other hand, if the hair loss is because of certain health conditions, you must take your senior dog to the vet so he will be provided with the right medications.
Old dogs may experience hair loss at any time of the year. However, if you notice that the shedding is too much, and it is leaving bald spots, you need to seek the assistance of your vet to see what’s going on. Make sure to brush your dog’s coat every day and give him nutritious foods. But if the cause of hair loss is a medical condition, then consult your vet and ask for the right medication.