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What might be causing bald patches on my dog?

Alopecia or hair loss can be caused by a number of issues such as skin infections, hormonal disease or parasite infestations such as fleas or mites.

Some of these conditions cause itchy skin – so it is likely that hair loss results from your dog scratching, itching or nibbling the area and damaging the hair, while other conditions are due to a hormonal disruption to hair production itself. Your vet will be able to perform a thorough physical examination, and ask questions about any changes in your pet’s health, and find out how long the problem has been going on.

For example, hormonal conditions like hypothyroidism and Cushing’s may result in changes in their weight or thirst. To determine the underlying cause your vet may need to run some diagnostic tests – which may include skin scrapes (to check for mites), hair plucks/fungal culture (to check for ringworm), bacteriology swabs (to check for bacterial infection), cytology (examining the cells on your dog’s skin) and sometimes biopsies (to further examine the skin and hair follicles) or blood tests (to rule out hormonal conditions if your pet has other symptoms).

Based on this information they will be able to determine the best treatment options for your dog.

Answered by: Dr Laura Sullivan MRCVS

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