Fur loss in dogs is common. This is one problem that keeps veterinarians and veterinary dermatologists very busy.
Typically, fur loss in dogs is triggered by allergies, infections, genetics or metabolic disturbances. There are so many potential reasons why a dog may shed excessively, or develop bald patches. That’s why it’s so important to work with your vet to get to the bottom of it.
Some breeds are more prone than others to lose hair in patches. Your vet will take this into account. Also, there may be potentially serious underlying conditions, such as hypothyroidism. Your vet will need to rule this out.
Why Do Dogs Lose Their Fur?
In addition to all of the above, there’s one more thing to consider.
This is a relatively new cause of dog fur loss. One that may require some medical detective work.
Believe it or not, certain drugs taken by humans can cause fur to fall. The culprit appears to be estrogen.
In one case, balding in three unrelated pugs was found to be the result of their owner’s use of estrogen hormone spray, applied to her arms.
When the dogs snuggled on her lap, they also absorbed a dose of this medication. Two of the dogs had severe fur loss. These were the ones who spent more time in close contact with their owner.
Hormone Replacement Therapy and Fur Loss in Dogs
There are other reports of this happening as well. The Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association published a separate report that showed six dogs, none of them related to one another, and living with separate families, developed hair loss. This was apparently caused by topical human hormone replacement therapy.
The dogs in this study ranged in age from 2 months to 2 1/2 years. The problem went deeper than fur loss. Most of the dogs also developed what the authors called “feminization.” Obviously, these are very powerful drugs that we don’t want our dogs exposed to.
Blood work on the dogs also showed evidence of elevated levels of both estrogen. Four of the dogs also had elevated progesterone. The good news is that fur loss (along with the other symptoms) stopped when the owners discontinued hormone therapy.
Can Hormone Replacement Therapy Cause Fur Loss in Dogs?
Undoubtedly, there are probably many more cases of fur loss caused by human hormone replacement. These likely aren’t brought to the attention of researchers, or are misdiagnosed as allergies or something else.
I guess the takeaway message would be that if you’re using hormones, applied to the forearm, you may want to take precautions so your pets, as well as your other family members, are not accidentally exposed.
Even though this investigation focused only on topically applied hormones, it’s probably a good idea to keep your pet away from other medications designed to be absorbed through the skin.
Fur Loss in Dogs
I’m not a vet or an animal healthcare expert. All I can do is share my own story of raising a 16-year-old Cocker spaniel with an holistic lifestyle and natural remedies. I can also share previously published information on common causes of fur loss in dogs. These include:
- Low thyroid function and other metabolic disturbances.
- No known cause
- Reactions to drugs
- Reactions to vaccines
- Nutritional deficiencies. Please remember I’m not an animal healthcare expert. But I’m convinced that dogs do better on a real food diet, as opposed to dried kibble. Genetically, dogs are the same as wolves. In the wild, wolves don’t eat kibble. Another problem with kibble is that it tends to be largely grain based. My own dog has done much better eating fewer grains.