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What are Hair Loss Related to Genetic Factors?

Most genetic conditions involving hair loss in dogs are seen at birth or shortly after.  The condition can affect the hair follicles or the hair shaft itself.  There is no cure for the condition but you, as an owner, can ensure to keep your dog’s skin and remaining hair healthy.  To come to a proper diagnosis, your veterinarian may need to rule out other possible causes of his symptoms.  Once properly diagnosed, she will be able to offer you nutritional support and skin therapies he may need in his future to keep his body system healthy.

If your dog is born with no hair in specific areas or if he loses hair shortly after birth, he may have a genetic condition causing hair loss.

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Symptoms of Hair Loss Related to Genetic Factors in Dogs

Symptoms may include:

  • Graying hair throughout the coat
  • Melanoma formation
  • Dull, dry hair coat
  • Hyperkeratosis of hair follicles

Types

There are two different types of hair loss that can affect your dog.  There can be a condition affecting the hair shaft and once that can affect the follicle.  Issues affecting the follicle can prevent hair from growing in the first place.    Or if it begins to grow but then falls out, it may be due to the follicle not being strong enough to keep the hair in place.  Another follicle issue can be a decreased number of them in the affected area.  If there is an issue with the hair shaft, it is common to see the hair break off at different lengths of the hair.  Overall, you will see your dog with a dull dry hair coat with possible grayness throughout his coat.

Causes of Hair Loss Related to Genetic Factors in Dogs

There are a variety of genetic factors that can cause hair loss in your dog.  For example, albinism, breed disposition, dermatomyositis, protein deficiency and hypotrichosis are all conditions that can affect your dog’s coat.  Depending on the condition, the coat can just be excessively thin in areas, have shorter fur strands than what is normal, or have no fur growth at all in the affected area.

Diagnosis of Hair Loss Related to Genetic Factors in Dogs

When you arrive at the veterinarian, she will begin by performing a full physical exam and taking a verbal history from you.  The presence of the condition, duration, progression and predisposition, where the fur loss is on the body should be considered when taking a history.  The majority of genetic conditions will cause the fur loss to appear at birth or shortly after.  However, there is always a chance for a rare case of development later in life.

Your veterinarian will come to her diagnosis by ruling out other possible causes of his symptoms.  There are similar conditions that can result in fur loss for your dog.  Diagnostic tests the vet may perform include skin scraping, skin cytology, blood work, allergy testing, and a check for parasites.  The skin scraping will be done to rule out skin mites.  A skin cytology can rule out a bacterial or yeast overgrowth of the skin that can lead to loss of fur.  Allergies can also cause loss of fur loss due to chronic and severe itching.  

General blood work is always a good idea to perform during any type of diagnostic process.  A complete blood cell count and chemistry panel will provide general information on organ function and blood production within the body system.

Treatment of Hair Loss Related to Genetic Factors in Dogs

During the treatment process, the veterinarian first has to ensure there is no underlying cause other than a genetic condition.  If there is a cause, she will need to address that first in order to treat the hair loss.  Without treating the underlying issue, you will only be masking the symptoms, not fixing it.  

If the hair loss is due to a genetic factor, it cannot be treated.  There is no way for your veterinarian to increase the number of hair follicles in the affected area or make the follicles produce hairs.  If the issue is with the hair shaft, it is possible for her to offer therapies and nutrients to keep the hair as strong as possible.  

Your veterinarian can offer him your canine therapies and supplements in order to keep his skin healthy and prevent it from over drying. Special shampoos can assist with this and additionally, starting him on a fish oil supplement can help his skin externally and internally.

Recovery of Hair Loss Related to Genetic Factors in Dogs

If the hair loss is indeed caused by a genetic factor, there is no cure.  Your veterinarian will be able to offer your dog supportive therapies to keep the skin and hair he has healthy.  The loss of fur should not affect his quality of life in any form; it is just a characteristic he will have for his lifetime.