What is Post Clipping Alopecia?
While you may think you are doing your dog a favor by getting his dense coat clipped for summer, it can affect the regrowth of the hair considerably. Owners sometimes find that the regrowth takes ages to grow back, and even then the hair is very thin and a different color, giving their dog a scruffy appearance. Dogs with dense coats (Samoyeds, Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamutes, Keeshonds, German Shepherds, Chow Chows and Retrievers) are kept cool by their coats.
Many professionals are now recommending against clipping of your dog’s coat if possible and suggesting a good brushing that will help your dog deal with heat and keep the appearance healthy. In other instances, the shaving of the fur due to medical necessity may bring on a case of post clipping alopecia.
When your dog’s dense hair coat is shaved, it may grow back thin, patchy, and a different texture, altering his natural heating and cooling system. When this occurs, it is called post clipping alopecia. This condition has been known to occur in some cases after a grooming or when the dog’s hair has been shaved in areas due to surgical necessity.
Symptoms of Post Clipping Alopecia in Dogs
With post clipping alopecia, It takes a long time for the dense hair coat to grow back, creating heating and cooling problems for your dog.
- Your dog is vulnerable to sunburn where the hair is thin
- The regrowth hair is often a different color and texture
- Thin wispy regrowth instead of the once lush thick coat
- Hyperpigmentation (darkened skin on the body)
- Symmetrical hair loss on both sides of the coat
- Patchy and scruffy haircoat
- There are many possible medical causes for canine alopecia, but post clipping alopecia occurs after a double coated (thick dense coat) dog has been shorn
- Post clipping alopecia in your dog is usually instigated by the clipping process, although no one understands how that works other than it may disrupt the natural hair follicle growth when the density is altered
- While owners tend to get their dogs shorn to ease any stress during summer, the dog’s coat is perfectly designed to protect them from heat, and protects them from the burning rays of the sun
Causes of Post Clipping Alopecia in Dogs
- Post clipping alopecia seems to occur after shearing a dog of its double coated dense fur
- Clipping seems to initiate a condition where the hair cycle is arrested which means the hairs on your dog’s skin enter the telogen phase and the hair falls out but does not prompt new growth to occur which is the normal pattern
- Although there is no proof yet of the cause of this condition, experts assume that the cooling of the skin caused by clipping changes the regrowth pattern
- The cause could be an underlying health condition such as hypothyroidism that has not been noticed; your veterinarian can test your dog for endocrine disorders
- It seems there is no one definitive cause for this condition, but what the experts do agree on is that there is a chance that should you get your dog clipped (mainly double coated dense fur coated dogs), your dog’s fur coat may not grow back to its original form, or that it may not grow back at all apart from a thin wispy coating
Diagnosis of Post Clipping Alopecia in Dogs
As more and more dogs are being groomed, the additional services of clipping seem to have sparked a hot debate between owners and professionals about whether the clipping causes the alopecia. It is a fact that a high number of heavy coated dogs have suffered what is now called post clipping alopecia. Although it is a cosmetic effect, it can subject your dog to sunburn as the once protected skin from the coat is exposed to the elements. Shaving for access in the case of a medical procedure, or due to skin problems such as hot spots is unavoidable.
While the experts believe the clipping of your pet’s fur for whatever reason and the lack of regrowth that may result may be caused by interrupting the natural development of the growing hair coat, (perhaps due to temperature changes) the fact remains that sometimes the normal haircoat is very slow to regrow. Usually if there is a regrowth, which may take as long as two years, the hair texture and color is often a different color than the original coat.
If your dog is suffering from this condition, ask your veterinarian to do a thorough check up just in case it is health related. Testing may include ruling out causes such as sex hormone imbalance, hypothyroidism and hyperadrenocorticism. Additional blood work, to evaluate your canine’s overall health condition, may be recommended.
Treatment of Post Clipping Alopecia in Dogs
Your veterinarian may recommend medication that has been shown to give positive results in many cases. Veterinary prescribed melatonin and levothyroxine may be suggested to be given orally.
Also recommended are hydrotherapy, keeping the area warm and covered in order to increase blood flow to the area, and gentle massage if your dog allows it. If the area is sensitive due to sun exposure, your veterinarian can perform a visual check on a regular basis in order to assess the skin condition.
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Recovery of Post Clipping Alopecia in Dogs
Take care to ensure that your pet does not suffer from sunburn on the now exposed skin. Sunburn on the skin can further complicate the regrowth stage as well as being painful for your pet. While the heat of summer can be great in some areas, dogs are often adapted to deal with it even with the densest of hair. Heavy double coated dogs like the Samoyed are insulated from the sun’s heat by their protective coats.
While for owners the hair shedding and combing of the dog can be testing during these hot months, consider it a way of spending time with your best friend. A thorough carding of the coat or deshedding grooming will usually allow the thicker coats to breathe and prevent matting of the hair. The use of silicone based pet products when washing your dog will assist you to keep the hair in excellent condition when bathing your dog. In cases of post clipping alopecia that occur in the winter, a well fitting suitable canine coat will be necessary.