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What is Telogen Defluxion?

Your dog’s hair develops in four different stages of growth and renewal.  The anagen stage is when new hair is actively growing.  The catagen stage is when the hair has reached its maximum length and stops to grow. The third stage is the dormant telogen phase, which is when the hair is still attached but is not growing. Exogen is the last stage; this is when the hair is shed from the follicle. The hair growth process then starts over again.

Stress on your dog’s body can disrupt the normal hair development stages.  If your dog is losing his hair it is important that he is seen by a veterinarian.  There are many serious conditions and disorders that cause hair loss and they need to be ruled out.

Telogen defluxion in dogs is a form of alopecia.  Alopecia means hair loss.  Telogen defluxion is a disorder which causes excessive hair shedding in dogs.

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Symptoms of Telogen Defluxion in Dogs

Symptoms of this hair loss disorder may include:

  • Thinning hair
  • Hair loss in large clumps
  • Bald spots
  • Finding excessive hair being shed
  • Excessive hair loss when grooming/brushing the dog

Causes of Telogen Defluxion in Dogs

Telogen defluxion in dogs is caused by great stress on the body which has occurred in the last 1 to 3 months such as:

  • Pregnancy/Nursing- Dogs can lose their hair after pregnancy or during nursing 
  • General anesthesia - Anesthesia can affect the hair follicles
  • Surgical procedure itself
  • Extreme anxiety and stress
  • High fever or severe infection
  • Drug therapy such as NSAIDs and chemotherapy.  Most dogs do not lose a lot of hair during chemotherapy, although a few dog breeds experience a substantial amount of hair loss during treatment such as the Poodle, Old English Sheepdog, Shih Tzu, Bichon Frise, Yorkshire Terrier, Maltese, Airedale and Welsh Terrier.
  • Radiation treatment
  • Starvation

Diagnosis of Telogen Defluxion in Dogs

The veterinarian will want to go over the patient’s medical history and vaccination records.  If this is the first time you are bringing your dog to this veterinarian, it is a good idea to bring your dog’s previous medical records with you. Please let the veterinarian know if your dog has experienced any stressful events (pregnancy, illnesses, surgery, chemotherapy) within the past three months. 

The veterinarian will perform a physical examination which may include taking your pet’s temperature, weight, blood pressure, pulse and heart rate.  He may check the gums which should be pink in color.  If your dog’s gums are white, it may be an indication of a circulatory problem or anemia. If your dog’s gums have a blue tinged color, this may mean a lack of oxygen in his body. Yellow gums suggest that your dog is jaundiced, which is usually an indication of liver problems. 

The veterinarian may recommend having a complete blood count performed, along with a serum chemistry panel, urinalysis, fecal exam and a skin biopsy.  The complete blood count can evaluate the dog’s platelets, and the white and red blood cell count.  A CBC can also help determine if there is a bacterial infection or if your dog is anemic. A serum chemistry panel checks organ function; it helps determine that the organs are working properly.  The urinalysis can aid in determining if there is a bacterial infection, sugar or blood in the urine. The fecal exam can help rule out intestinal parasites.  A skin biopsy can help rule out skin parasites and bacterial or fungal infections.

In some instances, the veterinarian may decide to do a trichogram, which is a test to evaluate the hair shaft for abnormalities indicative of telogen defluxion.

Treatment of Telogen Defluxion in Dogs

If the doctor diagnosis telogen defluxion, he may want to evaluate your dog’s diet to make sure your pet is getting enough nutrients.  He may prescribe dietary supplements such as omega 3, salmon oil and powdered kelp. It may be helpful to brush your dog daily. Brushing can prevent the shedding getting on clothing, furniture and carpets and may provide a form of stress relief for your pet. Fortunately, the hair will regrow in most cases.

Recovery of Telogen Defluxion in Dogs

Most dogs suffering from telogen defluxion will have their hair regrow. Dams will usually have new hair growth once the puppies are around 4 to 4.5 months. Dogs that undergo chemotherapy will experience hair regrowth once the therapy has been completed. Sometimes the new hair coming in may be a slightly different color and texture. Most dogs that have radiation therapy will have hair regrowth.  The new hair growth may take up to six months after the treatment has been finished.  

Dogs should have yearly wellness examinations, which may include wellness screening tests; these tests are extremely important in senior pets.  The early diagnosis of a health condition may ensure a better recovery prognosis.