Hair Loss (Alopecia) Average Cost

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What is Hair Loss (Alopecia)?

Hair loss is not a disease, it is a symptom of an underlying ailment in your horse.  Alopecia is a good indication that you should have the horse seen by a veterinarian. Daily grooming of the horse is not only good for the maintenance of the horse but it also allows you to see first-hand if your equine companion has any skin issues or hair loss.  Most medical conditions have a much better prognoses when they are diagnosed and treated at the early stages of the disease.

Alopecia in horses is a condition where the horse loses his hair in patches, or over the entire  body. The underlying cause of alopecia needs to be diagnosed to help prevent further hair loss on the horse.

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Symptoms of Hair Loss (Alopecia) in Horses

Symptoms may include one or more of the following:

  • Patches of missing hair
  • Unusual amount of hair on grooming brush
  • Crusty matted hair
  • Thinning of hair
  • Horse is itchy
  • Flaky skin
  • Redness on skin

Causes of Hair Loss (Alopecia) in Horses

  • Seasonal hair loss
  • Dermatophilosis (rain rot)
  • Dermatophytosis (ringworm)
  • Malnutrition
  • Allergies
  • Parasites
  • Fungal infection
  • Tight fitting saddle or halter
  • Auto-immune disease
  • Pregnancy or lactating

Diagnosis of Hair Loss (Alopecia) in Horses

The veterinarian will go over the medical history of your horse and discuss any previous injuries or health ailments. He may ask to see vaccination, dental and deworming records.  The veterinarian will need to know when you first noticed the hair loss.  The horse’s diet may need to be reviewed. Let your veterinarian know if there has been any recent infestation of ticks, horseflies or gnats in the stalls. The veterinarian will then perform a full physical exam which  may include:

  • Listening to his heart, lungs and gastrointestinal tract with a stethoscope
  • Blood pressure
  • Weight
  • Hoof testing
  • Skin exam
  • Rectal exam
  • Check the color of the gums
  • Palpation of the limbs and muscles
  • Palpation of lymph nodes

Diagnostic tests may include:

  • Complete blood count - Checks the count of platelets, red and white blood cells; this helps determine if there is a bacterial infection or if the horse is anemic
  • Serum chemistry panel - This blood test checks on organ functions (kidneys, liver, blood protein and electrolytes)
  • Serum allergy test (SAT) -  If the veterinarian believes that the hair loss is due to allergy he will recommend this test; it aids in determining the allergens the horse may be allergic too
  • Fecal Exam - Can help diagnose parasites and if there is any blood in the feces
  • Urinalysis - Checks for kidney function, crystals, blood or bacteria in the urine
  • Skin scrape - Can check for parasites or fungal infections
  • Fungal cultures - Can help determine ringworm parasite
  • Blood smears can also help find parasites

Treatment of Hair Loss (Alopecia) in Horses

The treatment of hair loss in the horse will depend on what the veterinarian diagnosed after the physical exam and the results of the diagnostic tests. If he determined that the hair loss is due to a seasonal hair loss there will not be a treatment plan; this a normal process horses go through.  Mares that have loss hair during pregnancy and lactation may be given supplements; usually this type of alopecia is temporary.

Dermatophilosis (rain rot)

Removal of any crusty scabs will help the skin heal.  The horse will need to be washed with an antimicrobial shampoo, and patted dry each time. If there is also a bacterial infection present, the horse will be prescribed antibiotics. 

Dermatophytosis (ringworm) 

Gloves should be worn while handling the horse.  Ringworm is contagious to humans. It is usually treated with antibiotics, antifungal shampoo, iodine and miconazole creams.


The horse will need to be on a balance diet and may also need vitamins and supplements.  If he was diagnosed as anemic he may also need B12 injections.


The results of the serum allergy test, will determine what allergens the horse is allergic to.  Allergens may include mold, dust, pollen, insect bites, certain food, chemicals, vaccine and other medications. Treatment includes avoidance of the allergen, corticosteroids, antihistamines and allergy shots. 


Deworming the horse will be necessary.  Stalls and pastures should be cleaned of manure.  Insecticides, removal of standing water, fly traps, and mesh screens installed in the stalls, can help control insects that transmit the parasite.  

Fungal infections

The infections are usually treated with a betadine wash down, antibiotics and topical creams.  It is best to wear gloves.

Tight fitting halters and saddles

Your horse will need to be refitted for the correct size saddle and halter.  The veterinarian may suggest a topical cream if the skin is irritated or inflamed.

Autoimmune Disease

Treatment will depend on the disease and organs affected. Many autoimmune diseases are treated with anti-inflammatory and corticosteroids medications.  Supplements may also be suggested. Your veterinarian will have a consultation with you and discuss what the best treatment plan is for your horse.

Recovery of Hair Loss (Alopecia) in Horses

In most cases, following the treatment plan the horse will make full recovery.  Within weeks of the treatment his hair will usually grow back.  It will be necessary to have follow-up visits to monitor his progress.

Some diagnostic tests will need to be retaken to ensure a healthy recovery.  Horses diagnosed with an autoimmune disease will need to repeat visits to monitor his condition and to check if there are any side effects to the medications.

It is recommended, even if your horse appears healthy, he should be seen by a veterinarian once a year for a wellness check.

Hair Loss (Alopecia) Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

5 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Hair loss from tail

Hi my pony tail has become really thin and just falls out from the bottom. There is one small patch on the tail but the hair over the top is smooth so I know she was not rubbing
Vet did biopsy said alopecia areata! Won’t give steroids as worried in case of laminitis and prescibed a steriod spray
They didn’t know an awful lot about this and I feel I’m in limbo at the moment.
Is her tail lickely to grow back?
Is our first year under saddle she was broke last may could stress have done this?
Any supplement I could give her? Ger skin, coat and hooves are excellent.
Any advice would be hugely appreciated.

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Appaloosa X lusitano
13 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Thin coat and complete hair loss

I have a 13 year old Lusitano X appaloosa gelding, I bred him and his mum and dad both had healthy coats.
My gelding grows a very very thin winter coat with barely any hair on his face and then around June time each year he loses all of his coat from head to toe. The vets initially thought rainrot but not that, he doesn't itch or have any inflammation either. Have tried various coat supporting supplements to no avail.
My vets seem to be stumped. He is happy in himself and I just protect him from the sun and flies in the summer with a fly rug.
Any thoughts?

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Gypsy, Flash, Bandit
20 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Hair loss over total body

I have three paint horses, 2 tobanio (mother: 20 years old, son: 8 years old) and a 30 year old overo. It's hard to tell with the overo, but the two tobanios have lost most of their hair all over their bodies. I have to use a soft brush to brush them because they are getting sunburned. All are out on pasture and have been all summer. We have had an unusually hot muggy summer, so I was wondering, since all three of them were losing hair if it was because the temperatures have been soaring to over 100 degrees which, being in Canada, none of us are used to. There are no scabs, flakes, and the horses don't seem to be unusually itchy. They were stabled during the day and out at night.

Eadie MacCarthy

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Quarter Horse
28 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Fever; weight loss
Fever; weight loss, lethargy
Fever; weight loss, lethargy,
Fever; weight loss, lethargy, alopi

Our 27/8 year old mare suddenly lost alot of weight, showed signs of lethargy, and now has a cough. We've been giving 8 lbs of Equine Senior which has begun to help somewhat with the weight. She eats everything, feed, hay and pasture. But she is now losing her coat around the chest, inside of her back legs and still is lethargic. She moves around, but slowly and stiffly.
Thought we were dealing w/an infection have been giving her Uniprim, which has removed fever which was 103-103.5, but this may be a temporary fix.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1611 Recommendations
Annie should be seen by your veterinarian, and probably have some lab tests done, to assess her systemic function. Without seeing her, I can't determine what might be going on with her, but your veterinarian will be able to figure out what is going on with her.

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Quarter Horse
24 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

I have a 24 year old QH mare who is getting patches of baldness on her neck, face, and underbelly. She has never had this before, and this started about 5 - 6 weeks ago. She is still eating and drinking as usual. In conjunction with this, I have noted that she seems to be having stiffness in her neck when she bends down to eat. It goes away once she has started grazing. She has a lot of arthritis in her knees so I suspect there is now arthritis in her neck. Could these be related? I'm more concerned about the alopecia. The hair comes out in clumps with scabs attached to the bottom. It's like scurf that she gets on her cannon bones in the spring / summer. There is no change in housekeeping (their stalls are kept quite clean), no change in food or supplements. The other horse doesn't appear to have this affliction and they are always together.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1611 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, without seeing Holly, I can't diagnose what might be going on with her skin, or her neck. Bacterial or fungal infections are possible, as is arthritis. It would be best to have your veterinarian look at her, determine what might be going on, and recommend any appropriate therapy for her.

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20 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Loss of hair

My mare (she is 20 yo) who wears a rug all the time lost lots of hair on the side of the shoulders in the last few weeks. For the rest she looks healthy and she is in great form.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
There are various causes for a mare to lose hair in certain areas which include rubbing (her rug for example), allergies, parasites, hormonal conditions, infections among other causes; you should keep an eye on her to see if the bald patch increases in size or if there are signs of rubbing. Without examining her, I cannot give you any constructive advice. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

my horse has patches of bald skin all over flank and belly, been treated initially for ringworm but results from test have come back negtaive to any fungal infections. Her skin under the bald area has changed to a darker colour. She is 6yr old TB. this has progressively got worse and spread further over the past two year. Hair grows over in winter and hides areas but they are still there. Any suggestions ? could this be allergy to food, and would this change her actual skin pigment?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
It sounds like seasonal allergies which normally occur around the same time of year (autumn/fall), along with flank biting and kicking could also cause some discolouration of the skin. These types of suspected allergies can increase in severity year on year; I would recommend consulting a Dermatologist who may be able to advise you on common issues in your area; there is usually no quick or easy fix to this problem but may be managed depending on the underlying cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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23 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Hair loss, Hot to touch, Red and Itchy, Deprresed

My horse has started rubbing her face n her chest and she's started loosing her hair all down her chest n on her face .
its getting very concerning on how aggressively she's starting to itch and its very hot to the touch as much as I clean it and put cream on its still getting worse.
She's never had anything like this and iv had her 11 years n iv been on the same yard for 9 so I don't no what it is or where it has come from

Thank You Very Much
Hazel cooper

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations

Most causes of hair loss in horses present with signs of scabs, flakes or other debris from the disease process like in ringworm, rain scald etc… The severe rubbing or itching may indicate some type of irritation or allergy; has your yard started using different disinfectants or anything else? It may be worth having your Veterinarian take a scraping from the area just to rule out a few usual suspects and look for possible sources of allergy or other disease process in a horse Poppy’s age. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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American Paint
24 Years
Has Symptoms
Hair Loss
I have a 24-year-old American Paint Horse tobiano gelding that had trouble shedding his thick winter hair, and has now lost over 2/3 of his summer hair coat. His bald spots began to burn, so I moved him from my big open field to a smaller paddock with large run-in shed and a shady tree line. I also put a fly sheet and fly mask on him, but his face was so itchy he rubbed it raw and I had to remove the fly mask. He does NOT have any rain rot, just bald spots. All of his sunburn has healed, but no hair has regrown. When I realized no hair was growing back, I called a vet out. The vet gave me an injectable antibiotic for 5cc every other day, and he said my horse likely has a liver infection. I tried to research about it online, but I have some up empty-handed so far! Is a live infection pretty serious? Is it a sign that my horse's health is going down? He has been retired from rodeo competition since he was 18 due to mild arthritis, but he has kept his weight up and is sound to trail ride, plenty of energy. This is the first problem I have had from him in the 12 years I have owned him.