Don't get worked up yet. Alopecia simply means hair loss. So this article isn't about effective technical terms that are over your head. Also, it's important to state, from the beginning, that seasonal alopecia in dogs is not especially harmful. It only causes irritation and disfigurement that hair loss causes to canines.
It is common in young adult Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, Boxers, Schnauzers, Airedales, and Seasonal Alopecia. It is also often referred to as canine flank alopecia, cyclic flank alopecia and recurrent flank alopecia. Sadly, many dog owners do not understand the condition.
This article will consider how you can treat the condition. It will also explore some suggestions for prevention. It will also mention products that may help keep your pet's hair glowing and always in full bloom, season in, season out!
What is Seasonal Alopecia?
We don't want this article to sound too scientific, so we would avoid attempting technical terminologies and definitions. But we'll try a straightforward explanation of seasonal alopecia.
Seasonal alopecia is purely a skin condition that causes hair losses on the flanks of dogs. It rarely goes beyond that as it is not known to cause any other infection in dogs. The area of hair loss shows a dark pigmentation. But the greatest danger of the condition is that the affected parts are naturally at greater risk of other kinds of infection, so it is not entirely unusual to see these parts mildly infected one way or the other.
For most dogs, the condition becomes noticeable from early adulthood, and unless it is treated, it may continue with the dog throughout its life.
Naturally, the hair grows back, but the seasonal nature of the condition means the hair loss would recur during the next season. However, as observed in some cases, the hair grows back with a slightly different color. It may not even regrow again in extreme instances, especially if the condition has reoccurred consistently for many seasons.
Although there is no specific season when this condition affects dogs, it affects most dogs during the winter season.
Once you notice a pigmented bald spot on your dog, not just around the flanks, you should immediately suspect seasonal alopecia.
What Are The Causes?
Interestingly, the main causes of this condition on dogs are not yet known; however, it is thought to be a genetic condition in certain dogs, especially Boxer dogs. A school of thought believes the condition is related to the variation in light exposure to certain glands on the skin. Scientists believe the situation is primarily the response of hair follicles to the effect of varying light on it
This is thought to be the main reason the condition is more noticeable in dogs during seasons when there is shorter availability of light.
Seasonal alopecia is also known to be common with dogs of ages 3 to 4.
All dogs are at risk of this condition, so it is necessary to pay attention to your pet to know when to take action.
Symptoms to watch out for
There are specific symptoms to look out for if you're suspecting seasonal alopecia in your dog(s).
Here are some of them:
- Hair loss on the flanks. This is the most visible symptom.
- Darkened exposed skin. The exposed part of the skin is darkened
- Loss of hair is noticeable on both sides
However, these symptoms do not affect the dog in any way, so if your pet is showing signs of infirmities and general weaknesses, you may be dealing with something different entirely.
These symptoms are common on the skin. Seasonal alopecia doesn't affect any other part of the dog's body.
It should also be noted that not all skin infections are due to seasonal alopecia. Some conditions that may result in skin problems for dogs include bacterial Demodex, ringworm or hypothyroidism. If the symptoms are beyond what we highlighted above, you may need medical intervention.
But if you're dealing with seasonal alopecia, here's how to deal with it.
Treating Seasonal Alopecia
Before attempting to treat seasonal alopecia, you should remember that it is a condition that is purely cosmetic, so it is not harmful to the dogs and maybe left untreated. However, it is best to treat repeated occurrences that may lead to permanent hair loss. But even in extreme cases, and the hair loss becomes permanent around the flanks of the dog, it doesn't affect your pet's health in any way.
The easiest way would be to induce hair growth through Melatonin. Melatonin is a naturally occurring biochemical which helps to regulate hair growth and has worked on many infected canines.
While hair lost due to seasonal alopecia would naturally regrow with time, Melatonin can help regenerate the hair faster or even prevent the infection altogether. The treatment should start a few months before the anticipated infection season.
The latest technique in melatonin treatment involves the implantation of the chemical in the form of chips under the dog's skin. If the treatment works and the hair is restored, the implantation may then be done in anticipation of the infection to prevent the disease. No side effects have been observed with this method beyond mild drowsiness for a short period.
Another option is the use of coconut oil. Coconut oils contain substances that help regenerate lost hair, even in humans. When coconut oil is added to dogs' meals suffering from seasonal alopecia, the hair loss would likely be reversed in a few days.
Preventing Seasonal Alopecia
It is almost impossible to prevent seasonal alopecia. However, if dogs' condition is ever noticed, you can easily anticipate the infection and start the treatment ahead of time. Adding coconut oil to your dog's meals could also be a great idea. However, your dog would remain fine even if you do nothing about it.
Dealing with seasonal alopecia is not complicated at all. All it would take is a little of your time, and you could keep your pet's hair full all year round!