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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Breeder,Behaviorist, formerVet Asst
Category: Dog
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Experience:  Former vol Vet Assistant.Breeder 16+ years Dog trainer / behaviorist
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My dog started losing hair , 3 weeks before giving birth and

Customer Question

My dog started losing hair , 3 weeks before giving birth and still losing hair today when her puppies are 6 weeks old. She is in really good shape: she eats a lot ,she seems happy, wants to go out everyday for running but now her head and her knees are kind of half hairless... What I mean is that now we can see her skin and we could'nt before...
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 5 years ago.
Hi Vicky,

It is perfectly normal for a pregnant female to lose quite a lot of hair on their belly and around the breast area in the weeks before delivery. In addition, a female that is nursing can deplete their own nutritional reserves and that can lead to a poor coat and excessive shedding. Many dogs will also blow their coats (shed profusely) after birth as well. So some of the hair loss may be normal. In the future, it is very important to feed a high quality puppy food to mom while pregnant and nursing to ensure that she has the proper nutrition for a mother.

However, hair loss to the point of bald spots is not normal and might indicate a more serious problem. Unfortunately, there are many conditions that can cause a dog to experience hair loss including ringworm, mange, hypothyroidism, cushing disease and allergies.

Ringworm can have a scaly reddish rash around the edges of the bare patches though there can be a rash in the bare area as well. Any over the counter antifungal cream for ringworm will work on this. The cream should be applied to an area slightly larger and for about a week after it appears to have cleared up. There are two types of mange and mange is actually caused by mites. Usually hair loss starts in specific areas of the body before spreading to other areas. Allergies are a frequent cause of scratching and hair loss and an be caused by many different things. Treating any problem without knowing for sure what it is causes a delay in the treatment of the real problem if your first guess is wrong. I really suggest you have your Vet examine the areas and diagnose this. Below are websites that will go into more detail on these conditions.

Here is a website on Ringworm:
http://www.marvistavet.com/html/body_ringworm.html

Here is two on Mange. While demodectic mange usually occurs in pups, it can return in times of stress and pregnancy is stressful.
http://www.marvistavet.com/html/body_demodectic_mange.html
http://www.marvistavet.com/html/body_sarcoptic_mange.html

Hypothyroidism and cushing on these pages:
http://www.petplace.com/dogs/hypothyroidism-in-dogs/page1.aspx
http://www.petplace.com/dogs/hyperadrenocorticism-cushing-s-syndrome-in-dogs/page1.aspx

You can read up on allergies here:
http://www.nhahonline.vetsuite.com/Templates/ContentPages/Articles/ViewArticleContent.aspx?Id=864
http://www.lbah.com/allergy.htm

If you suspect an allergy condition is to blame, you can give your dog Benadryl up to 2mg per pound every 8 hours.

There might be a secondary skin condition in addition to the allergy such as staph dermatitis or yeast dermatitis. Staph usually occurs on the lower regions of your pet and tends to have small pimple type bumps. Shampoo containing Chlorhexiderm and/or Oatmeal can help with this condition though it does not cure the allergy. Yeast typically shows as a greasy area that has a sweet musty odor. Sometimes the skin can become inflamed, darker and thickened due to itching. Yeast likes areas such as between toes, armpits and ears. Selsun Blue Shampoo can help with Yeast dermatitis. When shampooing, lather and leave on 15 minutes before rinsing. These shampoos are not meant to be a cure, just a relief until your pet can see a Vet.

There is also a condition called alopecia which is basically hair loss. You can read all about it in this article:
http://www.dvmnewsmagazine.com/dvm/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=7250

Some treatment methods for this are discussed on the following site. You might want to discuss this possibility with your vet.
http://www.vin.com/proceedings/Proceedings.plx?CID=WSAVA2004&PID=8629&O=Generic

With the pups 6 weeks old, they are due for a vet visit and vaccinations. I'd go ahead and take mom in at the same time and have your vet take a look at this.

I hope this information is helpful.

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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler
Dog Behaviorist/Trainer/Breeder/Health
14169 Satisfied Customers
Former vol Vet Assistant.Breeder 16+ years Dog trainer / behaviorist