We took him to the vet three weeks ago and they did a skin scrape. The vet said he was 98 percent sure it wasn’t mange, but he couldn’t tell us exactly what the problem is. He gave us a special shampoo but Mutt’s still getting small bald spots.
What are the reasons he could be balding? We have no other dogs and adopted him when he was 3 months old. He is a little over 30 pounds and has no other health or temperament issues.
– Jessica, California
Infectious causes are the most common reason for hair loss in young dogs. These include mange mites (demodex and scabies) and fungal infections (ringworm). Other causes such as allergic skin diseases, hormonal diseases and autoimmune diseases are not as common in younger dogs.
Some mange mites are difficult to find even with a skin scraping, so we can never be 100 percent sure a dog does not have mites even with a thorough scraping. Often, multiple deep scrapings are performed to rule out mange mites, and sometimes for suspicious cases an injection of an anti-mite treatment is attempted to see if there is a response. In addition, there are some topical flea control medications which can be effective against mange mites and can be tried before performing
more invasive diagnostic tests.
Ringworm also causes hair loss with often very little changes in the skin. Some types of ringworm will fluoresce a bright, apple-green color under a black light that your veterinarian can examine in the office. However, not all forms of ringworm will fluoresce so a fungal culture is often performed to confirm the diagnosis. This test involves plucking the hairs and growing them in a culture tube for 2–3 weeks.
In the most challenging cases, where the hair continues to fall out and no underlying cause can be identified, a biopsy of the affected skin can be taken to try to identify the reason for the hair loss.
PHOTOS: dailypuppy.com, factoidz.com