Hair Loss in a Boxer: Why Did Molly Start Going Bald?

What does it mean when your dog starts losing hair? What are the causes of hair loss in dogs?

Shedding is when your dog loses old undercoat. Depending on the breed, it can be a lot of fur. Hair loss, however, is when your dog’s hair starts falling out, leaving bald areas.

Hair Loss in a Boxer: Why Did Molly Start Going Bald?

Molly’s story

Molly was a young and healthy young Boxer. Her eyes were bright and coat shiny. But then Molly started developing bald patches. The hairless areas were irregular, on both sides of her torso. It wasn’t itchy or bothering Molly in any way. And other than that, there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with Molly.

But her hair loss was so dramatic that it brought her to a veterinary clinic. Molly’s mom was worried. Is Molly ill? Is her diet not good?

At the vet

Skin and coat are a window to the internal health.

The main concern with balding animals is that the loss of hair can be an outward indication of a more serious internal problem.

Pete the Vet

There is a reason for everything, including hair loss. Potential causes of hair loss in dogs include:

  • mange
  • other parasites
  • bacterial or fungal infections
  • immune disease
  • endocrine disorders

Because Molly was not itchy, her veterinarian was able to rule out some of these right away. The skin in the bald areas wasn’t infected, inflamed or discolored.

All that pointed to hormonal imbalances. That doesn’t make an accurate diagnosis exactly easy, but it gives a direction in which to look.

The diagnosis

Every diagnosis ought to start with a thorough history, including lifestyle and habits. Careful physical examination and lab work follows. Laboratory tests can include blood work and skin biopsies. The bottom line is that you cannot successfully treat a problem if you don’t identify it first.

Seasonal flank alopecia?

Seasonal flank alopecia is a symmetrical hair loss in the flank area that occurs–you guessed it–seasonally. It doesn’t need to be the same time of the year for every dog but fall and spring are most common. Usually, the skin in the bald areas also darkens.

The most susceptible breeds include Airedales, English Bulldogs, and, of course, Boxers.

Source: Veterinary Partner

Jasmine once had a mysterious bald spot which was eluding her veterinarian until we tried treatment with Melatonin. Whether it was true seasonal flank alopecia or something else, Jasmine’s hair grew right back when we started the supplement.

Is that what Molly had?

Molly’s hair loss seemed more severe than one would expect for this condition. Further, to arrive at this diagnosis, it is important to rule out other potential causes.

Molly seemed to be a fit, healthy dog. She was eating, drinking, and eliminating normally. One thing the veterinarian got from Molly’s history, though, was that Molly seemed kind of lazy–less active than she used to be.

Physical examination revealed that Molly’s skin felt cooler than it should and her temperature was lower than normal. Her heart rate was a bit slower too.

Can you see where this is going?

Routine blood work looked mostly normal. A specialized test, though, revealed the answer. Molly had hypothyroidism.

The biggest problem with hypothyroidism in dogs is getting it diagnosed. Treatment is simple and effective.

After Molly began her thyroid replacement therapy, everything returned to normal and her fur grew back.

Related articles:
Hair Loss (Alopecia) in Dogs: Why Is My Dog Losing Hair?

Original story:
Molly, a four-year-old female Boxer who had bald patches along both sides of her back

Categories: ConditionsDog health advocacyHair lossHypothyroidismReal-life StoriesSymptoms

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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