A dog’s skin and coat are good indicators of their health. But if your pup is experiencing hair loss and bald patches, what should you do?
Take a close look at their nutrition.
As it turns out, vitamin deficiency can be the root cause of hair loss in dogs. Here’s what you need to know if your fur friend is losing their fur.
What Causes Hair Loss in Dogs?
Whether it’s long silky fur or a smooth shiny coat, the condition of your dog’s hair or fur is a good indication of their overall health. So when a dog starts losing fur, it’s understandable to be concerned.
But it’s important to note that there’s a difference between hair loss in dogs and shedding.
Shedding fur is totally normal. In fact, it’s necessary as it gets rid of old, damaged hair. Most dogs shed year-round, while some breeds shed the most during the spring and fall months.
But hair loss is a different story. If you’ve noticed your dog’s hair is thinning, even to the point of baldness, visit your veterinarian to rule out any serious health problems. They’ll do an examination and look for the following:
- Hair loss around eyes and mouth
- Patches of complete hair loss
- Foul odor
- Black or dark gray skin under hair loss
- Dry, scaly skin or red, inflamed skin
- Bleeding around area of hair loss
Your vet will determine if there is an underlying cause such as allergies, ringworm, mites, or an infection. Scratching bug bites, mange, and hot spots can also cause hair loss. And some pups will even lose their fur due to anxious chewing or licking.
With the proper treatment plan, all of these health problems can be resolved.
However, your dog’s hair loss is often related to their nutrition.
Dog Hair Loss: Why Nutrition Matters
Dietary imbalance can be the true source of thinning fur. Most pet parents take great care when choosing the best diet for their fur family, whether that be raw food or dry kibble.
Unfortunately, many dog foods don’t provide all the nutrients your pup needs. Often, commercial foods are carb-heavy and cooked at extremely high vitamin-destroying temperatures, meaning your pup loses out on the protein and vitamins they need for a healthy coat.
A lack of protein can have a major impact on your pup’s skin and coat. One study stated that since hair is 95% protein, hair growth can use around 25% to 30% of your dog’s daily protein requirement!
Certified dog nutritionist, Hannah Zulueta, had this to say, “Protein builds protein. Dogs are being fed kibble made from plant-based proteins, so without the right animal proteins they start experiencing dry, brittle fur.” This can eventually progress to hair loss.
On the other hand, some paw-rents choose raw diets for their dogs, yet fail to give their pets supplements to ensure they get the essential vitamins and minerals.
But which vitamin deficiencies specifically contribute to hair loss in dogs?
Which Vitamin Deficiencies Cause Hair Loss in Dogs?
Dogs experiencing hair loss often suffer from deficiencies in key nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc. These deficiencies can manifest as scaly, dry patches of skin and result in fur or hair loss, as well as potential infection. By addressing these nutritional imbalances, you can help your dog restore a healthy and lustrous coat.
Vitamin A, also known as retinol, is an essential vitamin for your dog’s health. It plays a role in nearly every organ system in your dog’s body at every stage of their life. It supports strong night vision, the immune system, and even the nervous system.
Without adequate levels of vitamin A, your dog can also experience hair loss and dry skin. vitamin A deficiency can manifest as scaly, hairless patches of skin. And if not addressed, these patches can eventually turn into sores that become infected.
Vitamin E has amazing anti-oxidant properties. It keeps the immune system working properly and does wonders for your dog’s skin and coat.
But when vitamin E levels are lacking, hair loss and skin problems can be the result. Thankfully, vitamin E deficiency is rare, as most dogs get what they need from their food. If your dog is on a homemade diet, there’s a chance they are not getting balanced amounts of vitamin E to keep their skin healthy.
Your veterinarian can run blood tests to determine if your pup is deficient.
While a true vitamin E deficiency may not be the cause of your pup’s hair loss, your veterinarian may recommend topical vitamin E to help your dog’s hair loss or other skin problems.
In fact, a 2014 study showed that vitamin E helped alleviate the symptoms of atopic dermatitis (an inflammatory skin disease) in dogs.
Omega-3 fish oil is one of the best things you can give your dog for their overall health. All dogs need a healthy balance of these good fats since they are the building blocks for good health.
And when it comes to your pup’s skin and coat, it works wonders.
While there isn’t one specific symptom to indicate that your dog is deficient in omega-3, hair loss, obesity, and muscle weakness can all be signs your dog needs this important nutrient.
Dogs can’t produce omega-3 on their own. And most dog foods (even raw diets) don’t provide adequate quantities. So it’s important to choose a natural supplement made from wild-caught fatty fish.
As with most natural supplements, it may take several weeks to see results. When taken regularly, omega-3 can prevent hair loss and restore the luster and shine to your pup’s coat.
Zinc is an essential mineral for your dog. It has a host of benefits including supporting cognitive function and immune health. But it also supports healthy skin and coats.
So if you’ve noticed hair loss in your dog, zinc deficiency could be the cause. According to Hannah, “The telltale sign is that dogs will start to lose fur around their eyes. They may also have hardening on the elbows and the nose.”
Dogs need consistent levels of zinc from their diets and supplements to stay healthy.
Here at Pawsomely Healthy, we love including green-lipped mussels in our dogs’ diets. This powerhouse ingredient is naturally rich in zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients like natural proteins, glucosamine, and magnesium.
Best of all, it’s a bioavailable ingredient. So you can rest assured that your dog will absorb all the zinc they need to prevent hair loss.
Thankfully, if zinc deficiency is at the core of your dog’s hair loss, once your pup begins to receive the right amounts of zinc, their skin and fur issues will clear up quickly.
The Final Woof
There are several reasons why dogs may have problems with hair loss. Your veterinarian should do a full exam to rule out any serious health problems.
With a balanced diet and the addition of bioavailable supplements, your dog can get all the nutrients they need to solve their hair loss problems!
Still curious about which vitamins and supplements are best for your fur friend? Take our free quiz.