Hair loss is always a concerning issue, in humans as well as in dogs.
Balding in humans is mostly linked to age when hair follicles shrink or even die, causing the hair to fall out.
While canines don’t experience balding due to age as humans do, it is possible that your dog starts to lose hair around the eyes, chest, neck, or behind the ears.
If your dog experiences hair loss in various spots, it’s called canine alopecia.1
Dogs that are only losing hair around the eyes can suffer from various conditions that might sound scary at first.
Most of the time, the hair will regrow once the underlying cause has been treated.
But how exactly do you prevent your dog from hair loss around the eyes?
If your dog loses hair around the eyes, the possible reasons are not limited to underlying diseases but also infections like mites, fleas, or ringworm. Other options include environmental or food allergies.
How Can I Treat My Dog’s Hair Loss?
Balding spots most commonly occur due to a dog’s constant scratching, maybe to satisfy an itching spot.
This scratching may not seem like a problem but those strong nails can easily cause self-inflicted cuts and open wounds which are magnets for bacteria.
Secondary infections and further complications need to be avoided by thoroughly examining your dog’s eyes and other symptoms.
The sooner you visit the vet, the better his chances of healing will be.
Stopping the scratching wouldn’t be too difficult (check out cones, for example).
Now, what about other causes and how to treat them?
Well, it depends.
In general, the treatment will vary greatly depending on your dog’s disease and its severity.
In the following list, I will describe the possible reasons for your dog’s hair loss one by one and how they can be treated.
Keep in mind that hair loss around the eyes takes time to fully regrow.
It’s not a disease in itself and symptoms could indicate more severe underlying conditions that will definitely need to be examined by a veterinarian.
To prevent a lot of these issues that can occur due to malnutrition, a healthy diet can definitely help.
Everyone with allergies can probably sing a song about all the annoying symptoms that come with it.
But you are not the only one that is sneezing, rubbing, and itching.
Your canine companion can also suffer from various types of allergies including:
- Allergic reactions to food
Dogs, just like us, have mucous membranes around the eyes, nose, and mouth that are highly sensitive to allergens.
If they come in contact with those environmental triggers, they start producing more mucus leading to swelling, redness, and itching.
If you have come back home from a walk and your dog is constantly rubbing his eyes with his paws or on the carpet, he might be suffering from allergies.
This movement is what causes the hair to eventually fall out due to the constant abrasion.
Your pup’s eyes might appear red, watery, and swollen.
He will scratch, bite, and lick various parts of his body.
It’s possible for allergies to worsen during different times of the year.
There are several types of treatments that can help with seasonal allergies such as allergy shots or antihistamines.
Breeds like the German Shepherd, Pug, Labrador Retriever, or French Bulldog are more prone to suffer from pollen allergy while females are more affected than males.
Allergies can occur at any age.
You should definitely consult a veterinarian concerning the allergy but a few home remedies might help with your dog’s allergy symptoms.
Possible cures (or more like prevention):
- Rub your dog’s fur and paws with a damp towel after walks to get rid of pollen and dander
- If your dog suffers from irritated skin, use a shampoo approved by your vet
- Regularly brush your dog’s fur
- Use a mixture of aloe vera and oatmeal for additional protection
- Natural remedies like coconut and fish oil can lower your dog’s inflammatory response.
Keep in mind that there are many home remedies and natural treatments out there, not all of them work but some of them might be worth a try, assuming your vet approves.
A foreign object that has penetrated your dog’s eye can cause bleeding, swelling, and pain.
Your dog might be pawing at the eye, rubbing his face on the ground, and squinting frequently.
Excessive facial rubbing can lead to bald spots around the eyes and further damage to the broken tissue.
Try flushing it out with a saline solution and if that doesn’t help, take your dog to the vet immediately to avoid complications.
Do not use your fingers or tweezers to remove the foreign object.
Demodicosis (Demodex Mange)
Every healthy dog hosts small colonies of mites on his body, called Demodex canis.
Demodicosis or Demodex mange is caused by an overpopulation of these mites.
At the thought of so many parasites on your body, you probably start itching and sadly, that condition can be very itchy, especially if there’s a secondary infection.
It usually causes scaling and hair loss around the eyes and other parts of your dog’s body as the population begins to spread.
The disease can be localized to one area of the body (i.e. around the eyes) or generalized.
In severe cases, your dog might experience symptoms like enlarged lymph nodes, secondary skin infections, and pain.
While some breeds like the American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and Chinese Shar Pei are more susceptible to developing mange, every dog with a weakened immune system could suffer from this condition.
- While this condition sounds terrifying, most cases in puppyhood actually resolve on their own
- Miticidal therapy is necessary in cases of generalized demodicosis
- Antibiotics are used to treat any secondary infections
Demodectic mange isn’t contagious to humans or other animals because every species has its own unique colony but the mites can be passed from dog to dog.
However, mite overgrowth and progressive disease do not occur, therefore demodectic mange is not considered to be contagious among dogs.
Glaucoma describes the build-up of fluid in the canine eye and is sometimes associated with a cloudy cornea.
If too little fluid is drained, pressure is created and the retina and optic nerve will be damaged which eventually leads to blindness.
This defect in drainage can be caused by anatomic malformation (primary glaucoma), tumors, uveitis, or chronic retinal detachment.
It’s a really painful condition that comes with lots of redness, tearing, and rubbing on the floor which could lead to hair loss around the eyes.
It may affect one or both eyes depending on the underlying cause.
Breeds with a predisposition to developing glaucoma include the Dalmatian, Siberian Husky, and toy and miniature Poodles.
Is there a cure?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for primary glaucoma which is inherited but treatment can be used to manage the condition.
Secondary glaucoma can sometimes be cured depending on the underlying cause if glaucoma didn’t go undetected for a long time.
Treatment depends on the responsible cause and may include medication or surgery.
Early detection is essential to keep your dog from losing his eyes.
Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the eye’s lining and tissue.
It can lead to redness, itching, watery eyes, and puffy eyelids.
Your dog is losing hair around the eyes because he’s probably pawing his head constantly in an effort to relieve the pruritus.
A thorough examination will determine which type of conjunctivitis your dog is suffering from.
The most common types are:
- Allergic (not contagious)2
- Bacterial (very contagious)
- Viral conjunctivitis (very contagious)
An allergic reaction can be treated with eye drops and cold compresses.
The trigger must be found to successfully suppress the unique allergic reactions to mites, pollen, or perfumes.
Bacteria like Staphylococcus are best combated with antibiotics.
A virus needs time to get better and symptoms should subside with eye drops and other medication.
This is a very uncomfortable skin condition that is very similar to human dermatitis. Common symptoms include:
- Flaky skin
- Hair loss around affected areas
- Excessive scratching
You may notice your dog rubbing his whole body against the walls or waking up in the middle of the night to scratch the itch.
Atopic dermatitis is associated with food and environmental allergens (i.e. pollen or dust).3
Your dog’s immune system may react aggressively to everyday items such as laundry detergent, cleaners, or perfumes.
The cure is actually very simple.
Contact allergies can be stopped by simply removing the products.
Your dog’s diet plays a huge role in supporting a healthy immune system and ruling out food-related allergies for which the treatment would usually include an elimination diet.
Ringworm (actually not a worm) is a highly contagious fungal infection that may include hair loss around the eyes.
This issue causes hair loss, scaling, and crusting that can be localized, especially to the head, or generalized.
It may be accompanied by redness, lesions, and itching.
The fungus lives in the skin and hair follicles and spreads to other animals through direct contact.
Ringworms can be passed on to humans so be careful when petting your dog.
Spores get carried on your pet’s fur and can fall everywhere and contaminate furniture, clothing, and carpets.
They can remain viable for over a year in those areas.
Decontamination through regular cleaning and vacuuming is necessary to get rid of all the hair.
How to treat ringworms:
Topical therapy (ointments or shampoo) and oral antifungal medications will fully stop this infestation and the hair should regrow to its original form and density.
Beware, just because your dog is cured of the symptoms doesn’t mean that the ringworm is defeated.
Your vet will want to take a look to confirm successful treatment.
You may have spotted tiny black specks on your dog’s coat and now fear that your dog is infested with fleas.
Those spots could be flea dirt which mostly consists of your pet’s blood.
Collect them with a flea comb and search for 1-2 mm long, dark brown fleas.
To find out whether or not your dog has fleas, take a damp tissue paper, and put the specks on it.
If they stay black or grey, he probably just rolled in some dirt outside but if they turn red, they presumably contain blood.
Apart from the constant scratching and over-grooming, your dog may actually develop an allergy to flea saliva which contains histamine-like substances that are transferred into the body when it bites.
You may find some fleas around the neck, ears, tail, and thighs.
Although the eyes are not a primary biting spot, a possible infection may travel around the face.
A flea infestation can be combated with flea prevention from your veterinarian. You’ll also need to take steps to remove fleas from the environment, such as vacuuming carpets and washing bedding.
Fungus, mites, ticks, fleas, and bacteria can cause infections that eventually lead to hair loss around the eyes and other parts of your dog’s body.
If you notice any red spots that itch and are painful, your dog may suffer from an infection that could either develop from the pest itself or emerge from bacteria that has entered your dog’s scratch wounds.
Small infections may heal on their own but you should always rule out greater infestations or other underlying causes.
Untreated skin infections can lead to fever, lethargy, itching, and pain.
Recommended Reading: Do dogs have eyelashes or eyebrows?
- National Library of Medicine, 2018: Alopecia Areata in a Dog: Clinical, Dermoscopic and Histological Features ↩︎
- National Library of Medicine, 2023: Diagnostic approach and grading scheme for canine allergic conjunctivitis ↩︎
- National Library of Medicine, 2010: A prospective study on the clinical features of chronic canine atopic dermatitis and its diagnosis ↩︎