Hair loss is always a concerning issue, in humans as well as in dogs. Balding is mostly linked to age when hair follicles shrink or even die, causing the hair to fall out.
But canines normally don’t start to lose hair around the eyes first but rather on the chest, behind the ears, or under the neck. If your dog experiences hair loss in various spots, it’s called canine alopecia.
Dogs that are only loosing 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 ringworms. 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 with prevention. Check out my article on the raw diet for more.
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 typical for allergies to worsen during different times of the year. There are several types of treatments that can help with season 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 probably won’t occur before the age of 1 year.
You should definitely consult a veterinarian concerning the allergy but a few home remedies will definitely help with your dog’s allergy symptoms.
Possible cures (or more like prevention):
- Protect your dog’s coat with a mixture of aloe vera and oatmeal that you can spray on him before going outside.
- When coming back home from a walk, rub your dog’s fur and paws with a damp towel to get rid of pollen and dander.
- If your dog suffers from irritated skin, bathe him with the Pro Pet Works Hypoallergenic Shampoo.
- Regularly brush your dog’s fur.
- Natural remedies like coconut and fish oil can lower your dog’s inflammatory response.
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 and leads to a strong immune reaction.
At the thought of so many parasites on your body, you probably start scratching but the condition actually isn’t itchy. But it will definitely cause scaling and hair loss around the eyes and other parts of your dog’s body as the population begins to spread.
It commonly starts around the eyes and then wanders to the mouth, forelimbs and paws.
In severe cases, your dog might experience symptoms like enlarged lymph nodes, skin infections and pain.
While some breeds like the Pug, Doberman, Great Dane, and American Staffordshire Terrier are more susceptible to develop mange, every dog with an underlying disease, weakened immune system, or malnutrition could suffer from this condition.
- While this condition sounds terrifying, most cases in puppyhood actually resolve on their own.
- Insecticide ointments can help to decrease the population.
- 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 they can be passed from dog to dog.
Glaucoma describes the build-up of fluid in the canine eye and is characterized by a cloudy cornea.
If too much fluid is built or too little is drained, pressure is created and the retina and optic nerve will be damaged which eventually leads to blindness.
This excess fluid can be caused by inherited genes (primary glaucoma), tumors, infections 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 commonly starts in one eye and then affects the other eye as the dog ages.
Breeds with a predisposition to developing glaucoma include the Dalmatian, Great Dane, Siberian Husky, and Poodle.
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 be cured 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.
Cyclocryotherapy is a treatment method that uses cold temperatures to kill fluid producing cells. This can slow down the nerve-damaging process to preserve your dog’s vision longer.
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)
- 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.
Bacterias like the streptococcus are best combatted with antibiotics.
If your dog has a sore throat or breathing problems, that could indicate a cold. A virus needs time to get better and symptoms should be lowered 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
The armpits, groin and eyes are typically the most affected areas. 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.
Dermatitis is caused by different environmental allergies like food or flea allergies.
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 suppressing allergy symptoms and you should remove any chemicals, fillers, and gluten from his meal plan.
Food allergies can only be treated by an elimination diet.
The most common dog food allergens are dairy, beef, and chicken. If your dog reacts allergic to one food, he will probably be allergic to several other ingredients that need to be removed from his diet.
Ringworm (actually not a worm) is a highly contagious fungal infection that usually starts with circular hair loss around the eyes. 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 tamp white 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 that is transferred into the body when it bites.
You will probably 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 combatted with topical powders, sprays, and spot-ons. You can also support the chosen treatment method with coconut oil and diatomaceous earth.
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 infections can lead to fever, lethargy, vomiting, and kidney inflammation.
Recommended Reading: Do dogs have eyelashes or eyebrows?
Disclaimer: This blog post doesn’t substitute veterinary attention and does not intend to do so. If your dog shows any signs of illness, call your vet immediately.
- Alopecia Areata in a Dog: Clinical, Dermoscopic and Histological Features
- A prospective study on the clinical features of chronic canine atopic dermatitis and its diagnosis
- Clinical management of conjunctivitis in dogs : a case study