Unlike humans, dogs don’t generally suffer from male pattern balding. So when a dog starts losing hair, it’s usually a medical issue and cause for concern. So why is your dog losing hair around their eyes?
Dogs losing hair around their eyes can be caused by a variety of issues such as a skin infection, an allergic reaction, a parasitical infection, or even stress. Hair loss does not target a particular breed and can happen to any dog at any age.
We’re going to look in-depth at the various causes of hair loss around the eyes, what may be causing your dog’s hair loss, and what can be done to treat it. Of course, if the hair loss is concerning, we encourage you to seek the advice of your veterinarian.
Potential Causes of Hair Loss Around the Eyes
There are a number of possible causes of hair loss in dogs, and particularly hair loss around their eyes. Fortunately, most can be treated or managed, and once diagnosed, your vet can offer specific treatments.
Environmental Allergies That Cause Hair Loss in Dogs
Dogs are similar to humans in that they can suffer from environmental allergies as well. And many of the same allergens are common to humans and dogs.
There are lots of things that dogs can be allergic to, including pollen, dust, grasses, and their food. Like humans, every individual dog is different, and your dog will only show signs of allergies when it has been exposed to a certain environmental factor multiple times.
This is the same as humans — dogs cannot be allergic to something the first time that they are exposed to it. It is a gradual process.
Hair loss is a common symptom of an allergic reaction, along with frequent itching and red spots. The reason why your dog will suffer from hair loss is because these patches on its face will become very itchy and a target of scratching.
In this case, hair loss is a result of your dog frequently itching their face, whether using their paws or rubbing their face along a carpet or rug.
There are a variety of ways to resolve allergy issues – some methods are straightforward and some are pretty complex. Of course, we would advise that you take your dog to see the veterinarian first before attempting any methods yourself.
But, if you suspect that your dog’s hair loss around their eyes is due to environmental allergies, the standard approach is to try to alleviate the itching in the dog so that they don’t scratch their face. The common treatments include:
- Wiping pollen from your dog’s fur and paws
- Bathing your dog with hypo-allergenic shampoo
- Aloe and oatmeal sprays on your dog’s coat
- Fish oil supplements
- Immunotherapy Injections
If your dog is losing hair around their eyes as a result of scratching the itch on their face, they are likely suffering from other symptoms related to the allergies, including:
- Scabbed, itchy, and red skin.
- Runny eyes.
- Itchy tail and back.
- Snoring due to an inflamed throat.
- Swollen paws.
- Chewing of paws.
Treating the root cause, and even just treating some of the symptoms with topicals, can help alleviate other related symptoms as well.
Parasite Infections That Cause Hair Loss
If you and your dog regularly take walks outdoors, especially in the woods, you need to thoroughly check your dog’s coat afterwards. This is to make sure that your dog has not picked up any kinds of parasitical infections.
This sounds pretty scary, and in some cases it can be – especially because the insects that can cause these infections are by no means exotic. They are insects that can be encountered pretty regularly, such as mites, flies, mange mites, worms, fleas, ticks, and lice.
Similar to the environmental allergy reaction, the common symptoms of your dog having a parasitical infection are hair loss, itchiness and also red rashes. When it comes to parasitical infections, hair loss can occur around the eyes, but this is not necessarily the case for all dogs.
Demodectic mange (also known as red mange or demodex) is a very common mange found on dogs. Microscopic mites live in your dog’s hair follicles and can cause hair loss. It can be found in dogs of all ages, but more often in senior dogs and puppies. This is because senior dogs often have a weakened immune system, and puppies have an immature immune system.
Demodectic mange is usually easily treated if properly diagnosed. It often clears up on its own. Your vet also may encourage you to use certain prescription flea and tick medications, which kill the mange mites. It is not contagious between dogs.
The best solution to this is prevention in the first place. After taking your dog out into the wilderness, keep a close eye on their coat for any insects. Be sure to check hidden spots for parasites, including skin folds, armpits and ears.
If you can’t find any on your dog, but you are concerned that they are showing relevant symptoms, check their bedding as well as their favorite spots for resting around in the house.
Bathing your dog regularly is imperative, especially if you are taking them into areas where parasites are plentiful.
If you believe your dog is suffering from parasitical infection, have a vet examine them and provide appropriate treatment. Infection is nothing to take lightly, and early treatment can make it much easier to kill it quickly.
Bacterial and Fungal Infections That Cause Hair Loss
Bacterial and fungal infections can cause hair loss, too.
Bacterial infections are caused when a dog’s skin has a break or wound in it and bacteria is able to enter it. Left untreated, bacterial infections can worsen and become quite serious. As the tissue around the wound dies, hair loss can occur.
When it comes to treating bacterial infections, antiseptics and antibiotics are the most common methods. Topical antibiotics like Neosporin help kill the bacteria, while keeping the wound clean is imperative. For particularly bad bacterial infections, your vet may prescribe oral antibiotics.
Fungal infections are caused by a fungal growth. Fungal infections often occur in moist areas of the body that don’t have access to sunlight. In humans, athlete’s foot — a skin infection on the foot — is a very common fungal infection.
In dogs, common locations for fungal infections are skin folds that overlap each other. The skin within these folds easily hold moisture and cannot get exposed to sunlight and fresh air so easily.
A type of fungal infection that commonly results in hair loss around the eyes in dogs is ringworm. Even though this is a skin disease that features the word “worm” in it, it does not mean that worms are actually involved. It’s been said that ringworm was given its name because the fungal infection often causes hairless rings around a dog’s eyes, and these rings can continue to grow larger.
To treat fungal infections, there are several topical medication, including sprays, ointments, and shampoos that are commonly used. Your vet will tell you which one is most likely to clear up your dog’s specific issue. Many have the same active ingredient as those intended for humans, but it’s important that you check with your vet first before trying to use one of them on your dog.
With any topical medication, it is important to note that you should supervise your dog and make sure that they do not actually lick the medication. Certain ones can cause adverse effects if ingested, and even if they don’t, your dog licking off the medication may make them less effective.
Intrusion of Foreign Objects That Cause Hair Loss
Like humans, dogs can inadvertently get small objects like dust or dirt in their eyes which irritate them. But unlike humans, they don’t have the ability to look in the mirror, wash their eye with water, or put drops in their eye to clean it out.
They will often roll around frantically and try to scratch their face to get rid of the offending irritant. You might notice your dog’s eyes watering as a reaction to the intrusion of the foreign object. Repeated scratching at this irritation can cause hair loss.
If your dog isn’t able to dislodge the foreign debris on their own in a reasonable amount of time, you or your vet will have to help. Dust or dirt lodged in your dog’s eye can cause your dog a fair amount of irritation and, in some cases, pain.
Start by trying to calm your dog and check their eye for any visible dust.
If it’s something you can clearly see, you can attempt to gently flush it out by pouring room temperature water over the eye. Some suggest using a tweezers to grab the debris, but that often isn’t practical and can endanger the dog by putting sharp metal so close to their eyeball. This would be good time to visit your vet, who is more experienced and capable than you.
And if you are unable to see anything in the eye, that’s reason to have your vet examine the dog. Something else may be causing the irritation.
Inner Eye Problems That Can Cause Hair Loss in Dogs
Inner eye problems can also cause hair loss around dogs’ eyes. Because the problem is on the inner eye, this is not something you can identify or diagnose. Inner eye issues include glaucoma, which is a build up of fluids inside the eyes, or conjunctivitis (commonly known as “pink eye”) which is a form of eye infection. Both of these issues can make your dog scratch their eyes persistently.
If these infections are prolonged, your dog’s constant scratching can lead to hair loss around the eyes. Also, if you leave an eye infection untreated, the eye condition can worsen and develop into worse infection. This can result in further eye damage such as vision loss.
Conjunctivitis is usually treated with antibiotic ointment and/or eye drop medication, while glaucoma involves medication and sometimes surgery, depending on how developed the disease has become.
All of these conditions have hair loss as a symptom, so it can be tricky to differentiate between them and work out what is wrong with your dog on your own. Your vet will be able to diagnose these medical issues and offer appropriate treatment.
Cushing’s Disease as a Cause of Hair Loss
Cushing’s disease is named for the human neurosurgeon (Harvey Cushing) who first described this endocrine disorder in 1912. Dogs who suffer from Cushing’s disease will have a problem with their adrenal glands, which are two smaller glands that are nestled in front of each of their kidneys.
The function of these glands is to produce vital hormones that ensure important bodily functions are regulated, however, Cushing’s disease is where these glands produce too much cortisol.
When too much of a certain hormone is being produced, your dog’s body will become unbalanced. One of the most noticeable symptoms of this disease is that your dog will urinate excessively, but along with this, your dog’s intake of water will have increased pretty drastically.
When too much cortisol is being produced over an elongated period of time, your dog will become a lot weaker through muscle loss. Additionally you may notice that your dog’s skin will thin, and they might also suffer from hair loss.
The areas where they will suffer from hair loss in particular are on their neck, around the rib cage or hip area, or the perineum. Your dog might also pant frequently, or they will have a much more increased appetite than usual, or they might even look pot-bellied.
This disease is more common in senior dogs. Cushing’s disease in dogs can be caused by one of the following: a tumor residing on the pituitary gland (at the base of the brain), a tumor on the adrenal gland, or by an overuse of steroid medications.
It is important to note that Cushing’s disease can be difficult to diagnose in dogs, in fact it requires a lot of complex tests to be able to do this.
Cushing’s disease might not be so severe on your dog. In fact, over 90% of dogs have benign tumors, and these are usually pretty small and do not have a tendency to spread. They might not even end up causing your dog physical or mobility issues.
If your dog has an adrenal tumor, your vet will liekly want to run tests on your dog just to confirm if the tumor is benign or cancerous. Surgery to remove an adrenal tumor could be an option for your dog.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will hair grow back around dogs’ eyes?
If your dog is losing hair around its eyes, it is likely being caused by an underlying issue, as described above. If the underlying issue is treated successfully, the hair loss around the dog’s eyes will generally grow back. If
Should I be worried about my dog losing hair around its eyes?
Hair loss around a dog’s eyes is usually a symptom of something else affecting the dog, so its seriousness depends on what is causing it. If your dog is experiencing hair loss around their eyes, it’s best to get a diagnosis in order to determine how serious the matter is.
How can I keep my dog from scratching at its eyes while waiting for the cause of the irritation to be treated?
You can manage a dog’s persistent scratching at its face by using an Elizabethan collar, a plastic cone that fits around their head. Usually used to prevent a dog from chewing at vulnerable areas of its body such as post-surgery, it can also keep a dog from getting its paws to its face to scratch. It may be a good idea to use an E-collar until you diagnose the cause for the itching and then successfully treat it.