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Caring for a senior dog: preventing and addressing hair loss

Is your senior dog losing her hair or have bald spots in her body?

Caring for a senior dog: preventing and addressing hair loss
Louise, a shih tzu who is now 10 years old, has never had a skin problem. She is given vitamin E once a week and  3 ml of multivitamins once a day in her  boiled vegetables (allowed for dogs) with a small amount of beef or pork (no fat) mixed with a small amount of dog food that she has been used to since she was young.  It is not advised to switch brands (of dog food) when the dog gets older.
This may be due to aging or a medical condition that affect her more now than when she was younger, Phyllis Benson said in Hair Loss in an Older Dog. 

“By treating the reason, you can often manage her hair loss,” Benson said.

Aging and Hair Loss

If hair loss is due to aging, the hair will not grow back easily and the dog may have bald spots.

“Her graying hair and dry skin are signs of reduced cell activity. Her hair is more sparse, easily damaged and brittle,” Benson said.

Some dogs who were fed food scraps with soy sauce, fish sauce and preservatives develop mange (galis) or excessive scratching years later, some starting at  nine (9) years of age based on the observation of the animal welfare group Save ALL Inc. - Save Animals fo Love and Light among dogs of some humans who have asked for help from them.

Benson suggested changing the food and adding supplements which provide nutrients for aging skin and hair, aside from ensuring the dog’s overall health.

Save ALL noted that some dogs are allergic to chicken, while some develop itchiness after changing the food from chicken to beef. It is best to always monitor your dogs, and keep tabs of what you give them.

Please bring your dog to the vet and consult him/her regarding the best food for senior dogs with such a condition.

“Your vet may recommend more dietary protein and cutting back on grains and carbohydrates. Canned or wet food adds moisture to her digestive system so her body better handles and absorbs the nutrients important to healthy skin and coat,” Benson said.

Allergic Dermatitis

As time passes, a dog can easily be affected by allergens such as pollen, dust, mold, chemicals and other irritants.

“The first time she is bitten by a flea, for example, she may have no reaction. Over the years, her immune system responds more aggressively to each exposure until one flea can cause frantic itching and inflamed skin or dermatitis. As her biting and scratching become more severe, she damages her skin and rips out hair, exposing herself to infection. Reducing exposure to allergens and treating symptoms ease her itching and reduce hair loss. Vet-approved antihistamines or supplements such as fatty acids, vitamin E and other skin nutrients help some older dogs regain their hair,” Benson said.

Please consult your vet before giving any antihistamine or introducing new supplements and food.

Hormonal Hair Loss

A senior dog is also affected by hormonal changes that affect her coat.

“Hormones are produced by glands in the body, and when the glands malfunction, the hormones are out of whack and affect everything from your dog’s temperament her overall health. Older dogs are especially vulnerable to these hormone problems such as hypothyroidism, a disorder when the body does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Your dog may gain weight, be lethargic and lose her hair, “ Benson said.

Caring for a senior dog: preventing and addressing hair loss
It is advised to bathe your dog once a week to prevent skin diseases and to make your dog feel comfortable. But do not bathe your dog when the weather is too cold. It is also advised that dogs be groomed regularly. Keep the hair long but  comb the hair always during the cold season to help them protect themselves form the cold weather. Cut the hair short during the hot months to help prevent heat stroke.
He added: “In Cushing’s disease, your dog’s body produces too much cortisol hormone. Common symptoms are hair loss, constant thirst and hunger. With your vet’s help, these and other hormonal problems can usually be treated to restore your dog’s health and hair.” (DC)

To be continued next week.

Topics: Save Animals fo Love and Light , Phyllis Benson , senior dog , Allergic Dermatitis
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