What Are the Causes of Premature Gray Hair in Dogs?

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Close-up of dog with grey hairs.
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If your dog's fur appears to be prematurely gray, don't give yourself gray hairs worrying about it. Just as in humans, some dogs go gray earlier than others. It's a good idea to take your dog to the vet anytime you are concerned about changes in her appearance. Premature gray hairs are usually nothing to worry about, but they could be a sign of an underlying medical condition that may need attention.


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The Aging Process

Most dogs begin to show signs of age around the time they are 7 years old. Their muzzles and eyebrows may become bushier and begin to gray. Though gray hair on a young dog can be natural, irritability, skin discoloration or other signs of premature aging could be a reason for a veterinary checkup.


Hypothyroidism and Cushing's Disease

Premature graying of the muzzle in dogs can be a sign of hypothyroidism, which is too little thyroid hormone, or Cushing's disease, which is too much cortisol hormone. Symptoms of hypothyroidism in dogs include excessive shedding, loss of hair or a dull, dry coat. Dogs with Cushing's disease may have excessive hair loss on their trunk, an increase in thirst, appetite and urination or develop a pot belly. If your young dog exhibits any of these symptoms, take her to your veterinarian. A physical examination and blood work can help to diagnose either of these treatable conditions.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.