Save for a few specific breeds, like Peruvian Inca or Chinese Crested dogs, most dogs have a solid coat of fur covering nearly every inch of their bodies. Over time, thanks to aging or due to disorders like Cushing's disease, some dogs can experience hair loss or hair thinning. Sometimes, a dog may appear to have little or no hair on her face. If you notice hair loss on your dog's snout, particularly around her nose or mouth, you'll definitely want to treat the issue, but first you'll need to identify the exact cause.
Common reasons for hair loss
A dog losing hair around the mouth or nose area should be watched closely, but sometimes, the cause of the hair loss isn't attributed to a serious condition. One reason dogs lose hair, according to Mount Vernon Animal Hospital in Mount Vernon, Ohio, is allergies. Dogs can be allergic to the same types of things that irritate people, such as certain ingredients or proteins in their food, seasonal pollen, dust, bug bites or even dust. If you notice that your dog is scratching at or rubbing his nose or face into the ground at certain times of the year or if he ingests certain foods, you may have allergies to thank.
Another reason a dog may lose hair on his body, including his face, is because of a parasitic infection. Parasites like fleas and mites can lead to incessant itching due to irritation on the skin, which is known as flea allergy dermatitis and can lead to a loss of hair. Some parasites, like ringworm, don't bite the skin but live on it, which is known to cause hair loss. Ringworm is a fungus that feeds on the keratin found in the surface layer of the skin, says VCA Hospitals, and results in hair loss around the affected area, usually in a circular or ring-like shape.
Dog losing fur on nose
If you notice your dog losing hair on the nose area specifically, her condition can be classified as nasal dermatosis, states Merck Veterinary Manual. In addition to the aforementioned causes of hair loss, additional reasons may include immune-mediated diseases like systemic lupus discoid lupus and pemphigus, all of which typically display side-effects like hair loss around the muzzle and sometimes, ulcers. Oftentimes with these disorders you may also notice that a dog's nose is raw, pink and may also lose color altogether before taking on a reddish hue.
Additionally, a dog that loses hair on the bridge of her nose, could be diagnosed as having the condition called nasal solar dermatitis. This type of hair loss occurs when a dog's skin has an adverse reaction to sunlight, resulting in hair loss and sometimes a reddening of the skin in the affected area. Also known as "collie nose," this can sometimes lead to ulcers on the skin of your dog's nose. Nasal solar dermatitis tends to affect dogs that are exposed to sunlight over a period of time — mild forms of the disorder may appear as a sunburn, but chronic nasal solar dermatitis can result in large patches of missing fur, scaly skin and crusted ulcers, according to DVM 360.
Treating alopecia in dogs
In order to effectively treat alopecia, which is the scienfitic name for hair loss, on your dog, you'll first need to identify the cause of the problem, which can be done with the help of a veterinarian, who may need to do a skin scraping to provide a diagnosis. If parasites are the problem, medicated drops for fleas or a medicated cream or pill for worm will usually clear up the problem in a matter of days. For more serious matters, a steroid cream or lotion may be prescribed to treat the condition and avoiding exposure to sunlight and other irritants is recommended.
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.