Treatment and Prognosis of Alopecia in Dogs
Alopecia is usually a sign of an underlying disorder, which must be diagnosed accurately in order for effective treatment to begin. If the hair loss is accompanied by scratching, pustules, hot spots or other lesions, it may be appropriate to apply topical medications to manage and hopefully alleviate the discomfort caused by these conditions even before the actual cause of the alopecia is determined. The veterinarian may prescribe ointments, creams, lotions, shampoos or other soothing treatments to calm any inflammation associated with alopecia. She also may recommend oral or topical antibiotics, antihistamines and/or anti-inflammatories as part of an initial treatment regimen.
There are a number of topical medications to treat alopecia caused by external parasites. Flea and tick control, and shampoos or other products that kill mites, lice or fungi, are generally quite effective in resolving parasitic alopecia, although it can take weeks to months for the hair to grow back completely.
Alopecia Due to Endocrine Disorders or Hormonal Imbalance
Alopecia caused by endocrine or hormonal abnormalities is managed by treating the underlying disorders. For example, alopecia associated with hyperthyroidism or pituitary dwarfism can be treated with lifelong hormone replacement medication. Spaying and neutering can be successful treatments for hair loss caused by certain other hormonal imbalances, or even stress.
There are a number of treatment options for alopecia caused by immune-mediated reactions. These include medicated shampoos, topical and oral anti-inflammatories and antihistamines, and corticosteroid therapy. Of course, if a veterinarian can identify the cause of the reaction and remove the allergen from the dog’s environment, allergic alopecia should resolve in short order.
Essential fatty-acids, Vitamin D, and oral melatonin supplementation have been found to be safe and variably effective in stimulating hair regrowth and improving overall coat condition in dogs.
The prognosis for recovery from alopecia is good in most cases, if the underlying cause of hair loss is identified and treated. If the skin has suffered extensive scarring, hair regrowth will be more limited.