December 27, 2012
Alopecia is the term for hair loss defined as the partial or complete absence of hair from areas of the body where it normally grows. It may refer to hair that is lost where it once was or hair that fails to grow as it should. On our pets, this can occur on the head or anywhere on the body. Loss of hair usually results as a symptom of a larger imbalance.
The root cause of hair loss can be linked to a variety of conditions and imbalances. They may include:
- hormonal imbalances (including thyroid diseases or Cushing’s)
- fungal infections
- immune system imbalance
- injection site reactions
- stress/emotional concerns
- inadequate diet
- parasites (such as mites)
- corticosteroid use
- yeast infection (Malassezia)
- underlying food allergy
- fleabite allergy
- atopy (resulting in scratching and/or biting)
Before choosing an alternative or holistic treatment plan to address your pet’s hair loss, it is best to have your pet checked by a veterinarian. A skin scraping and cytology, fungal culture and biopsy may be needed to determine a cause, or rule out physiological factors that may be contributing to the loss of hair.
What types of foods do holistic vets recommend?
Upgrading the diet to one of nutrient-packed whole foods that are free of chemical preservatives and fillers is a great first step. Avoiding grains can be of help for many dogs. Consider an elimination diet to see if removing common allergy-triggering ingredients improves your dog’s symptoms. The diet should include plenty of high-quality meat protein to help the fur regrow. Avoid high-carb diets for a yeast infection and consider the addition of probiotics to rebalance the levels of yeast in the body and boost the immune system.
Other modalities to consider:
- A rotation of essential fatty acids such as fish, sunflower and flaxseed oil is recommended for dogs. For cats, try evening primrose or fish oil.
- Supplementation with digestive enzymes and/or probiotics is very helpful to improve the balance of the GI tract and boost overall immune system strength. Probiotics also combat the overgrowth of yeast.
- Make sure you dog is getting adequate Vitamin C, A, and E, Vitamin B complex, magnesium, and chromium.
- Consider homeopathic remedies such as Arsenicum, Thallium, Lycopodium, or Nat. Mur.
To find holistic help with your pet's diabetes, see our list of integrative veterinarians and holistic practitioners.
Diets that meet some of the parameters vets suggest for pet hair loss:
- Love (beef, grain free, puppies/pregnancy/active adult dogs)
- Embark (turkey, grain-free, puppies/lactation/more-active adult dogs)
- Force (chicken, grain-free, adult maintenance, seniors)
- Zeal (3 fish, grain-free, low-fat, lower-calorie, adult maintenance)
- Preference (Vegetarian pre-mix, grain-free, add your own meat, all life stages)
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