Pets and Hair Loss

pets and hair lossNumerous studies have shown the benefits of pet ownership. From relaxation and stress relief of petting and playing with them to the health benefits from walking your dog or cat (if it is leash trained or in a carrier-stroller), having a pet is good for you – unless it causes hair loss.

While not a prominent reason for losing your hair, your dog or cat could trigger your own hair loss. The good news is that the types of hair loss that can be caused by your pets is usually treatable and reversible – especially if caught quickly.

Can Dogs Cause Hair Loss in Humans?

Yes, people who own dogs can end up losing their hair if they catch certain medical conditions from their pets. It is uncommon but feasible.

The main condition that transmits hair loss from dogs to humans is mange. Also called scabies and officially known as sarcoptic mange, it is caused by mites which burrow deep beneath the skin. Once infected by these tiny parasites, the mites cause extreme itching and irritation. Mange can also cause blisters or red bumps. Due to the inevitable scratching, secondary infections are also common with mange which can add further complications.

Mange is very infectious among dogs so if you have multiple dogs and one gets mange, it is quite likely that the others will get mange unless you detect and treat it quickly. Dogs can also infect humans with mange, but people are a “dead end” host for mange. This means that it is self-limiting in humans. Unlike dogs, people do not lose all their hair like mange-infected dogs can. However, human-to-human transmission of mange is possible.

In humans, mange symptoms appear up to four weeks after the mites infect the skin. The symptoms actually occur when the skin reacts to the mites’ feces and proteins.

Prescription treatment is the best, fastest solution for mange. In humans, the hair loss is reversible, especially when treated quickly – so long as you do not scratch your scalp enough to damage the hair follicles.

Can Cats Make Your Hair Fall Out?

Generally, being around cats will not make your hair fall out. However, a ringworm infection transmitted by a cat can lead to hair loss. Also, if you have an allergy to cats and scratch your scalp enough to damage your hair follicles… that can lead to hair loss. This is an uncommon circumstance but possible.

Ringworm is a potential way that a pet can cause hair loss in humans. This fungal infection can occur in dogs, cats, and humans – though cats tend to be asymptomatic. Cats can still transmit ringworm even while asymptomatic. Cows, horses, goats, and pigs can also have and transmit ringworm.

Ringworm causes patches of scaly skin with the hair breaking at skin level or just above it. Hair is also prone to being brittle in the affected areas and falls out easily. Ringworm areas will also be tender or painful.

The discomfort from the symptoms can make the affected person want to scratch. Too much scratching can damage hair follicles, leading to permanent hair loss. If treated in a timely manner, the hair loss can be reversed.

What Causes Dog Alopecia?

“Alopecia” means hair loss, and humans can suffer from various forms of alopecia. For alopecia on dogs, this generally occurs as the result of an infection, parasites, allergies, or mites. Mange and ringworm are the most common causes for dog alopecia.

Like humans, malnutrition or a generally poor diet can lead to hair loss as can inflammation or over-grooming. Anything that makes the dog scratch and area excessively can lead to follicle damage and hair loss.

Additionally, some dogs can experience a seasonal alopecia where they lose hair in the fall, a time period when their coats are normally supposed to thicken for winter. It can take six months or more to regrow hair lost from seasonal alopecia. The breeds most prone to seasonal alopecia are Boxers, Bulldogs, Dobermans, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers.

Can Stress Cause Alopecia in Dogs?

Yes, just like humans, stress can trigger alopecia or hair loss in dogs and cats. If your pet suddenly starts to develop bald patches or overall hair thinning, visit your veterinarian to eliminate medical reasons for the hair loss. Odds are the vet will then look at diet as the cause, either as in a food allergy or a lack of an essential nutrient.

Once diet and medical conditions are eliminated from the equation, stress is likely the cause. Dogs (and cats) often like routine so disruptions to that routine – especially for older pets – can be incredibly stressful. Moving, losing their human, and adding or losing another dog (or cat) can cause enough stress to cause hair loss, either directly or because they excessively lick or scratch causing the hair loss.

Call RHRLI If You Have Hair Loss Concerns

If you’re concerned about your own hair volume, a receding hairline, or any other type of hair loss issue, we can discuss it in a free consultation. Our state-of-the-art facility uses the ARTAS® robot for precise results and faster healing. To learn more as to why RHRLI is Long Island’s hair restoration leader, contact us today.

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