10 Causes of Hair Loss From a Dog's Tail

There are various causes of hair loss on a dog's tail. Some disorders may cause accompanying itchiness and other symptoms. In this article, veterinarian Dr. Ivana shares several potential causes.

10 Causes of Hair Loss From a Dog's Tail

There are various causes of hair loss on a dog's tail. Some disorders may cause accompanying itchiness and other symptoms. In this article, veterinarian Dr. Ivana shares several potential causes.

Discover several causes for hair loss from a dog's tail.

Priyadharshan Saba via Unsplash

Is Your Dog Losing Tail Hair?

If your dog is losing hair on the tail, you very well may be concerned. Although hair loss from the area may appear to be merely a cosmetic issue, it can actually be a sign of several medical disorders that require attention.

Dogs can develop hair loss from their tail for a variety of reasons. To get to the bottom of the issue, you will have to have your dog see your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

For several conditions, hair loss can lead to other complications such as secondary bacterial infections, chronic itch and discomfort and several other consequences when the hair loss turns out to be an indication of a more serious underlying health condition.

It is therefore important to address this issue as soon as possible in an attempt to prevent further complications and ensure your dog's overall health and well-being.

In this article, veterinarian Dr. Ivana Crnec, a licensed veterinarian graduate of the University Sv. Kliment Ohridski’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Bitola, Republic of Macedonia, will cover the following topics:

  • Two types of tail hair loss in dogs
  • The role of allergies
  • External and internal parasites
  • Anal gland issues
  • The role of pain
  • Emotional distress
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Treatment options for hair loss on dog tails
  • Three home remedies for tail hair loss in dogs
  • How long for the hair on the tail to grow back?

What Causes Hair Loss on a Dog's Tail?

Losing hair on the tail is not a disease on its own but rather a symptom. Tail hair loss can indicate a plethora of conditions—some more worrisome than others.

The severity of the underlying condition depends on two main factors:

  • Whether the hair loss is accompanied by itchiness of the tail region
  • Whether the dog is showing additional signs and what they specifically are

Based on these variables, the causes of hair loss on a dog’s tail range from impacted anal glands to endocrine disorders.

My Dog Is Itching and Losing Hair on the Tail

Tail hair loss accompanied by itchiness or excess grooming will result in poor coat quality (broken and saliva-stained hair) and skin irritation (redness or, in severe cases, even open sores).

In these cases, you can also expect behavioral changes, as itchiness is annoying.

1. Food and Environmental Allergies

Today, many dogs suffer from allergies. Both food and environmental allergies in dogs can manifest with itchiness and skin irritation.

In such cases, prolonged irritation can trigger hair loss.

Managing a dog with an allergy can be a challenge. Dogs with food allergies require special diets, and dogs with environmental allergies usually need lasting treatment with antihistamines or desensitization therapy.

2. External Parasites

Many external parasites can cause hair loss and itchiness, not just on the tail, but all over the body. Fleas, demodectic, and sarcoptic mange are among the most common culprits.

Fleas are dangerous and a nuisance, but based on where you live, they can be seasonal issues. Demodectic mange is more likely in young puppies, seniors, and immunocompromised dogs. Sarcoptic mange affects all dogs regardless of age.

The treatment is simple and requires topical and/or oral anti-parasitic drugs. Fleas are also easily preventable through the regular use of anti-flea treatments like collars, spot-on liquids, and chewable tablets.

3. Flea Allergy Dermatitis

Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is a specific condition caused by fleas. Some dogs are sensitive to flea saliva (which becomes injected into the skin when fleas feed on the dog).

As a result, the dog develops a local allergic reaction. Interestingly, in dogs with infected anal glands, fleas tend to feed in the anal region (the scent might attract them).

In such cases, the effects of FAD will be most severe in the anal region, causing tail hair loss and irritation.

FAD treatment is quite simple and involves getting rid of the flea infestation. In rare and more severe cases, the veterinarian may recommend local treatment to manage the irritation.

4. Intestinal Parasites

As gross as it sounds, some intestinal parasites can crawl from the dog’s anus and cause itchiness in the anal region and the tail. Disturbed by the sensation, the dog may constantly lick and scratch the area. Eventually, this will cause hair loss on the tail and skin irritation.

Intestinal parasites are prevalent among dogs—almost all dogs experience such issues at least once in their lifetimes. Luckily, intestinal parasites are easy to prevent—all you need to do is keep your dog up-to-date on dewormers.

5. Anal Gland Issues

Anal gland issues are widespread in dogs. The anal glands produce a smelly substance that is stored in the anal sacs. They are located around the anus, and when the dog defecates, it squirts a small amount of the smelly substance with the poop (for scent marking and communication purposes).

However, if the secretions aren't eliminated properly (narrow anal sac canals), they build up in the sacs. Over time, this results in infected anal glands. A dog with infected anal glands will experience severe itchiness in the base of the tail.

As the itchiness progresses and the dog bites or licks the base of the tail, hair loss is expected. Interestingly, a dog with severely impacted anal glands can start losing hair even in distant places.

6. Excessive Tail Pain

Tail hair loss in dogs can be the result of excessive pain in the tail and lower back regions.

Dogs feeling pain in these areas will groom their tails excessively. Various issues, such as a broken tail or arthritis, can cause pain.

7. Removal of Foreign Bodies

On some occasions, the itchiness can be the result of the presence of a foreign body stuck in the tail region. The most common culprit is a foxtail. Grass seeds and awns are also possible.

8. Emotional Distress

Another reason dogs groom their tails excessively is emotional distress. Dogs that are anxious or otherwise stressed out often engage in excessive licking (as a coping and self-soothing mechanism).

"Stud tail" is not very common, but can also cause hair loss as a result of high levels of hormones


Non-Itchy Causes of Tail Hair Loss in Dogs

Non-itchy hair loss on a dog’s tail is usually indicative of hormonal imbalances. Dogs with endocrine issues will show additional signs and symptoms unrelated to the tail and hair loss.

9. Hypothyroidism

A common cause of hair loss on the dog’s tail is hypothyroidism. Dogs with this condition lose the hair on their tail. Due to the unique hair loss pattern and the tail’s appearance, the symptom is popularly known as "rat tail."

Hypothyroidism develops when the thyroid gland does not produce adequate levels of thyroid hormones. It can be immune-mediated or idiopathic (of unknown origin).

Dogs with hypothyroidism will show additional signs and symptoms like weight gain (without appetite changes), cold intolerance, and decreased energy.

The treatment is the lifelong use of oral tablets that replace the missing hormone with a synthetic version.

10. Cushing’s Disease

Another endocrine condition that can cause tail hair loss is Cushing’s disease, also known as hyperadrenocorticism. It is caused by overactive adrenal glands that produce excess amounts of the hormone cortisol.

Cushing’s disease is serious on its own, and it increases the risk of other issues, such as diabetes and kidney disease. Dogs with Cushing’s disease eat and drink more, have enlarged abdomens, and develop skin changes.

Cushing’s disease can be treated with oral meds (their use in veterinary medicine is off-label). The treatment does not increase the dog’s lifespan, but it manages the symptoms, thus improving the dog's quality of life.

How Is Hair Loss on a Dog's Tail Treated?

The treatment for hair loss on a dog’s tail depends on the underlying cause. Some causes like allergies require changes in diet and lifestyle, while others, like parasites, need specific antiparasitic drugs.

Also, some treatments, like those for anal gland infections, are time-limited, while treatments for hormonal imbalances are usually lifelong.

The vet will prepare a treatment strategy based on the underlying cause and the dog’s specific situation. If there are different treatment approaches available, they will discuss each approach and recommend the best course of action.

What Can I Do to Help My Dog if Losing Tail Hair?

The most important thing to do is adhere to the vet’s treatment guidelines. There are also some things you can do to speed up the healing and boost your dog’s hair growth.

Here are some helpful tips:

Prevent Hair Scratching/Biting

This applies to dogs with itchy causes of hair loss. To avoid further damage and prolonged healing, it is important to prevent your dog from disturbing the area. You can use an Elizabethan collar for this purpose.

Use Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has a positive effect on hair growth and can relieve skin inflammation. Both features are beneficial to dogs losing hair on their tails. Plus, coconut oil is simple to use—just rub some organic oil on the bald skin patches.

Add Supplements to the Menu

Supplements rich in omega fatty acids and certain vitamins and minerals can promote hair growth.

There are many such dog supplements available on the market. If you are unsure which is best for your dog, consult with the vet.

Before trying these home remedies, we recommend consulting with the vet. They do not interfere with mainstream treatment, but still, it is advisable to check with your trusted veterinarian.

When Will the Hair on My Dog's Tail Re-Grow?

There is no way of predicting when the dog’s tail hair will re-grow. In general, hair re-growth is expected once the underlying cause is managed.

However, the exact timeframe will depend on the cause itself as well as the severity of the hair loss. Also, we must note that hair grows in cycles, and growth depends on the cycle stage as well.

All things considered, you need to follow your veterinarian’s guidelines regarding the treatment and be patient.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2023 Adrienne Farricelli

(Excluding for the Headline, this article ("story") has not been edited by MiBiz News and is published from a web feed or sourced from the Internet.)