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Having a bad hair day?

Living

HAIRY PROBLEM After ruling out medical issues, there are a few steps that pet owners that can take to deal with hair shedding.

The vet's view
Conal Finnerty

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions and queries to me over this past month – there was quite a volume! A number of people asked why their pet was losing so much hair around the house.
It can be annoying to see hair accumulate in corners and on soft furnishings, but it can also lead owners to wonder if there is something wrong, and if there is anything that they can do.
Hair loss, or alopecia, in pets has a huge number of causes. These causes can trigger hair loss, either on their own or in some combination with others. Some are even important to know about from the point of view of human infection.
The range of potential causes is vast, but it includes parasitic infection (such as mange), fungal infection (such as ringworm), endocrine disorders (cushing disease, ovarian and testicular tumours, thyroid dysfunction), diet (when deficient in important nutrients to support strong hair growth and health, such as biotin and sulphur amino acids), environmental factors (such as excessive washing with commercial shampoos) and self-inflicted (self-trauma or excessive licking due to stress).
It’s still very important to rule out such medical conditions as ringworm, mange and, particularly, endocrine disorders when trying to deal with hair loss in cats and dogs, as the conditions can be potentially serious. It’s also important to note that ringworm and mange can involve human transmission in some cases.
If your pet is losing hair and infections and disorders have been ruled out, look at your pet’s diet and make sure it is of sufficient quality to give them the proper nutrients they need to sustain healthy hair follicles.
Think about their environment too. Often, the cause of alopecia in pets that are kept predominantly indoors is quite simple: their environment (the owner’s home) is too hot. Also, ask yourself, could your pet be stressed in some way?
Remember too that most cats and dogs naturally moult (shed their hair), some more than others, depending on breed type. Regular grooming with a moulting comb or grooming brush will remove a lot of this hair in a controlled way, rather than allowing it drop all over the house. If you can, brush them outside and allow the breeze carry the hair away. It won’t be long before birds gather it up and use it to line their nests.
Finally, white- or light-haired animals that have normal hair ‘turnover’ often get a poor rap when it comes to hair loss in the home, simply because this coloured hair can be more easily seen on the carpet or the couch!
 
Veterinarian Conal Finnerty MRCVS practises at the Skeldale Vet Clinic in Ballinrobe and Belmullet. Follow the clinic on Facebook, or call 094 9541980 or 087 9185350 to make an appointment. All readers’ questions about pet health are welcome. Please email your queries to Conal at conalmrcvs@hotmail.com.