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Bald Spots in Dogs

Bald Spots in Dogs: Common Causes and Treatments continued...

Although small ringworm lesions may clear up spontaneously, a severe infection will need treatment with an antifungal shampoo or cream and/or antifungal drugs. Treating mites may require topical medications and antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections.

Pressure Sores

Older or heavy dogs can be prone to pressure sores where their elbows or other bony parts of the body come in regular contact with hard surfaces. Over time the constant pressure tends to thicken the skin, the hair falls out, and calluses form.

If calluses crack, bleed, or get infected, treatment may include moisturizers, antibiotics, or even surgery if the cracking is severe. You can prevent pressure sores and calluses by providing your pooch with cushioned bedding.


Insect bites and stings, medications, plants, chemicals, even shampoos can cause some dogs to develop a rash or hives, which can result in bald spots.

Allergic rashes usually appear within minutes to hours of exposure, and other symptoms can include listlessness, fever, and lack of appetite. Always talk to your vet if your dog develops hives, as emergency treatment may be needed.

Other Causes of Bald Spots in Dogs

  • Foreign body reaction. Glass, thorns, even a dog’s own coarse hair can all cause inflammation and bald spots if they lodge in your dog's skin. Along with hair loss, signs of irritation by a foreign body include swelling and licking the area repeatedly -- for example between the toes. Treatment may require lancing under local or general anesthesia to remove the irritant and antibiotics if there's a secondary bacterial infection.
  • Post-clipping alopecia. For some dogs, especially densely-coated breeds like the Alaskan malamute, Siberian husky, and keeshond, clipping -- for example in preparation for surgery -- can lead to persistent bald spots. A fairly common condition, there really isn't any treatment for post-clipping alopecia except patience while the hair grows back.

When to See a Vet About Bald Spots in Dogs

See your vet if you're not sure what's causing your dog's bald spots or if those bald spots are also accompanied by:

  • itching
  • bad odor
  • irritated or infected skin
  • changes in behavior

WebMD Veterinary Reference

Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on March 24, 2013

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