Don’t lose your pet from hairloss!

Have you ever looked at your pet and wondered,  “Is my pet going bald?”

He’s probably not. Hair loss is one of the most common complaints for which owners bring their pets into the animal hospital, and generally, there is an underlying infectious or hormonal cause for it. Rabbits and rodents (chinchillas, guinea pigs, and small rodents like mice, rats, hamsters and gerbils) often get patches of hair loss from ringworm/fungal infection and mites – both of which may be transmittable to people. Ringworm is not actually a worm; it is a fungus that is transmitted from animal to animal or from the environment to an animal through microscopic spores that resist disinfection and can live months to years in dry areas. All furry pets can carry these spores on their coats without having any signs at all. Rabbits will commonly be infected with a mite called Cheylitiella – or walking dandruff mite – that looks like big white flakes that move through the fur, particularly over rabbits’ shoulders and back of their necks. This mite can be quite itchy to both pets and people. Female guinea pigs, too, can lose hair symmetrically on both sides of their bodies from cysts that develop in their ovaries that can become large and painful over time. Ferrets most often lose hair secondary to the hormones produced by cancerous adrenal glands. While not contagious to people, adrenal disease in ferrets can cause enlargement of the prostate gland, causing secondary urinary tract obstruction in males and bone marrow suppression in both males and females; both conditions may be life threatening in ferrets. Ferrets with hair loss from adrenal disease also may be itchy and form small blackhead-like pimples on the skin.

So, whether your bunny or rodent has lost hair from an infection with mites, fungus, or some other organism, or if your ferret is losing hair from adrenal gland disease, the only way to treat these treatable conditions is to bring him or her into the veterinarian for testing. Bald may be beautiful in people but can be a sign of illness in furry pets. Call the Veterinary Center to have any signs of hairloss checked right away.