When I was working in Virginia, I had a wonderful client who had a clan of rescued Pomeranians. One of her Pomeranians in particular, started to develop a very dry and brittle hair coat that progressed to hair loss (known as alopecia). He was otherwise healthy, and completely unbothered by his progressing baldness. His pet parent, however, was very concerned. After further testing and ruling out of other possibilities, we diagnosed him with a condition currently referred to as Alopecia X.
Alopecia X is a condition most commonly seen in Pomeranians, Chow chows, Keeshonds, Samoyeds, Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes. It is seen more commonly in male dogs, but can be seen in females. Usually, it is first noticed between one and three years of age, however, it can be seen in dogs as old as seven. It usually starts out as a dull and brittle hair coat that progresses to hair loss. Unfortunately, new hair does not grow back in. The head and legs are usually spared, but the rest of the body can become alopecic.
Dogs with Alopecia X are not usually itchy, unless they have a secondary bacterial or yeast infection (although, these infections are not caused by the Alopecia X). In fact, most of these dogs could care less about their hair loss; it is usually the pet parents that find the look to be less than appealing!
Fortunately, the condition is not harmful to your dog, and does not require any therapy or intervention once it has been diagnosed. So where exactly does this mysterious condition come from?
Unfortunately, we do not know (yet!) what causes Alopecia X. There appears to be a hormonal component, but the exact pathogenesis and hormonal aspect has not yet been figured out. Tomorrow we’ll talk about how Alopecia X is diagnosed, and what treatments are available to help manage it.
To more waggin’ and purrin’. rwkj