Skip to content
Next Day Delivery Available // 14 Day Returns Policy
Next Day Delivery Available
What is Alopecia X or Black Skin Disease in Dogs?

What is Alopecia X or Black Skin Disease in Dogs?

Alopecia X (also known as Black Skin Disease) is the progressive thinning and, if left untreated, eventual balding of a dog’s coat. Where hair loss occurs, the underlying skin often turns dark or black (called hyperpigmented skin), hence the name ‘black skin disease’.

Black Skin Treatment here

What is Alopecia X or Black Skin Disease in Dogs?

Most commonly your dog will lose their long guard hairs first, usually there will be a gradual thinning of the hair on the back of their hind legs and under the tail. Hair loss will also occur along their back, on their stomach and around their genitals. Eventually, the skin becomes bald, this makes it vulnerable to the environment, causing frostbite or sunburn and infection.

Although it can occur in any breed, Alopecia X is most commonly seen in Pomeranians, Chow Chows, Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, Elkhounds, Toy Poodles and Miniature Poodles.

Signs and symptoms of Alopecia X or Black Skin Disease in dogs

Typically, black skin disease progresses quite slowly but this can vary dog to dog. In addition, it does not generally cause itching, redness or inflammation of the skin however because it leaves the skin venerable, secondary skin conditions or allergies can then develop which do cause your dog to itch or their skin to become red or inflamed.

Some symptoms of Alopecia X or Black Skin Disease are:

  • Gradual loss of hair’s colour and lushness
  • Gradual and symmetrical loss of the guard hairs
  • Increasingly cottony undercoat that is dry
  • Symmetrical baldness, hair loss typically but not always starts on the rear end and may extend to the back, sides and neck
  • Hyper-pigmentation (darkening) of the skin
  • Generally, but not in every case, your dog will otherwise be in good health, with normal appetite and energy levels

What causes Alopecia X in dogs?

The exact cause of Alopecia X is not fully known, but hormonal imbalances, specifically related to sex hormones and the adrenal glands, are believed to play a role. The condition is often seen in dogs that have been neutered or spayed, which is thought to perhaps lead to hormonal disruptions. Male dogs seem to be more prone than females. It is also thought to be linked to allergies, obesity and genetic factors. For this reason, if your dog suffers from Alopecia X, they should not really be bred from, as they are likely to have offspring which will also suffer from the disease.

What Age does a Dog develop Alopecia X?

Dogs that are affected with Alopecia X will have a normal coat as puppies and will not generally start showing symptoms until they are over 2 years old; generally, they will be diagnosed with it by 3 years old but it can be at any age post-puberty.

Treatment for Alopecia X

Treatment for Alopecia X can differ dog to dog, often dependent on what has triggered it and no treatment works for every dog, but there are measures which can manage it very effectively. Although it is unsightly and can cause uncomfortable side effects (e.g. sunburn, secondary infections etc), Alopecia X does not in and of itself harm your dog, so the overall goal for treatments is to have your dog re-grow their coat and prevent a recurrence of hair loss.

Common treatment options include

  • Hormone therapy
  • Melatonin supplements
  • Light therapy
  • Topical lotions/shampoo

Hormone therapy can be very effective; however, this is often a long process that requires lots of vet visits and close monitoring of your dog’s hormonal balance and organ function via repeated blood tests. A hormone such as methyltestosterone can be damaging to your dog’s liver over time and cause increased aggression in your dog. Other treatments can involve prescribing prednisone, cimetidine, ketoconazole, anipryl or leuprolide. These treatments are sometimes used to try and re-start the growth cycle of hair follicles but, again, can cause issues associated with steroids, such as making skin more fragile and increasing aggression.

Melatonin is a natural supplement that can be given to improve coat re-growth, however a side effect of this is drowsiness and sedation.

Topical lotions and/or specialist shampoos can be very effective in firstly tackling the issue of hair loss and then be used to maintain a healthy coat. Here at Zoomadog, we recommend Dermagic products. We receive excellent feedback from our customers who have used these products. These shampoos and topical lotions are made from all natural ingredients. If your dog is suffering from Alopecia X, it is recommended to use the Dermagic System, this is a four-step process which tackles the acute problem and then helps your dog to maintain a healthy coat, with a less intense maintenance programme. Because it is not a pharmaceutical product but a natural one, results will not be instant, but you should notice a difference after a couple of weeks.

It is worth noting, if your dog has bald patches of exposed skin or very thin hair, they are much more vulnerable to the sun or the cold. Skin can become very fragile, especially if your dog is receiving steroids, so sunburn is common. You can apply a special dog suncream to exposed skin to prevent this however, make sure to use a suncream which is specially formulated for dogs, avoid using human products on pets unless your vet has specifically recommended them.

Black Skin Disease - Black Spots on Your Dogs Skin

Black spots on your dog most commonly start on the belly or sensitive areas, but can begin elsewhere. Black Skin Disease can also include dramatic hair lose known as Alopecia X, commonly seen in Pomeranians. This can be worrying, but no fear! You need to apply Dermagic twice a day and soon your dogs black spots will fade away and the hair will start to grow again. We recommend using twice daily for the first week and daily thereafter until your dogs coat and skin are back to normal. Keep the area covered to help reduce your dog licking and to keep it away from the suns harmful rays. If you are new to Dermagic, we recommend starting with the Dermagic System Offer.

Looking for help with your dog and black skin disease?

Give us a call, email or chat to us online

Give us a Call on - 01730 622544