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As the weather turns cold, its times like these we wish we had a furry covering like our canine friends! Spare a thought then for the poor dogs of the world afflicted with a rare genetic disease that makes that protective fur coat fall out!

Aside from these rare genetic diseases, there’s no doubt that the most common cause of hair loss is trauma to the hair follicles, normally caused by resident organisms like bacteria, yeast or mites but also by that persistent scratch in our allergic patients.

Although very rare, the genetic diseases that cause fur loss are fascinating and very distinct. There are a handful of complex scientific names that describe each of these diseases but in general, they are all caused by a mutation in the genes that make the hair follicle. Puppies can be born apparently normal but soon lose part or all of their fur, or they may be born with hair loss already apparent.

Interestingly, the mutation most often affects ‘diluted’ colours such as fawn and blue, which means dog breeds with these colour types are more often affected. One of the most interesting genetic mutations affects only the follicle of black fur, so you can imagine that when the black fur falls out of spotty or patchy dogs, they end up looking like a map of the world with white ‘islands’ of normal fur scattered in a sea of baldness!

These bald patches are prone to scaling, dryness and secondary infection but apart from that, the disease is not painful and really quite harmless. And of course, in winter, the same principle applies to all dogs with hair loss of any kind: insulation.

So, if your dog is suffering from a spot of balding, you might like to whip out those knitting needles and exercise your creative side to make your (not-so-) furry friend a winter wooly!

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