If you’re feeling concerned or confused at noticing that your dog is losing hair around eyes, get familiar with what it means and how to deal with it so that your dog stays his healthy and happy self.
If a dog is losing hair around his eyes, it is most likely he is dealing with an issue relating to his eye and/or his skin. The hair loss around the eye would be a symptom of a larger issue. You take a breath of relief, however, in remembering that “larger issue” doesn’t necessarily have to be a scary or life-altering thing. It’s just something that demands some attention for you and, if possible, a vet. Take a look at the various causes of hair loss around the eyes, the reasons why hair loss around the eyes is different from other hair loss, and how to treat it.
Other symptoms of eye or skin issues
Loss of fursies around the eye isn’t the only symptom for pet parents to watch for with an underlying condition, of course. Other symptoms that he is struggling with can easily be spotted and logged, too.
Constant rubbing of his eye area with his paws or carpet
Since his eyes and face are itchy and uncomfortable, you’ll notice that he is going to be rubbing his eyes with his paws a lot, or maybe even on the floor, carpet, or yourself!
Discharge-filled eyes usually with a bad smell
While clear discharge is common from time to time, if you notice that your dog has colored discharge (especially if it’s stinky), that’s another symptom that he has got something going on in his body that needs attention.
Red or irritated skin
Whether it’s hot, scaling, flaking, bare skin spots, or just skin that seems irritated to the naked eye, any skin that looks like it’s uncomfortable most likely is for your dog. You may notice that it is near the eye area, or somewhere else on his body.
Your dog is sensitive in those areas
If they’re uncomfortable or in pain, they’re not going to like being touched in those areas. If he’s suddenly uncomfortable with you scratching or petting in a certain area (particularly his face), this is a problem.
My dog is losing hair around the eyes…why?
If you’re ready to get to the bottom of why your dog is losing some fur around his eyes, the two biggest issues are going to be related to the eye and/or the skin, as you know. But, what are they?
If there are very few physical symptoms on the skin, he is most likely has a controlled eye problem. When these are cleared up, the fur will grow back.
Injury to eye
From a bug to a piece of dirt, it’s possible that something got into his eye and it’s now irritating it. The is especially common in those dogs that love to play in the mud or water!
He could have a scratch from playing, too. Whether it was an unfriendly cat or just two gots getting too enthusiastic — it happens, right? — a scratch to the eye can be uncomfortable and painful until it heals!
This is a fancy term that can mean a few different conditions. From damage to the topic nerve to an issue with the retina and beyond, this means that your dog’s eye is damaged (most likely permanently) and you can expect your dog to have trouble with this sight. Now, we know this sounds scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Commonly linked to certain dog breeds or irresponsible breeders, glaucoma is something that can be easily managed for your dog!
You’ve heard of this one before! Well, it’s not just something that toddlers spread to everyone. Pink Eye is also common and contagious to dogs since they tend to be contact-based animals.
If you see quite a few of the listens from above and you also notice the fur around the eyes, your dog could have a larger body-based skin reaction instead. Once cleared up, your dog’s fur will return to normal!
A fancy word for dealing with an infestation of mange bacteria, this can happen to a dog who has a compromised immune system or one who is getting older and dealing with a weaker body. He won’t be able to fight off the infestation like a younger or “stronger” dog would.
Contagious to both other pets and humans (yes, really), ringworm is a fungal infection and is common in those with compromised immune systems as well. It can create bald spots and skin with rings on it, which is where it gets its name.
Allergies often are common in certain dog breeds and these allergic reactions will show up in skin issues such as bald spots, red inflamed skin, or fur loss.
If your dog has weak skin unable to fight off even mild irritation, you may notice he has infections and other problems like fur loss commonly without any clear cause.
What to do if my dog is losing hair around his eyes
If you’ve noticed that your dog is definitely starting to lose his hair around his eyes, there is a lot that you can do to help!
Take note of any and all symptoms
Take some photos of his eyes for a few days that you can show your vet to show how it’s been falling out (and how fast). Also, check him out for any other signs that he is having an issue, as they can help your vet determine what it is (sores, scaling, etc).
Record any changes to diet and lifestyle that could account for it
This seems hard, but you don’t need to micro-manage it! Have you changed dog food brands? Did you take him on a new route for his walk? Did he have a playdate? Did you visit a dog park? Things like that can help a lot!
Contact your vet
You should definitely contact your vet. They’ll either tell you to come in or to keep an eye on it and document all those things. Since these issues are often serious, don’t skip this step!
How to treat hair loss around the dog’s eyes
Once your vet has taken a look at the issue, the following steps are normally the ones you can expect.
Diagnose and treat the underlying issue
Since hair loss around the eye for your dog is just a symptom of something else, your vet will need to diagnose the issue and tell you what the plan will be.
A note: Even if you’ve done some Google sleuthing and are 100% certain he’s got an eye infection and you found a cheap medication on amazon, ignore the urge to call the vet! A pet’s health and medicine should never be trusted to Google!
Wipe discharge from eyes
Assuming it’s an actual eye issue, of course, your vet will often tell you to use a warm and damp soft cloth to wipe the discharge from the area a few times a day. This will ease discomfort and keep the eye from getting too traumatized.
Antibiotic pills or topical creams
From pills for ringworm to topical creams for Pink Eye, your vet will prescribe what they think is best for your dog and it will be up to you to make sure that you get him his treatments as soon as possible.
Is it normal for a dog to have bald spots?
Bald spots around the eyes as well as on the body are not normal for your dog, even as he ages. This is different from seasonal shedding (aka blowing his/her coat) where fur comes out in clumps. Balding is literal bald spots where you can see right to your dog’s skin. Balding could be linked to a few issues.
This is when the body produces too much cortisol (a stress hormone) and it can create stress-related bald spots. This is diagnosed and treated with a vet to help.
An irresponsible breeder will not know how to handle genetics, meaning that their resulting puppies can have poor genetics that, amongst other illnesses and health conditions, causes fur loss!
From repetitive motions to over-grooming to joint conditions, pressure sores can eventually lead to bald spots as the skin becomes traumatized.
Common in some dog breeds, this is when a dog’s thyroid is under-performing and hair loss and bald spots are common symptoms that something is going on.
Very distinct from shedding, bald spots are always something to ask your vet about as soon as you notice them. Whether they’re on the side, tummy, face, or eye area of your dog, your vet will want to see them.
How to keep my dog’s eye fur healthy
Want to do your best to keep your dog’s fur healthy and strong around the eyes? Here are some tips to do it.
Remember that genetics play a role
You’ll want to make sure that you are always getting your pup from a responsible breeder that can help rule out a lot of the genetic and hereditary issues that are out there. Adoptions rule this out, of course, but make sure that you adopt responsibly, too!
Preventative vet appointments
Just like a human should go to a doctor’s office regularly, you’ll want to consider preventative appointments for your dog, too. From annual check-ups to immunizations to spay or neuter, and beyond, your vet’s professional opinion on our dog’s health is crucial! Don’t neglect this, or it could mean pain or hardship for your dog and your pocketbook, both.
Proper grooming and bathing
Both grooming and bathing are crucial for a lot of things for your dog. However, when it comes to keeping his fur strong around his eyes, it’s very closely linked!
A dog who is groomed regularly is easy to check for any kinds of issues that may lead to eye fur loss. For instance, hives from allergies or dermatitis scaling, etc. The sooner that you realize the issue and have it treated, the better.
Similarly, if you bathe your dog regularly, you can clean dirt and excess oil from his fur (be careful around his eyes) and keep the hair follicles strong and resistant to damage or injury. Just make sure you use a vet-approved shampoo to do so or take him to a groomer if you prefer.
Hair loss vs discoloration around the eye
Hair loss is very different from discoloration around the eye. If your dog’s eye fur is discolored, there are a few reasons that could be related.
He gets tear marks
Tear marks are watermarks, basically, for your dogs. Toy breeds are very prone to this! Sometimes, these watermarks and tear streaks will cause the fur to turn brown or yellow and it’ll need to be cleaned.
He’s growing into shading
As puppies grow up, they’ll grow into their colors, so’s to speak. For example, some breeds — such as Golden Shepherds — have really special color streaks and these will sometimes come as they reach maturity. This color will appear like dirt, but it’s just colorful fur!
He’s getting to his golden years
Similarly, as your dog reaches his golden and twilight years, the fursies around his eyes will turn grey or white. This can sometimes happen on other parts of his body, too. That’s why you see so many senior Golden Retrievers with white eye fur and golden fur elsewhere!
Hair loss around the eye for your dog is always something to take seriously. If you notice it, regardless of what you think the cause might be, contact your vet and get to the bottom of the issue so that your dog and his fursies can get back to normal as soon as possible!