Why is Your Golden Retriever Losing Hair in Clumps? Causes and Treatments


Your Golden’s coat health is an important part of caring for them, which is why it’s always worrying when their hair falls out. If you notice your dog losing hair in clumps whether it happened while you were brushing them or not, it’s a cause for concern indeed and definitely needs your attention.

But why does it happen.

If you’re here for an answer, let me start by giving you a quick one.

Why is your Golden Retriever Losing Hair in Clumps? Your Golden Retriever Could be losing hair in clumps due to a bacterial infection called hot spots, a hormonal imbalance called hypothyroidism, an allergic reaction, dry skin or other skin issues, or poor nutrition. Your dog will regrow the hair normally after treating the issue.

You now have a little idea of what may be causing it, and it’s time to get a bit into it and find out what these causes are and how you can identify them and treat the issue. Keep reading…

Golden Retriever peeking

Why is Your Golden Retriever is Losing Hair in Clumps

Golden Retrievers are heavy shedders, so finding hair around the house is quite a normal thing for golden retriever owners. However, finding clumps of hair is not normal, and neither is having their hair coming out in clumps while brushing them or even petting them.

If you notice that clumps of hair are taken off their coats while brushing them or find their coats missing batches of hair, you should try to first identify the cause why your dog is losing this hair and then look at the possible treatments. I’m now going to go over each of the possible causes, how to identify it, and how to treat it.

Before we start, is your dog losing hair only on their face? If so, check out why dogs lose hair around the eyes here. It’s worth checking out as the causes for losing hair around the eyes only are not the same causes for losing hair in clumps all over the body, so give it a read. You can also check out my recommended brushes here if you’re looking for good brushes for goldens.

Hot Spots

Image of hot spots on dog's paw to illustrate one of the reasons why some golden retriever losing hair in clumps.

How to Tell:

As it looks in the image above, if your dog’s skin looks irritated and red after the hair falls out, you could be dealing with hot spots. Your dog will also be sensitive to the touch as their skin will be irritated.

What is it?

Hot Spots are a bacterial infection that caused the skin to have red inflamed skin lesions. They may contain pus and they appear rather quickly, they could appear literally overnight.

Hot spots are usually triggered b the dog’s scratching, chewing, or licking the affected area which results in trauma to the skin which is what causes the inflammation and could lead to secondary bacterial infections, and this only perpetuates a cycle of scratching leading to infections leading to more scratching and so on.

It’s a vicious cycle that your dog won’t be able to break on their own.

Treatment:

To treat the hot spots, you will need to soothe the inflamed areas and help your dog recover.

Here are the steps to treat hot spots in dogs:

  1. Shave or clip the area to get air to reach the infected skin and dry it.
    • And to uncover how bad the damage is, most of the infection could be hiding under matted hair. Make sure to shave the whole area.
  2. If the infection is severe, you should leave the shaving to your vet.
  3. Use cool water and a gentle skin cleanser to clean the area.
  4. Cool compress the infected area two to four times daily with a cool wet washcloth
  5. Use medications as prescribed by your vet.
    • They may prescribe oral antibiotics, special shampoos, or topical drying sprays.
  6. Use and E-collar on your dog
    • To prevent the scratching.

Hypothyroidism

How to Tell:

Common signs of hypothyroidism in Golden Retrievers include the loss of hair or the thinning of it, dull hair coat, excessive shedding or scaling, weight gain, a reduced ability to tolerate the cold, and overall reduced activity.

Usually, hair loss happens all over the body with the exception of the head and legs, and is not accompanied by skin redness or itching.

Some dogs will have their skins become thicker and will see an increased skin pigment in areas of friction such as their armpits. They may also have ear pain with redness and bad odor, and they may also develop itchy skin that results in sores on the body.

What is it?

Hypothyroidism is when the dog’s thyroid glands produce too much hormone and is often caused by an inflammation or shrinkage of the gland. Larger breeds – such as golden retrievers – are more prone to Hypothyroidism than smaller dogs.

Treatment

If you suspect your dog has hypothyroidism, you need to take them to the vet for a diagnosis. If your vet indeed diagnoses your dog with hypothyroidism, he will prescribe oral replacement hormone for the dog.

Unfortunately, Hypothyroidism is not curable, but it is manageable with the medications. Your dog will need to take the replacement hormone for the rest of their lives.

For 4 to 6 weeks after the diagnosis, your dog will take the medication twice daily and their fur will start to regrow normally, and most dogs will then have their dosage lowered to only once daily for the remainder of their lives given that their condition remains stable – which is the norm.

You can learn how to help your dog’s hair to grow back faster here.These are 7 tried and tested home remedies that have proven effective over the years and have never failed me or the hundreds of people I recommended these solutions to.

Allergic Reactions

How to Tell

Allergic reactions take little time to show themselves, so you simply need to take a look back at what your dog has eaten or touched in the last couple of hours to have your suspects.

Common symptoms of allergies in dogs, or allergic reactions, include Itchiness, scratching, swelling (of their face, lips, ear flaps, eyelids, or ears), diarrhea, vomiting, and sneezing.

What is it?

Dogs can have allergic reactions to certain foods or certain chemicals as do humans. The most common food allergens in dogs are protein, and especially proteins from dairy products. Dogs can also be allergic to beef, lamp, gluten, chicken, and chicken eggs.

Dogs can also have allergic reactions to certain chemicals that can be used in their treats or in their shampoos. They can also have allergic reactions to certain materials used in things that they come in contact with frequently.

Treatment

You can give your dog Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Zyrtec (cetirizine), and Claritin (loratadine) to relieve the allergic symptoms. Beware that these antihistamines can cause some dogs to be drowsy and others to be hyperactive.

It’s worth remembering here that you should try to stop the itching quickly even if you have to put an E-Collar on your dog to stop them from scratching the affected areas.

Pro Tip
Combine a mixture of 50% water and 50% apple cider vinegar in a clean spray bottle and spray your dog’s itchy spots with the solution to help with the itching.

Dry Skin

How to Tell

Common Symptoms of dry skin in dogs include itchiness, dandruff, flaking, pimples, scaling, inflammation, pimples, and bad odor.

What is it?

Dry skin is a problem that can have many root causes. Your dog can have dry skin simply of the location you’re living in if the air is too dry. Your dog can also have a dry skin as a symptom of a larger problem such as mange or other skin issues.

Most of the time, dry skin is nothing serious and is a temporary problem that’s treated easily. By the way, If you think your dog has dandruff because of something else, check out why does your dog has dandruff and 6 solutions here.

Treatment

Find out what is causing your dog to have dry skin and fix the issue. Do you live in an especially hot and dry place? Consider getting a humidifier

Your dog can also have dry skin because they are having too many baths, in this case, just slow down. You can find out how often should you bath your golden retriever here. I recommend checking it out as I explain the difference between different baths types, winter and summer baths, and give you some good tips on how to bathe your golden the easy and effective way.

If you suspect your golden is suffering from dry skin because of an underlying health issue, take them to the vet for a diagnosis. Don’t count on the internet for diagnosis, please. There is no replacement for the vet’s advice.

Common Causes You Already Know About

There are other causes that could be causing your golden retriever to lose hair in clumps such as bad nutrition, fleas and ticks, and bad grooming. I’m assuming you already know what there is to know about these topics and it’s just not worth covering here. However, just in case.

To learn about your dog’s nutrition, check out the recommended dog foods here and the foods they should never eat here.

If you think your dog is shedding excessively, check out these 17 solutions to your golden’s shedding.

You already know about fleas and ticks of course. If you’re looking for an easy solution, check out my recommended shampoo to fight fleas and ticks here.

Related Questions

Is it normal for my dog’s hair to fall out in clumps?

No, it’s not normal for dog’s hair to fall in clumps. If your dog is losing hair in clumps, you should pay attention to the problem. You should also make sure that this is not simply your dog’s shedding getting intense with the changing of the seasons, which is normal and should not be a cause for alarm.

If you have a dog of a heavy-shedding breed such as golden retrievers or German Shepherds, you should know that it’s normal for them to shed all-year-long and that their shedding gets quite intense during the changing of the seasons – during fall and spring.

Why is my golden retriever shedding more than normal?

Golden Retrievers shed profusely around the year, and it can be surprising or even shocking to new dog parents/owners. If this is the first time for you with a golden retriever, you should not be worried and just learn to handle it. You can learn how to manage their shedding here.

If, however, you are sure that your dog is shedding excessively and much more than normal, you should check the issue. Dogs can shed excessively because of stress, fleas, ticks, mites, or skin issues. If you are not sure what is causing the shedding, you should probably take them to the vet and have them checked out.

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