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Hair Loss in Prairie Dogs

Alopecia in Prairie Dogs

Alopecia is the term given to the unusual loss of hair. The most frequent causes of hair loss in prairie dogs include injury due to rubbing or prickling of fur on wire cages; poor nutrition; and skin parasites such as fleas, lice, ticks, and parasitic fungi that affect the skin, hair, or nails.

Symptoms

  • Hair loss
  • Weight loss
  • Skin sores

Causes

There are a variety of causes for alopecia in prairie dogs, including:

  • Constant rubbing on metal cage feeders or excessive burrowing; typically the hair loss occurs around the face
  • Nutritional disorders such as deficiencies in vitamins, minerals, and/or proteins
  • Fungal (ringworm) or parasitic (ticks, mites, etc.) infections, which usually occur due to direct contact with infected animals and/or contaminated objects such as cage bedding

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian may easily diagnose alopecia by observing the prairie dog's clinical signs. Identifying the underlying cause of the alopecia, however, may involve blood tests and microscopic skin scraping examinations to rule out nutritional disorders and ectoparasitic infestations, respectively. Examining a sample of your pet's hair under a Wood's lamp can also be useful in detecting fungal infections.

 
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