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Maltese Hair
Can Stress Cause Coat Loss in a Maltese?

The Maltese is a very sensitive dog.  Stress can most certainly cause a coat loss issue.  Why would a Maltese become stressed?  The most common reason is Separation Anxiety.  This can happen if a dog is left alone too long.  While it may seem like a reasonable amount of time to you, it may be too overwhelming for your Maltese.

With proper training, a Maltese can learn to be alone for an appropriate amount of time, without showing destructive behavior or becoming so stressed that he or she shows physical symptoms affecting the dog's coat.









Overview

This breed technically has hair and not fur.  Just about every dog breed, can encounter many fur/hair issues.  Some are minor and some quite major.

One of the most common issues is a loss of the coat.   The Maltese does not shed, a trait not found in most breeds. Therefore, a thinning or loss of coat is a sign of a problem.  Coat issues (and skin issues) happen for a variety of reasons, including allergies and medical illness.

Fleas

Fleas can wreak havoc on a dog.  Once a dog has fleas, they will also be fleas in the home.  After being bitten a certain amount of times by fleas, a dog usually then develops a hyper-sensitivity to them.  After that, just 1 bite from a flea can cause extreme itching and scratching.

A Maltese may get fleas even in the cleanest of homes. A flea can jump up to 6 feet through the air.  Just 1 play date with an infested dog can mean that your Maltese became infected.  Because fleas are so small, an owner may not immediately know that they dog has fleas.  The symptoms are itching, however if care is not given this can domino into severe scratching.  The dog will scratch until the coat is completely gone in some spots.

If you suspect that your Maltese has fleas, you should have this confirmed with your dog's veterinarian.  Help comes with 3 treatments:
  • You must treat your Maltese with flea medication, this will be a shampoo or a lotion that is applied or sprayed on all areas of your dog
  • The house must be treated for fleas; flea foggers are highly recommended as they usually leave no flea untouched.
  • Soothing medication should be applied to your dog on their skin that has become red, swollen or sensitive.  Bathes in cool water with baking soda are recommended.  Fatty acid supplements added to dog food can also greatly help condition the skin.

Maltese hairOther Conditions

When a dog begins scratching, many owners automatically assume that the cause is fleas. "My dog must have fleas" is such a common saying, that many jump to this conclusion.  However, there are a multitude of reasons why a Maltese dog may begin to scratch or have coat or skin problems.

The first step is to take your dog to the veterinarian before the situation becomes any worse.  A quick diagnosis is the step to a fast recovery.  The 2nd most common reason for a dog to scratch,  have a thinning of the coat and have skin sores is allergies.  A dog may be allergic to many elements, the most common:
  • Dog food.  Even the highest quality dog food may contain an ingredient that is causing your Maltese to have a coat or skin reaction.  If this is found to be the cause, care must then be taken to find the exact cause.  The veterinarian may be able to find the culprit and you can also do your own testing.  In cases of severe coat loss, an owner can begin by home cooking simple, basic meals.  A simple combination of  boiled, skinless chicken breast and rice is recommended.  Do not add any extra ingredients; no butter, salt or seasonings of any kind.  Every 2 weeks, a new ingredient should be added; preferably one that is found in a high quality dog food.  This is can be sweet potatoes, peas and carrots.  As ingredients are being added and the body is given time to react during each 2 week time frame, it often becomes apparent which ingredient causes a reaction. 
  • Chemicals.  Most people do not think about the chemicals found in their home.  However everything from carpet cleaner to laundry detergent can cause a severe allergic reaction to a dog; thus resulting in  thinning patches of the  dog's coat and skin irritation.  Changes must be made to find the chemicals that is causing the problem and then replaced with a hypo-allergenic form.
  • Dog Grooming Supplies.  Your Maltese may be sensitive to the shampoo, conditioner, gel or other coat treatments used in grooming.   If so, a change to a hypo-allergenic shampoo is mandatory.  The dog should then be bathed in cool water with baking soda mixed in for 10-15 minutes per day,  to soothe their skin until they are healed.
Do be sure to have an experienced, professional veterinarian diagnose any coat loss, as some major and very serious medical conditions may be the cause.  Included are:
  • Alopecia - an auto-immune disorder
  • Dermatomyoitis - a rare but serious condition in which exposure to sunlight causes the dog's coat to thin out
  • Hypothyroidism - an under active thyroid that causes weakness, weight loss and affect the coat of the Maltese

                                                                         

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