Causes of Hair Loss Around Dog’s Eyes


The appearance of hair loss around a dog’s eyes is not only unsightly from a cosmetic perspective, but it can also be indicative of some underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed. Hair loss in dogs can happen for many reasons, but when it only affects the area around a dog’s eyes, the list of conditions can be narrowed down considerably. If your dog is suffering from hair loss around the eyes, you may be wondering whether that hair is going to grow back. Fortunately, the good news is that generally with cases of hair loss, yes, the hair will grow back once the underlying condition is recognized and treated accordingly, explains Dr. James O. Noxon of Iowa State University in “Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine.”

A Possible Eye Problem 

When a dog develops hair loss around the eyes, a condition that is medically known as periocular alopecia,  it’s important to assess whether the hair loss around the dog’s eye is happening because of an underlying eye problem.

When dogs develop an eye problem, it’s not unusual for them to paw at the eye repeatedly and even rub the eye around furniture and carpet. This type of friction is what may cause the dog to lose hairs around the eye, explains veterinarian Dr. Fiona. 

It’s therefore important having the dog see the vet so the vet can carry out a complete eye exam, and possibly do other tests such as a tonometry test and a Schirmer tear test. These tests can help identify whether the dog is suffering from eye disorders such as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye) or glaucoma.

Eye problems can often be accompanied by discharge, redness and pain. If there are no noticeable problems with the eye, then another likely possibility for a dog suffering from hair loss around the eyes is that the dog is suffering from some type of underlying skin problem.

A Possible Skin Problem

A case of canine atopy causing hair loss around a dog’s eye.

There are several skin problems that may cause a dog to develop hair loss around the eye. One of them is the presence of a parasite, such as demodex canis which is common in young dogs with a weakened immune system and  can cause hair loss and scaling around the  dog’s eyes, but typically without much itching involved.

Other possibilities include other potential problems of the skin such as the presence of a yeast infection, bacterial folliculitis (inflammation of hair follicles) or a skin allergy.

Allergies can be due to something in the environment, fleas or a possible food. Dogs affected by allergies are typically itchy, and on top of rubbing the skin around their eyes, they may have itchy faces and may be licking their paws, explains veterinarian Dr. Denise Colgrove.

If your vet suspects a skin problem, he or she will likely take a skin scrape of your dog’s skin cells, and will then look at the sample under the microscope to try to identify the underlying cause.

A Word of Caution

Treatment for hair loss around the eyes on dogs is based on the underlying cause. Because the area around the eyes is delicate and any products used here can end up in the eye, it’s important that dog owners do not try to treat the hair loss at home using products that may be irritating  to the eye and even potentially cause damage.

If your dog has hair loss around his eyes, it is therefore important to play it safe and see your vet so to treat the underlying cause accordingly. Your vet can prescribe vet-approved products that are safe to use around your dog’s eyes.


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