Are you worried about that small patch of hairless skin on your Maltese’s otherwise flawless coat?
While it may be tempting to panic or rush off to the vet, take a deep breath and relax. The reasons for a Maltese bald spot are usually not serious and can be easily treated or managed.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these causes and when they may require veterinary attention.
What are bald spots?
Bald spots refer to areas on a dog’s coat where there is little to no hair growth. These spots can vary in size and may appear anywhere on your Maltese’s body.
While it’s normal for a Maltese to have some hair loss due to shedding, persistent bald spots should be investigated further.
Causes of bald spots in Maltese dogs
Maltese dogs tend to be more prone to allergies, which can result in hot spots and hair loss.
One common allergy seen in dogs is food allergies. Your Maltese can be allergic to grains (corn or wheat), certain proteins (chicken or beef), and even artificial ingredients and additives in their food.
In that case, you need to pay attention to what you’re feeding your dog and consider switching to a high-quality, hypoallergenic diet if necessary.
Some shampoos or conditioners may also contain ingredients that can trigger allergic reactions, bald spots, or irritated skin. Opting for natural or hypoallergenic grooming products specifically formulated for sensitive dog skin can make all the difference.
RELATED: Can I Use Palmolive to Wash My Dog?
Similarly, environmental allergens such as pollen or dust mites can cause all sorts of allergic reactions.
It’s important to keep your home clean and free of dust, regularly wash your Maltese’s bedding, and vacuum frequently to minimize exposure to these allergens. Additionally, consider using air purifiers or keeping windows closed during peak allergy seasons.
Plastic bowls should also be avoided whenever possible, as they can sometimes cause allergies and bald spots, primarily around the nose and chin area.
If you suspect that your Maltese might have an allergy, check with your veterinarian who will be able to run tests and recommend appropriate changes in diet or lifestyle to manage the allergy.
These pesky buggers not only cause a lot of discomfort for your Maltese, but they can also lead to hair loss due to constant scratching, licking, and biting.
Once you notice any signs of fleas, especially flea dirt (which looks like small black specks on your dog’s skin), it’s important to use a flea treatment and thoroughly clean your Maltese’s bedding and living areas to prevent reinfestation.
While there are many over-the-counter flea treatments available, make sure to talk with your veterinarian before choosing one, as some products may be more effective or safer than others.
When an infection occurs on the skin, whether it’s caused by bacteria, yeast, or both, it disrupts the normal hair growth cycle, leading to hair loss in that specific area.
Other signs of skin infection include redness, swelling, itching, and discharge. If you notice any of these symptoms on your Maltese’s skin, be sure to bring them to the attention of your veterinarian.
Fungal infections like ringworm are particularly common in dogs and can easily cause bald patches. For this, your vet may suggest antifungal cream or other treatments to help clear up the infection.
Pressure sores, also known as bedsores or pressure ulcers, are an often overlooked condition in Maltese dogs.
These painful wounds develop when continuous pressure is applied to a specific area of the skin, resulting in redness, swelling, or open wounds on bony parts such as the elbows, hips, or hocks.
If your Maltese is overweight, has limited mobility, or spends a lot of time lying in one position, they may be at risk for developing pressure sores.
To prevent pressure sores from forming, invest in a comfortable and supportive bed that distributes your Maltese’s weight evenly.
You can also help by encouraging them to change positions frequently and making sure they stay active and engaged throughout the day.
Hyperadrenocorticism (or Cushing’s disease) occurs when the dog’s body produces excessive amounts of cortisol, a hormone responsible for regulating various bodily functions.
This condition can cause a range of symptoms, including increased thirst and urination, weight gain, muscle weakness, and hair loss.
Other hormonal imbalances (for example, hypothyroidism) can also cause similar symptoms so it’s important to visit a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis.
Your vet may prescribe medication to regulate cortisol levels or, in rare cases, perform surgery to remove any tumors causing the excess cortisol production.
For hypothyroidism, treatment typically involves medication to replace the deficient thyroid hormone.
Anxiety (and sometimes boredom) can also cause an obsessive grooming reaction in dogs in which they constantly scratch, lick, or bite themselves to the point of baldness.
To help alleviate your Maltese’s stress, behavior modification and desensitization exercises may be necessary to help them overcome their stress triggers.
This can involve exposing them to the source of their anxiety in a controlled and gradual manner, rewarding calm behavior, and gradually increasing their tolerance over time.
Additionally, you’ll need to create a calm and consistent routine for your Maltese, provide them with plenty of mental and physical stimulation, and ensure they have a safe and comfortable space to retreat to when they need some quiet time.
In case of severe anxiety, a professional dog behaviorist or veterinarian may be necessary.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss in patches, leaving the affected areas completely bald. While it can be distressing, it’s generally not a serious or life-threatening condition and can be managed with proper care.
One of the key aspects of dealing with alopecia areata is identifying the underlying cause, which can be anything from allergies to skin infections or stress.
Treatment options depend on the underlying reason and may include antihistamines, antibiotics or antifungals, and steroids. In addition, nutritional supplements such as omega-3, biotin, zinc, and melatonin may be recommended to treat alopecia areata.
Most bald spots are usually caused by allergies or minor skin irritations, but they can also be indicative of underlying health issues or behavioral problems.
If you notice any other symptoms or the bald spot seems to be spreading or worsening, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian to come up with a proper diagnosis and treatment plan and rule out any serious conditions.