While cairn terriers suffer from their own breed-specific set of health problems, hair loss is common to many dog breeds and can have any number of sources. Cairns are especially allergic to flea saliva: flea bites can cause papules, crusts, scales on the skin and hair loss if not properly and promptly treated. If you notice your dog itching more often than normal and also losing its hair, the reason might be food allergies. If your cairn isn’t getting the daily exercise and mental stimulation it needs, it could be a case of neurodermatitis.
Itching and “digging” with its mouth is a sign that your cairn might have fleas. Since the cairn is allergic to flea bites, you will most likely notice other skin symptoms, like papules (raised, swollen, pimple-like areas that do not excrete pus), scales and hair loss. If left untreated, these can develop into an infection or hot spots. Visit your veterinarian so she can prescribe a flea treatment and a monthly preventative treatment. Your vet will also be able to suggest remedies for resulting skin problems from flea bites.
Purebred dogs often have more sensitive stomachs than mixed-breeds, so it is important to feed them well right from the start. Less expensive dog food is often full of corn, soy and wheat, none of which is a natural component of a dog’s diet. Remember, your purebred cairn comes from a long line of purebred cairns, so you can theoretically trace your dog’s natural diet along with its ancestors. If you feed your cairn dry dog food, choose a high quality brand whose first ingredient is meat, not corn, wheat, soy or a meat by-product. Many skin problems are the result of a poor diet. Don’t be afraid to supplement your dog’s diet with vegetables and fruits, like carrots, butternut squash, green beans and blueberries.
Anxiety and Neurodermatitis
Cairns may be small, but like most small breed dogs, they have lots of energy. Dogs who spend most of their days in a crate or don’t get the exercise and stimulation they require can develop neurodermatitis, an anxiety condition that will cause skin irritation and hair loss. There are other causes of neurodermatitis, as well, such as sudden changes in a dog’s environment. A new person in the house or moving to a new place might trigger neurodermatitis. Address these changes and establish a healthy exercise routine. Remember, a tired dog is a happy (and healthy) dog.
Based in Fort Collins, Colo., Dannah Swift has been writing since 2009. She writes about green living, careers and the home garden. Her writing has appeared on various websites. She holds a Master of Arts in English literature from the University of New Hampshire and is currently pursuing a certificate in paralegal studies.