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Hair Loss, Shedding, Balding, and Unkempt Hair in Cats and Dogs

Shedding, unkempt hair, and hair loss in pets are extremely common complaints among owners.   In many cases, shedding is normal and harmless for the pet.  However, hair loss leading to baldness, or hair loss accompanied by itchy, red, scabby, moist, or malodorous skin usually is linked to a medical problem.

Common Causes

More common causes are listed first.  Less common causes are listed later.

Scratching or Licking the Skin (Itching) in Cats and Dogs

Scratching and licking the skin generally have similar causes. Excessively licking the skin is a way of scratching the skin. Skin irritation leading to itching is responsible for most instances of excessive licking and scratching.

A certain level of scratching or licking is considered normal in all animals. Also, both cats and dogs groom themselves with their tongues. Therefore, it is important to determine whether your pet is scratching or licking excessively, or whether he or she is engaging in normal behavior.