Why Is Your Dog’s Hair Turning White?

November 30, 2022

Your dog is part of the family, and it can be concerning to see its previously colorful and healthy hair starting to turn white. Could it signify something serious, or is it just part of the aging process?

Here are some reasons your dog's hair is turning white, so you can decide whether to seek professional help.

Old Age Or Genetics

Just like humans, dogs can show signs of aging. Some retain their natural color for longer or don't turn grey. If your dog has grey hair and is over the age of 5, it may be age-related. The hairs around the muzzle can be some of the first to show signs of grey. The exact age depends on the breed of the dog. For breeds that tend to be larger, they can visibly age sooner than smaller breeds, while others are less likely to turn grey entirely or at all.

If you're uncertain, a vet can provide more information tailored to your dog's breed, age, and health.

Vitiligo

If aging seems unlikely as the reason, it may be vitiligo.

Can dogs have vitiligo? It's rare for dogs to develop this skin condition. If you're noticing patches of fur where the color looks so faded that it stands out against the surrounding areas, it may be a pigmentation loss. Alternatively, vitiligo can affect the whole body.

This can also be linked to genetics because some breeds are more prone to vitiligo than others. Those more at risk include Dachshunds, Sheepdogs who previously had other colors in their hair, German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers.

If this is the reason, there is no way to reverse the fading. Many vets encourage people to ensure their dog gets lots of time outside in the natural sunlight to prevent or reduce further fading, and they may prescribe supplements such as Omega-3.

Stress

Stress is another factor that dogs share with humans, and it also can help to answer the common question, why do dogs go grey early? Some dogs are naturally confident and seem unafraid of anything, while others quickly become frightened and anxious around loud noises, strangers, and even flying insects.

If a vet confirms stress as the most likely cause of premature greying, this doesn't mean you've done anything wrong. However, you may reduce some of your dog's stress. For instance, if you watch television or listen to music, try reducing the volume or using headphones. If the noises making your dog nervous are from outside, you might decide to soundproof your home as much as possible. This will ensure loud traffic, fireworks and other noises are blocked out or reduced.

For factors you have little control over, you can help your dog relax by distracting them from things that make them anxious, stroking or brushing them, or providing toys that help alleviate the stress.

Undiagnosed Health Problems

If you're still concerned about your dogs hair turning grey, it could be a sign of an undiagnosed health problem. One possibility is hypothyroidism. This occurs because of underperforming thyroid glands. However, greying alone doesn't mean your dog has this. To explain this, there will be other symptoms, such as excessive weight gain, often without any change in diet or exercise. If you get the proper treatment for your dog, their hair can usually return to its normal color if hypothyroidism is the cause of fading.

It could also be a sign of Cushing's disease. Other symptoms can include thinning hair, excessive panting, and a potbelly. This can be treated with a prescription and only requires surgery if your dog has an adrenal tumor. With the proper treatment, this shouldn't pose a risk to your dog.

It could be a symptom of a kidney or liver disease in rarer cases. Before you panic, it's better to have your dog checked by a vet and get a professional diagnosis, which will lead to a suitable treatment for your dog.

You can book an appointment with Forever Vets. They are based in twelve locations and may have a branch near you. Forever Vets offer a range of diagnostic services, surgery care, and much more to help you look after the health and well-being of your dog.