Dog: Endocrine Skin Disorders

General information

Other common/scientific names: hypothyroidism, cushing’s syndrome, sex hormone imbalance, seasonal hair loss

The endocrine system is a group of glands that produce hormones used by the body. In addition to regulating many bodily functions, these hormones are vital for normal skin and haircoat production. The endocrine system includes the pituitary, pineal, thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal glands. It also includes the testes, ovaries and specific cells in the pancreas. Endocrine skin disorders are skin conditions caused by an abnormality in the hormone production by one of these glands.


  • Hypothyroidism: insufficient thyroid hormone production by the thyroid gland.
  • Cushing’s Syndrome: excessive cortisol production by the adrenal glands.
  • Sex hormone imbalance: abnormal estrogen, progesterone or testosterone production by the testes or ovaries. Can be caused by testicular tumors or ovarian tumors.
  • Seasonal Hair Loss: cause unknown by may be related to shortened daylight hours.

Cardinal symptom

Symmetrical hair loss


Endocrine skin disorders share hair loss as a common symptom. This pattern of hair loss is bilaterally symmetrical meaning it affects both sides of the dog evenly. Other similar signs include absence of pruritis (itchiness) and hyperpigmentation or blackening of the skin. Depending on the hormone involved, other clinical signs may be present.

Abb. GG0XWM0O: Endocrine Skin Disorder.
This is a photograph showing symmetrical hair loss commonly seen with endocrine disorders. The arrows are pointing to the hair loss pattern.


Endocrine skin disorders can be diagnosed by clinical signs, physical examination and laboratory testing. These tests include:


Treatment will depend on the diagnosis and includes:

  • Hypothyroidism: thyroid supplementation
  • Cushing’s syndrome: medication or surgery
  • Sex hormone imbalance: spaying or castration or hormone replacement
  • Seasonal hair loss: no treatment or melatonin supplementation


If properly diagnosed, endocrine skin disorders carry a good prognosis. With proper treatment, most respond well to treatment.

Update version: 4/24/2014, © Copyright by
Join the discussion!
- This article has no comments yet -

The information offered by enpevet Ltd. is intended solely for information purposes and and does under no circumstances replace a personal consultation, examination or diagnosis through a veterinarian. Thus, the information serves as an addition to the dialogue between pet owner and veterinarian, but can never replace the visit to the veterinarian. enpevet® would like to ask all users, whose animals have health concerns, to see a veterinarian as required. If you have any questions regarding the health of your animal, we recommend that you turn to your trusted veterinarian , instead of starting, changing or breaking off treatments on your own. The content of enpevet® cannot and should not be used for making your own diagnoses or for the selection and application of treatment methods.