Dog owners tend to watch their pets with the precision of a hawk at times. Not for nefarious reasons, but because they’re worried about pets’ well-being. That’s why most are quick to catch even the slightest in coat color. But can dogs change from black to white?
Yes, dogs can change from black to white. A dog’s coat color can turn white for several reasons, including stress, genetics, and age. It’s also possible for a dog’s fur to turn white due to health conditions and a skin disease called Vitiligo.
If you want to learn more about sudden changes in your pet’s fur, you just got lucky. This doggy-centric feature is entirely dedicated to discussing why a dog’s fur can turn white and what you can do about it. Ready?
Why Is My Dog’s Fur Changing From Black To White
It can be a bit disconcerting to notice your dog’s fur changing color for no apparent reason. And, dog parents’ anxieties can tend to skyrocket, especially if their pet is young and in the prime of its life.
However, changes in fur color aren’t always a sign of a bigger problem. Sometimes it’s prompted by the natural processes of your pet’s body. Here are some of the most popular reasons that can cause your canine’s fur to turn white.
All living beings are susceptible to stress. Everyone, from humans to fish and even dogs, can face physical side-effects of anxiety. Stress can affect the stem cells that control and regenerate hair pigment when it comes to fur color changes. That’s what can cause your pet’s fur to change color from black (or dark) to white.
Canines can feel stressed for various reasons. Anything from a change in your pet’s everyday routine to significant developments like adding a new pet to the family can induce feelings of strain in your canine.
What’s worse is that stress isn’t easy to identify in dogs. Canines have singular personalities and tend to respond to pressure in unique ways. However, there are specific sure-shot signs of stress that can help you identify whether your pet’s suffering from a bad bout of nerves. These include:
● Excessive barking or whining
● Excessive licking or drooling
● Out of season shedding
● Hiding or withdrawing from human contact/company
Besides stress, genetics can also be a significant factor for canines developing grey hair.
Some breeds of dogs, such as Poodles, Schnauzers, and Collies, are predisposed to early greying because of the presence of what experts call chromosome 25. This particular chromosome contains the Melanophilin protein – the mutation that’s responsible for lighted coat colors.
Another reason for white pigmentation in dogs is the MITF (Microphthalmia Associated Transcription Factor) gene that can lack melanocytes (cells that contain pigment).
Dogs experience physiological changes as they age – like humans. These changes can be mental and physical. That’s why black or dark-colored dogs can experience greying (hair turning white) as they age. The science behind it is that as your pup gets older, the pigment cells responsible for giving hair color tend to die off.
The lack of pigment cells means that your dog’s fur ends up losing its original color and turning plain white.
If you notice your canine fur developing abundant white hair as it approaches the 5-year mark. On the other hand, if your pet’s fur starts changing color drastically, it’s time to book a visit to the vet and have your pet checked out.
Believe it or not, certain medical conditions can also cause your canine to develop white hair. These conditions include hyperthyroidism or kidney disease.
Hyperthyroidism is when your pet’s body starts producing an excess of the thyroid hormone, which can speed up your pet’s metabolic rate to unhealthy levels. While hyperthyroidism isn’t too common in dogs, it can seriously affect your pet’s health if present.
The symptoms of hyperthyroidism in canines include:
● Weight loss
● Increased appetite and amount of stool
● Increased thirst and urination
● Shortness of breath
● Fast heart rate
Kidney disease in dogs is classified as an illness or condition that affects the normal functioning of kidneys. Impaired kidney function in canines can result from congenital issues, geriatric degeneration, bacterial infections, etc. Signs of kidney disease in dogs include:
● Pale gums
● Decrease in appetite
● Increase/decrease in drinking water
● Increase/decrease in urination
● Uncoordinated movements
If your canine is showing one or more symptoms of the aforementioned conditions, it’s best to have your vet check your dog as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment.
Vitiligo is a type of rare skin condition that can affect humans, felines, and canines. It’s classified as a hereditary condition and isn’t contagious. Veterinarians aren’t sure what exactly causes animals to develop vitiligo, although experts suggest that it could be related to something interfering with your pet’s ability to produce melanin.
Symptoms of vitiligo include white patches on skin and hair coat, specifically around a canine’s nose and face. You should also note that this condition is also more common in dog breeds like German Shepherd, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Dachshunds, etc.
At What Age Do Dogs Fur Turn White
A dog’s fur turns white as the melanin-producing cells begin to die off due to age. While there’s no set limit as to when a dog’s hair can turn white – it’s generally when your pet nears or enters its senior years.
How fast canines age can also matter; large dog breeds tend to age faster than smaller ones. That means dogs can start developing white (or grey) hair from the five-year mark to 10 years – depending on their breed.
Things To Consider
Your lovable canine developing white hair isn’t always a cause for concern. However, there are specific warning signals you should be aware of when white hair can point to more significant problems. Here’s what a few of them are.
● When Your Pet Started Developing White Hair
If you notice a sudden increase in white hair on your dog’s fur and it’s nowhere near its golden years, it’s best to have your vet look over your canine. A sudden increase in white hair can indicate thyroid or kidney concerns and should never be ignored.
● Frequency of White Hair or Patches
If your furball develops a white or two over the years without symptoms like vomiting or weight loss, you don’t need to worry. However, if the frequency of white hair patches on your pet’s fur is growing at a fast rate, even without any other symptoms – book a visit to the vet. Vitiligo is often known to develop suddenly.