by Lauren Romano
You've heard about Alopecia, also known as partial or full hair loss, in humans, but did you know that a form of it can also occur in our beloved pets? Many dogs and cats experience Seasonal Alopecia, which is a hair loss condition that causes the animal to lose hair in spots on their body predominately at the flank area between the ribs and hip. The good news is that it's treatable. One option is to use the Sol Box, which is the world's first light therapy box designed to provide simulated sunlight to cats and dogs everywhere. Pets naturally gravitate toward light whether it's via a sunbeam coming through a window in the living room or through a light therapy box, so it's a treatment they'll likely enjoy partaking in.
So what exactly is Seasonal Alopecia and how can light therapy help?
What is Seasonal Alopecia?
As its name suggests, Seasonal Alopecia happens during certain times per year and results in the animal losing fur typically at the flank area. The diagnosis comes after a series of tests are performed by a veterinarian to determine that the dog is not suffering from fleas, allergies, a fungal infection or a number of other triggers that can cause the animal to scratch at the area.
Seasons and breeds
Seasonal Alopecia usually occurs in French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, Scottish Terriers, Akitas, Bouvier de Flanders, Shar Peis, Giant Schnauzers, Airedale Terriers, Labrador Retrievers, Boxers and Doberman Pinschers. The condition typically happens during the fall and winter months when pets are likely to stay inside more often due to the changing weather conditions.
It's believed that Seasonal Alopecia occurs when the Pineal Gland, the pine cone shaped gland located at the base of the brain, does not receive enough sun exposure. The gland secretes melatonin, which in turn distributes info about lighting to the rest of the body and regulates circadian rhythms. The lack of sunlight in conjunction with the Pineal Gland is believed to be a reason for the bald spots at the flank area.
One course of treatment for Seasonal Alopecia is light therapy. The Sol Box by Pawsitive Lighting provides the animal with the “sunlight” that he cannot receive outdoors on a constant basis. The treatment requires that the pet be placed in the presence of a special therapy light for as little as 30 minutes a day although it's typically beneficial to use it for longer. Depending on where you live and the pet's condition, the light can be useful to use through all the seasons even after the hair has regrown in the affected areas.
Benefits of the Sol Box regarding Seasonal Alopecia
Light therapy can trigger the release of melatonin by the Pineal Gland and can spur regrowth of hair in the affected areas. It's also believed to be quite successful in preventing repeated issues of Seasonal Alopecia in the animal. Because it can take awhile for the hair to regrow, it's typically recommended to use the device year round.
The device is especially useful for those who can't always get their pets outside for an extended period of time, primarily on cloudy, snowy or rainy days when it's not advantageous to keep the animal outside for more than a few minutes and there's no sunlight to be found. While the therapy light is not a substitute for natural light, it can allow you to provide the animal with the recommended daily dose of sunlight all year long regardless of the weather outside and even after the pet's fur has grown back in.
Additional benefits of light therapy
The Sol Box is beneficial for Seasonal Alopecia as well as a slew of other conditions that can affect your pet.
Humans aren't the only ones who are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during the winter months when the nights are longer and days are shorter. Pets can also experience the Winter Blues and feel more lethargic as well as depressed. Including light therapy as part of your pet's daily routine can help keep his circadian rhythms in check and allow him to feel more energetic and happy regardless of what the weather is like outside. The best part is that using light therapy to help with your pet's Winter Blues doesn't involve using any type of drugs, but instead relies on letting the light do its job.
Although many pets happily lounge around and sleep, many actually experience sleep problems and don't sleep through the night. Light therapy can be advantageous for pet owners who are looking to help their sleepless companions. Their circadian rhythm could be off and using light therapy on a daily basis can make a big difference in getting the animal back on a sleep schedule and allow the pet to sleep through the night.
Did you know that some dogs may be aggressive because they're depressed? Recent studies found that some aggressive pets had low levels of serotonin (the happy hormone) and higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone). Light therapy can aid with lowering the levels of cortisol as well as increasing levels of serotonin. If you're noticing aggressive behaviors in your pet, it could be beneficial to give light therapy a try.
One of the best aspects of trying out light therapy is that it could prevent the animal from having to be on medications that often have unpleasant side effects. In addition, many pet medications aren't cheap and can cause you to take a big hit to your wallet, especially if your companion has to take them long term. Light therapy is a natural alternative that could positively affect the animal in a variety of ways without the side effects and high price tag.
How to use the Sol Box
The best course of action is to put the light box near the pet's bed or crate where the animal can lay for 30 minutes or more in front of the device and thoroughly absorb the light. It's large enough that it can provide enough light to your pet while still being small enough to fit in a variety of spaces whether it's out and being used or being stored away until the following day. It's also easily transportable, so even when you're on the go, the light can go with you. Light therapy does not involve using UV light and doesn't produce any heat.
Before starting light therapy, it's important to consult with a vet to get an official diagnosis of your pet's condition and come to an agreement over a course of treatment. Seeking light therapy for Seasonal Alopecia may require a prescription for Melatonin in addition to purchasing the light, treating other conditions may just require the one-time purchase of the light without the additional prescription. One of the best parts of using the light is that you, as a pet owner, can get use of it as well! It can be a great thing for the both of you to do while you're relaxing together at the end of the day.