Shedding in dogs is not a new phrase for most dog owners/parents. Dog shedding is a regular function that occurs typically in order to help dogs get rid of a former coat and grow a new one. Regardless of the fact that most dog parents don’t like shedding, it is, however, a very necessary occurrence.
It is very normal for some dog breeds to shed more than other breeds. The Siberian Huskies shed way more than other breeds like Poodles. Excessive shedding is always a cause of concern and should be a cause of concern as it may be a pointer to some infection, parasite, stress, improper diet, dog allergies, etc.
Shedding & non-shedding dog breeds
Some dog breeds often shed more than others. The heavy shedders use their double thick coats for protection from extremely cold temperatures.
Double-coated breeds like the Siberian Husky prepare for summer by blowing their coat (a process that lets them shed the soft undercoat). During this process, large clumps of hair come out and are quite enough to fill one or more trash bags. Some high shedders include;
- Alaskan Malamute
- American Eskimo
- Australian Shepherd
- Belgian Sheepdogs
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Border Collie
- Chow Chow
- German Shepherd
- German Shorthair Pointer
- Golden Retriever
- Great Pyrenees
- Labrador Retrievers
- Norwegian Elkhound
- Old English Sheepdog
- Saint Bernard
- Shiba Inu
- Siberian Husky
- Welsh Corgi
There are quite a number of breeds with very minimal or no shedding at all. The low-shedding breeds are referred to as ‘hypoallergenic’. Low-shedding dog breeds include;
- Afghan Hounds
- American Hairless Terrier
- Bedlington Terrier
- Bichon Frise
- Chinese Crested
- Coton de Tulear
- Giant Schnauzer
- Irish Water Spaniels
- Kerry Blue Terrier
- Lagotto RomagnoloMaltese
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Peruvian Inca Orchid
- Portuguese Water Dog
- Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
- Spanish Water Dog
- Standard Schnauzer
Why do dogs shed?
Just as it is with the covering of other animals, the hair on your dog’s body has a life cycle. The cycle comprises three phases including;
- Anagen phase: Active hair-growing phase
- Catagen phase: This is the phase when the hair stops growing
- Telegen phase: At this phase, the hair falls out and gets replaced
The coat comprises of three (3) hair types namely; primary, secondary, and tactile.
The primary hairs are found on the outer coat and are usually long and coarse. The secondary hairs are found in the undercoat and are characteristically soft in nature. Tactile hair whiskers, also referred to as sensual hairs are used to sense things in their immediate environment.
Shedding occurs when the hairs on your dog’s body have reached their growth peak in length and begin falling out. Some dog breeds shed seasonally while others do it all year round. During spring, dogs shed to have a lighter outer coat for summer and during the fall, dog shedding lets the dog have a thick and warmer undercoat to grow while preparing for the winter season.
Seasonal dog shedding is usually seen in outdoor dogs while indoor dogs are more likely to shed all year round because artificial light and heat inside the house do not provide the natural seasonal signs to control the dog shedding timing.
Shedding is not only a result of heat and light. Other health-related factors such as pregnancy, stress and anxiety play a key role in dog shedding as well.
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Below are some factors that could lead to excessive shedding in dogs;
Parasites and infections
Dog shedding can be caused by parasites such as fleas and ticks as well as fungal infections such as ringworm. When these parasites leave their saliva on your dog’s body after biting, your dog’s skin gets irritated and inflamed. This will cause your dog to resort to scratching and biting itself for relief and will gradually lead to hair loss.
Another factor that can lead to hair loss or dog shedding is improper nutrition. If you are feeding your dog some cheap low quality pet food, the wrong food for your dog’s age, you are likely to see signs of an unhealthy coat on your dog. Food with high levels of carbs can also result in an unhealthy coating. Last but not least, underfeeding, overfeeding and dehydration are also factors that can lead to unhealthy coating.
Dog shedding can also be a result of allergies from medications, fleas, mites, parasites, the environment, dog bath shampoos, the cleaning products in your house or some pet food ingredients. These allergies trigger the dog’s immune system which leads to the production of histamine to fight the allergens. In some cases, dog shedding is usually accompanied by notable dandruff.
Allergies in dogs are treated with prescribed drugs by a vet.
Stress is another factor that can result in dog shedding. Lack of attention, change of environment, the introduction of a new pet, etc. are all factors that can lead to stress. This type of shedding is often accompanied by an aggressive and excessive barking and loss of appetite.
Hyperthyroidism is a rare condition that occurs when your pet’s thyroid produces an excess amount of hormones. Hyperthyroidism typically occurs as a result of thyroid carcinoma, (an aggressive and fast-growing cancer of the thyroid). Conditions such as this can lead to excessive hair loss in your dog. Hyperthyroidism is a rare condition and is often accompanied by other symptoms such as;
- Augmented blood cholesterol
- Frequent and recurring infections of the ear and skin
- Rapid darkening of the skin color, etc
How to control dog Shedding
There is no particular way to completely stop dog shedding but there are definitely ways you can control it. They include;
- Brush your dog regularly
- Bathe frequently
- Help your dog stay hydrated
- Feed a high-quality diet
- Ensure you control pests on your dog
- Help reduce your dog’s stress level
Most dog breeds shed naturally and if you see your dog losing some hair, it is likely normal. But if you notice excessive shedding, a visit to the vet is always highly recommended.
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