Dogs shed. Every dog, every size does some shedding. It’s a fact of life and a fact that every dog lover accepts. You’re going to have dog hair in your house, it’s just the price you pay for having your best friend present. But there are ways to prevent some shedding and ways to deal with the dog hair better.
Why Do Dogs Shed?
Put simply, dogs shed their coats so new coats can grow in their place. The thick winter coat falls off so the lighter summer coat can grow in. Then the summer coat fades away so the thick winter coat can keep the pet warm. The amount of shedding varies greatly between breeds and individual dogs. Dogs with thick undercoats, like huskies, collies, and Australian shepherds, shed more than dogs without the thick coat, like terriers, English setters, and bloodhounds.
Shedding is brought on by hormonal changes triggered by the change in the amount of daylight. Increasing daylight triggers the body to release a hormone that says, “Summer’s coming. Let’s get rid of this thick coat.” This process can take between three and eight weeks. Dogs that are primarily inside aren’t exposed to the same light and temperature fluctuations. Their shedding may be spread more evenly throughout the year and their winter coats may not get as thick as the dogs that spend more time outside.
How to Prevent Shedding
Dogs are going to shed and there is no way to completely avoid it. But it can be lessened or somewhat mitigated. Brush your dog daily. This will help get the loose hair out in a controlled manner so it doesn’t end up flying around your house. Control allergies and fleas. If your pets are scratching at themselves, more hair will come loose. And bathe your dog occasionally. By using an oatmeal shampoo, you can get your dog clean without drying out their skin too much. Clean hair is healthier, but remember dogs are not people and do not need to bathe very frequently.
Tools to Use
Did you know that there are many different kinds of brushes? All brushes are not created equal. The different brushes at the pet store are not only there to get you to buy more products, they all serve a different purpose. Slicker brushes work well with all coat types. Pin brushes are made for long and silky coats. Bristle brushes are best for short and wiry coats. Shedding blades are perfect for coats that are a combination of things. Undercoat rakes are designed for heavy coats and dogs with thick double coats. Deshedding tools and brushes can attack short or long hair, thick or thin hair, and can handle heavy double coats. Pets may need more than one kind of brush to do the job effectively.
Using the right brush will go a long way to keeping the loose hair out of your house, but it won’t keep it all out. Cover the furniture and the car seats with covers designed to stay in place. This will help you control the hair and the smell of the dog. And don’t forget to vacuum regularly to stay on top of the hair situation.
When to Visit the Vet
Excessive shedding is unusual and may indicate something more severe going on with your dog. Excessive shedding can be caused by stress, poor nutrition, or an underlying medical condition like pregnancy or cancer. Stress can be an emotional state, like a recent move or issues at home, but it could also indicate pain, like arthritis or intestinal pain. Poor nutrition could be as easy as adding a fatty acid supplement or switching foods to a higher quality formulation. High-quality foods with easily digestible proteins can reduce the amount a dog sheds. Underlying medical conditions may include issues with nutrient absorption, pregnancy or lactation, or something potentially more serious like cancer. But what may seem like excessive shedding to one dog, may be perfectly normal to another.
It is time to contact the vet if you see bald spots, open sores, skin irritation, bumps, rashes, dull or dry hair, a lot of scratching, face rubbing, or foot licking. These are warning signs that something else may be going on and it is important for your vet to know if you see these.
Dogs shed. Sometimes it seems like they will never stop shedding. However, this is normal for dogs. Their bodies tell them when it is time to shed the old coat and grow a new one. But by brushing your dog daily with the proper tool, you can reduce the amount of hair flying around your house. Watch out for warning signs, like skin irritation, that may indicate something else is going on. Enjoy your dog, even when he’s shedding. After all, it’s not his fault. It’s just the way he’s built and you love him.