Why Does My Dog Shed?
There’s no shortage of research about the stress-relieving effect of cuddling with a furry friend. But if your dog leaves tufts of hair around the house, it might not feel like much of a cuddle. Do you ask yourself ‘why does my dog shed?’ Well, shedding comes naturally for dogs – it helps them regulate their body temperature and eliminate old or damaged fur. Seasonal changes may affect how much your dog sheds, i.e., they may shed more in spring to get rid of their winter coat and less in summer.
Some dogs shed year-round, while others may go through a heavy shedding phase just once or twice a year. Shedding is something you’d expect, regardless of age, gender, or breed.
But Why Is Mine Shedding Too Much?
If your dog is an excessive shedder, it could be due to genetics, health problems, poor nutrition, or stress. Let’s talk about how these things factor in.
It’s a fact of life – some breeds are likely to shed more than others. It’s particularly evident in Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and German Shepherds – all notorious shedders. But other breeds like Poodles, Shih Tzus, and Yorkies are known as non-shedding or low-shedding dogs.
While you can’t do much about your dog’s genes, you can take some measures to keep the shedding under control.
A handful of health conditions may cause excessive shedding in dogs. These include:
Allergies – Dogs can be allergic to many things, including pollen, grass, and certain foods. Allergic reactions often manifest in the form of itchy skin, which the dog may scratch excessively. It’ll lead to hair loss and, eventually, shedding.
Hormonal imbalances – An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) or under-active adrenal glands (hypoadrenocorticism) are possible culprits for a dog’s fur to fall out in patches.
Parasites – Fleas, ticks, and other parasites are not only a nuisance but may also cause your dog to shed excessively. These tiny pests will force your dog to scratch incessantly, resulting in hair loss and shedding.
Poor nutrition – A lack of certain nutrients in your dog’s diet may lead to excessive shedding. For example, a deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to shedding and dry skin in dogs.
If you suspect your dog’s excessive shedding may be due to a health problem, make an appointment with your veterinarian. They’re equipped to diagnose the issue and recommend the best treatment course.
Like humans, dogs can get stressed out. Unfortunately, some dogs may start to shed excessively when they’re anxious or stressed, which in turn could be caused by any of the following:
Changes in routine – If there’s been a recent change in your dog’s routine, i.e., you started spending more time or hiring a dog sitter, it may stress them out.
Loud noises – Dogs have sensitive hearing, and loud noises like thunder and fireworks can be jarring.
Moving to a new home – Whether moving to a new house or apartment, the scenery change may add extra stress to your pup.
Identifying What’s Normal and What’s Not
So how do you know if your dog is shedding too much? The best way to find out is to note the amount of hair they’re losing and compare it to what’s normal for their breed.
For example, if you have a Labrador Retriever, it’s not unusual for them to lose hair daily. But if you’ve noticed an uptick in the hair they’re shedding; it may be excessive.
On the other hand, if you have a non-shedding breed like a Poodle, any shedding is cause for concern.In short, it’s essential to know what’s normal for your dog so you can identify when the shedding becomes excessive.
Also, abnormal shedding is typically accompanied by the following:
Excessive itching and rubbing – If your dog can’t seem to stop scratching, it’s likely due to an underlying skin issue.
Patches of missing fur – If you notice any bald spots or patches of missing fur, it’s a cause for concern.
Dry, flaky skin – In addition to excessive shedding, dry and flaky skin is another tell-tale sign of a skin issue.
You can’t afford to sit idle if your furry buddy exhibits any of those signs. The best response is the take the dog to the vet.
What Can I Do About Excessive Shedding?
Now that we’ve gone over why your dog may be shedding excessively let’s talk about what you can do about it.
1. Brush them regularly.
One of the simplest things you can do to reduce shedding is to brush your dog regularly. It’ll help remove any loose or dead hair from their coat before it has a chance to fall out.
Be sure to use a brush designed for your dog’s fur type. And yes, brushes are made for specific fur types. A bristle brush is meant for short hair, while a comb is more effective for long hair.
2. Give them regular baths.
Another way to reduce shedding is to give your dog regular baths. It’ll help remove loose hair from their coat and leave their skin feeling healthy and hydrated.
When bathing your dog, be sure to use mild shampoo for canines. And avoid washing them too often as it’ll dry out their skin.
3. Feed them a healthy diet.
We already talked about how poor nutrition leads to excessive shedding. So, it’s your job to feed your dog a healthy diet that contains all the essential nutrients they need.
Talk to your veterinarian if you’re unsure what to feed your dog. They can recommend food based on your dog’s specific needs.
4. Keep them well-hydrated.
Dogs must be hydrated. It’ll show in their coat if they’re not getting enough water. It’ll become dry, brittle, and more prone to shedding.
The best way to ensure your dog gets enough water is to have a water bowl always filled with fresh water. Consider incorporating wet food into their diet as it contains a high water content.
Excessive shedding can be stressful for both you and your dog. But fortunately, there are things you can do to reduce the amount of hair they lose. The most important thing is to identify the underlying cause so you can target the solution. If all else fails, go and see a vet for a professional opinion.