As a dog owner, you should be prepared to have pet hair on your sofa and carpets, scattered on your bedsheets, sticking to your clothes, and even in your hair if you look closely!
While some people develop fur blindness and accept the fact that they have to put vacuuming as a part of their everyday schedule, it’s essential to pay attention to the amount of hair your dog sheds. Strange as it may seem, it can be your tool to keep an eye on your dog’s health status and mood.
However, to be able to do that, you should know the difference between average and excessive shedding and the reasons behind both. In this article, we’re going to explore the causes of excessive hair loss in dogs and share a few tips on how to minimize it. So, stay tuned and enjoy the read.
Understand Normal Dog’s Shedding
Let’s get one thing straight first! Unless you’re the pet parent of a Basenji, American Hairless Terrier, or any other breed that doesn’t have a layer of fur surrounding its body, you’re bound to deal with dog hair.
Many factors affect normal shedding in dogs, the first of which is the breed. The thing is, almost all breeds shed, and unlike the common misconception, the length of your dog’s hair and its fur type has nothing to do with how much it sheds.
For instance, among the top breeds that shed are the German Shepherd and Boston Terrier. The former has a long fuzzy double coat while the latter has short hair, and both of them shed too much that you can knit yourself a sweater from their fur.
Other dog hair shedding machines include American Eskimo Dogs, Beagles, Chow Chows, Siberian huskies, and Labrador retrievers. However, there are other breeds that lose less hair, such as Poodles, Shih Tzu, and Border Terriers.
Another factor that relates to the natural shedding season is the weather. Although some breeds lose hair slowly throughout the year, others lose their whole coats in specific seasons, usually the transitional ones.
During the spring, you’ll find that your dog like a golden retriever is lightening its winter coat gradually to regulate its body temperature for the summer months. In fall, it’ll Replace its summer coat with a heavier one in preparation for the cold weather.
These transitions can also happen if there is a sudden rise or drop in the temperature, so sometimes there is no need to worry if your dog starts shedding outside these specific months.
Note that year-round shedding isn’t always noticeable since it comes from the undercoat rather than the surface fur. On the other hand, seasonal shedding can alarm pet owners since sometimes it’ll feel like your dog has suddenly had a haircut at a barber’s. So, that takes us to the next question: when should we be concerned?
When to Get Concerned About Excessive Dog Shedding?
It’s extremely important for pet parents to know the baseline shedding of their pet along with the frequency of their shedding process to be able to detect the changes.
Your dog maybe just one of the heavy shedders out there. However, if you start noticing abnormal shedding outside the hair loss seasons, that’s when you should get concerned.
Most of the time, it’ll be an issue that can be dealt with at home, but sometimes a trip to the veterinarian can be inevitable. Here are some of the warning signs that call for a Veterinarian’s visit:
- Bald spots appear on its skin
- Hair falls from one place only
- Individual hairs don’t feel thick in your fingers like they used to be
- Itchy or dry skin
- Excessive rubbing on its skin and face with its paws
- Decline in hair growth even in the cold winter season
- Individual hairs break in your hand when you pass your finger through its coat
- Skin irritation on the belly, back, feet, or skin folds.
Causes of Excessive Shedding
Determining the underlying health issues behind the loose fur is the key to give your pet proper care and treatment. Here are five of the common health reasons your dog might be shedding a lot.
Malnutrition and Imbalanced Diet
Just like people, dogs can suffer from damaged hair due to poor diet and nutritional deficiency. Experts say that cheap food products from discount stores that lack a balanced diet can cause obesity, excessive shedding, and other dog allergies related to hair loss in canines. Moreover, it can cause their coats to become dull and brittle, and their hair loses its shine.
Wrong food, improper grooming tools, and some shampoo choices can trigger an allergic reaction in your dog that causes its hair to fall. Also, some medications that your dog may be taking for another medical condition can be why it’s suffering from skin allergies.
Consulting a veterinarian in these cases is the best choice. They’ll help you detect the possible allergens making the shedding increase and administer preventative treatments to handle the situation early.
Among the potential health problems that cause your dog to shed more than normal are hormonal imbalances like hypothyroidism and some immune diseases that cause thyroid problems such as Cushing’s disease.
There are Other health conditions that aren’t necessarily diseases but can cause your dog to shed excessively for a temporary period. For example, if your dog is pregnant, you’ll notice that she’s losing a lot of hair from her abdominal area.
Also, nursing dogs and those who have just undergone neutering or spaying can have unhealthy coats due to testosterone and estrogen imbalance.
Stress may not be evident in dogs like it is in humans, but it has its ways of showing in the amount of fur your dog is losing. Many reasons can account for your dog’s uneasiness, including changes in its routine, having a new pet at home, and the increase in veterinarian trips.
Skin Conditions and Parasites
If you notice that your pet is shedding much and scratching its irritated skin, it can be an indicator of bacterial or fungal infections. Don’t rule out an unexpected infestation of parasites just because you take proper care of your canine’s hygiene. These have many other causes, and even house pets can get infected with scabies and ringworm.
Tips to Control Excessive Hair Loss in Furry Dogs
Now that we’ve thrown some light upon the potential causes of excessive shedding, let’s check some tips to help keep your dog’s coat healthy.
1. Give Your Dog Regular Baths
The best home remedy for excessive hair loss is treating your dog for a nice bath on a regular basis with a deshedding shampoo and conditioner. This will help remove the excess hair, soothe your dog’s skin, prevent bacterial infections, and create healthy hair follicles instead of loose ones.
The frequency by which you should bathe and groom your dog depends on its breed. For example, for dogs with soft and curly hair such as Poodles and Bedlington Terriers, two baths per week is enough. On the other hand, double-coated dogs like Labradors, whose coats consist of a thick outer layer of hair and a fluffy undercoat, may require daily grooming.
All in all, make sure you choose suitable bathing products for your dog’s breed and if you’re not sure, try consulting a professional groomer or your dog’s veterinarian about the best grooming supplies.
2. Pick the Correct Brush
Different coats demand different brushes. It won’t make any sense to use the same shedding tool on a Maltese that you would use on a Huskie. Sure, there are endless types of dog brushes; however, these are the major types:
- Bristle brush: These have short and tightly-packed bristles that can be used on short to medium-haired pets like Pegs and Jack Russel Terriers.
- Slicker brush: These have spaced and longer wires to remove mats and tangles from long curly-haired dogs.
- Coat rake: These are designed to remove the dead hair from double-coated breeds and thick-haired dogs like German Shepherds.
Whichever brush you choose, make sure to massage your dog with a hound mitt first to remove dead hair and distribute skin oils. Then, brush your dog in the hair growth direction multiple times until less and less hair is pulled out.
Pro tip: Never work a comb or brush in the opposite direction of your dog’s coat. Apart from the unnecessary ripping and tearing that will happen, it can cause your dog skin irritation and further increase the shedding we are trying to avoid.
If your dog is avoiding you, pinning its ears back, refusing food, or panting and yawning more than usual, it might be showing signs of stress. Shower your furry friend with love and increase your playtime with it. Also, watch out for the situations that make your dog anxious and provide it with a safe place at home to escape to at such times.
3. Make a Healthy Diet Plan
By making simple changes to your dog’s diet, you can reduce its shedding. Eliminate any ingredients that can be causing food allergies and ensure proper nutrition by giving it quality food balanced in proteins, fatty acids, vitamins, and carbohydrates.
If your dog still shows diet-related shedding symptoms, try supplementing it with olive oil and flaxseed oil as they contain omega 3, which helps improve overall coat texture and reduce loose hair.
4. Up Your Dog’s Water Intake
Just like humans, dehydration can lead to dry skin, which in the case of dogs, manifests itself as excessive shedding. Pay attention to the amount of water in your dog’s bowl, and if you notice that your pet isn’t drinking much, try preparing multiple bowls of water and spread them in different spots at home.
Also, you might not succeed in convincing your dog to drink more, but some bone broth or chicken flavoring in the water it drinks might be able to.
5. Manage the Underlying Health Issue
Finally, if these tips don’t work out or you notice any of the warning signs we mentioned earlier in this article, it’s about time for your dog to pay the veterinarian a visit. There may be an underlying disorder causing all the other measures to fail in reducing the shedding.
Expect your dog to undergo antibiotic treatment for a bacterial infection or take supplements for hormonal imbalance. After all, your veterinarian’s opinion will be better than any home remedy.
At the end of the day, your dog’s coat health says more than you think! It can help you tell whether your dog is happy, sad, irritated, or having a hard time. We hope this guide helps pet owners get ready for the shedding seasons and maybe reduce the agonizing vacuuming chores that come with fall and spring.