Fur – fur everywhere! Is this a normal part of owning a dog? All dogs shed, and some breeds “blow” their coat twice a year, resulting in, well, fur everywhere. However, there IS something such as excessive shedding in dogs, and pet parents can take steps to stop it—or at least lessen the amount of shedding.
Dogs with double coats, particularly huskies, German Shepherds, and Border Collies, will shed during the fall and spring, but they also have a tendency to “blow” their coats. This is a normal thing for these breeds as they need to shed that extra layer in order to grow in the winter and summer coats. However, pet parents should never despair—there are ways to lessen the effects of the “blow.”
What Causes a Dog to Shed Excessively?
We’ve already established that some hair shedding in dogs is natural; some breeds will shed more than others. We’ll look at ways you can control dog shedding at least twice a year. However, there are some instances where a dog is experiencing a medical condition that causes excessive shedding or hair loss.
There are mites that can cause a dog to lose its hair. Dogs can also experience canine scabies, and mange is caused by mites too. These mites live on the dog’s skin, and they will cause a dog to lose hair. If you begin to notice your dog losing hair in patches, a trip to the vet for the proper treatment may be in order. It is also important that pet parents separate a dog with mange from other canines in the household; the mites can “jump” from one host to another.
2. Fungal infections
You may have associated a case of ringworm with cats, but ring worm can affect dogs too. This fungal infection can cause hair loss as well as brittle nails, and itchy, flaky skin. Again, because this is a fungal infection, you’ll need to get medical attention for your dog in order to kill the infection and get your dog’s skin healthy again.
We, humans, know that stress can cause health problems for ourselves, but, even so, we do not know the extent to which stress can cause harm to our own bodies. Therefore, it is reasonable that we can not truly understand how stress can affect our pets. While humans understand that stress can cause us to have high blood pressure and headaches, we are only scratching the surface of how this issue can wreak havoc on our own health. Stress can have a detrimental effect on our dog’s health. While we have outlets for our stress, dogs often do not. So it is reasonable to expect that stress can have horrific effects on the health of our canine buddies.
Stress in your dog can manifest itself in hair loss. It is paramount that pet parents work to understand what is stressing the dog. It could be a new pet, the loss of a pet companion, or even a change in the dog’s routine. If you can’t find the root of your dog’s stress, contact your vet for treatment options.
We don’t think about our dogs getting sunburned—surely they can’t get sunburned with all that fur, right? Quite the opposite—for certain dogs, anyway.
Dogs with very light fur, blue eyes, and pink skin (especially if one can see their skin under the white or thin fur) can be sunburned. It is important not to allow these dogs to stay outdoors without some type of protection.
A simple thyroid imbalance can cause your dog to lose hair. To know for certain that your dog is suffering from hormonal imbalance, your vet will need to do some blood work.
If you yourself have ever experienced the aggravation that is allergies, then you can somewhat understand what your pet is feeling. Dogs with allergies often have reactions that are not diagnosed or misdiagnosed; it is often “trial and error” when it comes to diagnosing a dog with allergies. These allergies can have all types of causes, from the food he eats to a reaction to shampoo. Hair loss is often a common symptom of a food allergy; once again, you and your vet will have to go through removing certain things from your dog’s routine or diet in order to find the true culprit of the allergy.
My Dog Doesn’t Have Any Medical Issues That are Causing His Excessive Hair Loss. Now What?
You may have to regale yourself to preparing for the periodic sheds. While you can’t completely STOP Fido’s shedding, particularly if he belongs to the double coat breeds, you CAN lessen the effect of the coat blow and another normal shedding.
1. Commit to brushing your dog at least every other day.
Most pet parents owning a double-coated dog breed commit to brushing their dog daily. Remember the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? In this case, you will spend ten to fifteen minutes brushing Fido daily, but it will prevent you from spending an hour or more during shedding season cleaning up after the resulting tumbles of dust and dander when Fido blows that coat.
It is much easier to brush Fido once a day to help remove some of the loosening hair. Plus, look at this as bonding time for you and your pup. Most dogs love to be brushed, and there are brushes available that make brushing time feel as if Fido is getting a massage.
2. Choose the right brush for your dog’s breed.
The Wire-Pin Brush
Dogs with curly or woolly coats may benefit from a wire-pin brush.
The Bristle Brush
A bristle brush works on almost all types of coats. However, you can choose the right bristles for your dog’s coat. A brush with stiff bristles may be necessary for dogs with a coarse coat. A dog with long, fine hair would benefit from a bristle brush with longer, widely spaced bristles.
The Slicker Brush
A slicker brush has fine wire bristles; it is chiefly used for removing tangles and cleaning up areas where the fur has become matted. This is typically good for Poodle grooming.
3. You can also comb your dog’s hair.
A rubber curry comb has two uses. Pet parents can use the rubber curry comb to “massage” the dog’s skin, and the rubber curry comb can remove dead hair from dogs with a short coat—making shed hair less plentiful.
4. You can use a shedding tool on your dog during the spring and fall.
A shedding tool is specifically designed to reduce the amount of hair your dog will eventually shed. These tools remove dead hair painlessly from your dog’s coat. There is no one design for shedding tools. Some shedding tools have serrated teeth that work to pluck out dead hairs before they are naturally shed. Other shedding tools have closely spaced teeth that have the same effect. Most of the time, this hair has already started to separate from the healthy coat; your dog will not feel any pain when you use a shedding tool on her. These shedding tools work directly on the undercoat, which is what your dog will “blow” during the spring and fall.
5. Increase your dog’s daily water intake.
Water does a body good; in this case, it can help your dog with excessive shedding. Your dog should drink one ounce of water per pound of her body weight each day. Seems like a lot, right? However, that’s the accepted rule for water consumption in canines. Now, it is often tricky to monitor water intake. However, dehydrated skin has a tendency to shed more hair than a dog without symptoms of dehydration. You may want to invest in a gravity-fed water bowl that will ensure your dog has all the water she needs at all times.
6. Make sure your dog is eating a healthy diet.
What your dog eats is so important for so many reasons. We mentioned allergies earlier. It is vitally important for your dog to get an all-natural and balanced diet that does not include preservatives, artificial flavors, or other chemicals that can harm your dog. Look at the ingredient label of your dog’s chow. You want to avoid dry dog food that contains corn, meat by-products, and artificial preservatives, and flavoring as well as artificial colors. Many dog owners and vets also find omega 3 fatty acids in fish oils and other supplements helpful in keeping dogs’ skin and fur healthy, reducing excessive shedding.
Gluten and corn can also have a nasty effect on your dog’s digestive system and hair. Not only should you look for a dog food that claims to be free of grain and gluten, but you should read that ingredient list to make sure there is no high fructose corn syrup or flour or the like in the food. Keep in mind that brown rice typically is safe for dogs, but if you see the word “enriched” in front of rice, then you could have an issue with gluten. Corn is also often an allergen for dogs. They may display symptoms such as hair loss and an upset stomach.
7. Be sure to regularly groom your dog.
Brushing Fido daily or every other day is only one part of the grooming process. You’ll want to also look into treatments that you can add to her bath in order to lessen shedding.
Simply bathing your dog as you normally would help to loosen the dead hair in her coat. However, you can add a de-shedding shampoo to the mix (there are de-shedding conditioners as well) to help in not only loosening this dead hair, but these products can also hydrate and soften your dog’s skin and keep it healthy .
With that said, be careful about the ingredients in the shampoo and conditioner you choose for your dog! Just as you did with Fido’s dog food, you should look at the ingredient list to determine if there are artificial or potentially dangerous additives in your dog’s shampoo and conditioner.
If you see lots of chemically sounding ingredients on the list, you’d do well to avoid that product. If the color of the product is unnatural (bright blue or pink, for instance), then you should avoid the product. If the product has a strong scent, then you should avoid it. These products may claim to be natural but they advertise to be such. Because the FDA has more lenient regulations when it comes to pet products, you can’t trust that the chemicals and fragrances used in these products are safe for Fido. A truly all-natural soap/shampoo/conditioner is typically a dull, yellow color with a very light scent if any at all.
1. What can I give my dog to stop shedding?
Work on Fido’s diet and make sure she is getting enough water every day. Brush your dog to lessen the amount of dead hair in her coat—it is easier to clean a brush full of dead hair than to sweep or vacuum the entire house (or the couch!) when Fido starts seasonal shedding.
If you have done these things and Fido still loses a lot of hair, then you may need to see your vet ensure there are no health issues causing the excess hair loss.
2. What causes a dog to shed excessively?
There are many reasons a dog sheds excessively. It can be an allergy to the dog’s food or a lack of water in her diet. Dogs may also shed excessively due to their breed’s characteristics. There are also medical conditions—all of which are treatable—that can cause a dog to shed excessively.
3. Is there a way to stop dog shedding?
There are ways to lessen a dog’s shedding, especially during the spring and fall. However, shedding is a natural process that all dogs must go through. You can add daily or frequent brushing to your grooming routine to help lessen the amount of hair shed throughout the month. Shedding tools can be used during the spring and fall to lessen the number of coats that double-coated dogs “blown” twice a year.