- Most shedding in dogs is normal — It’s a natural bodily function for all dog breeds.
- There are several causes of abnormal shedding — These include diseases, parasites, age, and injury.
- Many cases of abnormal shedding can be prevented — Regular brushing and bathing, a balanced diet, and flea and tick prevention are important.
Despite what many people think, all dogs shed. In fact, most dog hair shedding is natural. Shedding allows dogs to regulate their temperature and get rid of old hair to make way for a new, healthy layer.
Abnormal shedding, however, can be a sign of something more serious and it’s important to know the difference. Normal shedding is a gradual process that occurs year-round or seasonally. Abnormal shedding, on the other hand, can indicate health problems related to diet, allergies, or infections.
Read on to learn what normal dog shedding is and what’s considered abnormal. Knowing the different causes will help you ensure that your furry friend stays healthy and happy for years to come.
What is a normal amount of shedding?
Because there are so many factors that determine the amount of shedding that will occur from dog to dog, there’s no “normal.”
Natural shedding occurs at a steady rate evenly over the dog’s body. It’s important to monitor your dog’s shedding patterns to ensure that their fur loss isn’t excessive or unusual for them. Too much shedding or shedding in some areas more than others could be a sign of underlying health problems.
If your efforts to control excessive shedding don’t seem to make a difference, it’s important to seek a veterinarian’s advice. There could be other factors causing your dog to lose hair.
Do all dogs shed hair?
All dogs shed, but some do more than others. The amount depends on factors like breed, age, gender, and health. Additionally, long-haired breeds, like German shepherds and golden retrievers, tend to shed more than short-haired breeds, like beagles and pugs.
You can also have dogs who have thick undercoats meant for the cold and shed heavier throughout different seasons, like Akitas or Alaskan malamutes. They usually need special grooming to help release the undercoat when they start to shed.
And while some people believe hypoallergenic dogs won’t shed at all, that’s unfortunately not true. While it’s true these breeds shed less than others, this doesn’t mean they’re zero-maintenance dogs. They still require regular grooming and bathing to keep their coats clean and their skin healthy.
When do dogs normally shed?
Some dogs shed year-round. Heavy seasonal shedding in many breeds, however, occurs in the spring and fall. Changes in the weather and day length trigger the shedding process.
What causes abnormal shedding in dogs?
Several factors can trigger abnormal hair loss in dogs. These include poor nutrition, parasites or fungi, allergies, serious illnesses, trauma to the skin, pregnancy, stress, age, and genetics — all of which will be touched upon below.
Dealing with shedding dog hair can be a challenge if a health issue is responsible. Identifying the cause of abnormal shedding is crucial to providing the proper treatment.
A healthy diet for your dog is essential for good health. Dogs that are fed a poor diet may develop dull fur or skin problems — and shed more as a result.
Parasites or fungi
Hair loss due to parasites and fungi is best handled by prevention. Use flea and tick medication, groom your dog regularly, and monitor their skin for any signs of infection. In the case of a fungal infection, you’ll often notice hair loss that’s noticeably patchy.
Dealing with dogs that shed due to allergies involves finding out what the allergen is and avoiding it, if possible. If you can’t identify the allergen, consult with a veterinarian. The vet can determine the cause and then prescribe a treatment, such as antihistamines or immunotherapy.
Serious health problems, like thyroid disease, Cushing’s disease, and cancer, can also cause excessive shedding in dogs. These will likely come with other symptoms and will need a veterinarian’s exam to determine the full cause.
Trauma to the skin
Trauma on the skin, such as scrapes caused by rough play or accidents, can lead to hair loss. Burns caused by hot surfaces or chemicals can be another cause, and these can also lead to skin infections.
Dogs scratch themselves when they feel an itch, just like we do. However, excessive scratching can cause hair loss and other abrasions. Severe cases of skin trauma need to be treated by a vet.
Pregnancy leads to major hormonal level changes in dogs which can cause hair loss. During pregnancy, estrogen levels drop while progesterone levels rise. These can cause hair follicles to enter into a resting phase.
Additionally, because the nutrients a pregnant dog consumes are spread out among her developing babies, she can sometimes experience a nutritional deficiency that leads to skin issues and, as a result, excessive shedding. It’s essential to feed your pup a high-quality diet throughout the pregnancy.
When a dog is stressed, their body releases stress hormones, which can impact the hair growth cycle. These hormones can cause the hair follicles to enter into a resting phase, leading to excessive shedding.
If you see your dog losing hair and suspect that stress is the culprit, it’s important to find the source of the anxiety to know the right course of action. This could include providing them with more mental stimulation and exercise or giving them anti-anxiety medication.
Once the stress is relieved, the hair loss should resolve.
Several diseases, including autoimmune disorders, kidney disease, and cancer, can cause hair loss.
These medical conditions can also lead to hormonal imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, and other issues that affect your dog’s hair growth cycle.
Early detection is crucial to providing timely treatment. This improves the dog’s chances of recovery and minimizes the risk of complications. Your veterinarian can perform tests, identify the disease causing the hair loss, and provide guidance — from medication to dietary changes and lifestyle modifications — on how to manage it.
As dogs age, they experience hormonal changes that can sometimes lead to excessive shedding.
Senior dogs are also more prone to skin diseases than younger ones. Their reduced activity level often results in less blood flow to their skin and hair follicles, leading to itchiness and scratching — and then to hair loss.
Dealing with shedding dogs
Shedding dogs require maintenance to keep their skin and coat happy and healthy.
- Brush them regularly — Brush your dog regularly to remove excess hair. Regular brushing also removes dirt and debris and helps prevent matting. The type of brush you use will depend on your dog’s coat type. A slicker brush works well for short-haired breeds, while a bristle brush or comb is best for long-haired breeds.
- Keep them clean — Bathe your dog regularly. Regular baths help reduce shedding by keeping your pet’s coat clean and healthy. However, too much bathing can strip the skin of natural oils and cause dryness, making the problem worse. Use a mild, dog-specific shampoo and conditioner, and rinse out all products thoroughly.
- Keep them hydrated — Dehydration can lead to dry, itchy skin, which in turn can lead to excessive shedding. Make sure your pet has access to clean, fresh water at all times, especially in hot weather or if your dog is particularly active.
- Feed them a high-quality diet — A healthy diet can help your pet shed less, avoid illness, and, ultimately, live a longer life. A high-quality food containing essential nutrients like protein, vitamins, and fatty acids supports a healthy coat and skin and can reduce shedding as a result. Consult your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your dog’s breed, age, activity level, and health needs.
- Prevent flea and tick problems — Flea and tick infestations make dogs miserable. If you notice your dog scratching themselves excessively, check them for these pesky parasites. Preventative measures, like flea and tick medications, can be administered directly on the skin or given orally.
Shedding is normal, but too much can be a sign your dog needs some extra love and care
Understanding the causes behind dog shedding helps us take care of our (sometimes too) furry friends. Shedding is a natural process, but too much may be a sign of health problems.
Be sure to provide your dog with a balanced diet, groom them regularly, and help them cope with stress. And when simple solutions to excessive shedding aren’t enough, take your canine companion to a veterinarian.
We love our pets, and we want them to live the best life possible. At betterpet, our experts are dedicated to helping you care for your pet. So don’t waste time — if your dog is shedding abnormally or more than usual, take action to solve the problem as soon as you can.
Frequently asked questions
Do all dogs shed hair?
Yes, all dogs shed hair (even those considered to be hypoallergenic). It might occur consistently throughout the year or, in some cases, much more heavily in the spring and fall.
What are some common causes of dog shedding?
All dogs shed somewhat, but the most common cause of excessive natural shedding is seasonal change. Causes of abnormal shedding, on the other hand, can include diseases, parasites, injury, stress, and even pregnancy.
How do I control the amount of hair my dog sheds?
Regular brushing and bathing help control normal shedding. To combat shedding caused by diseases or parasites, though, you may need to seek the advice of your pet’s veterinarian.