Whether it's soft and fluffy or long and curly, your dog's coat is one of its most endearing features. However, sharing your home with a furry friend comes at a cost; constant dog fur on your bed, sofa, and other soft furnishings. You probably know that shedding is normal for dogs, yet you may still wonder, "why is my dog shedding so much?" Read on to learn how much your dog should shed and what you can do to reduce the amount of fur in your home, besides vacuuming every day!
Why Do Dogs Shed?
Shedding is a natural and essential process for dogs that helps them keep their hair and skin healthy. Molting allows canines to get rid of old, dry, and damaged hair, making room for new, soft, and healthy fur to grow. Some dogs shed more than others, depending on their breed and coat type. What's more, canines can either be seasonal shedders or all-year-round shedders. Typically, single coat breeds, like the Maltese, French Bulldog, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, will shed a consistent rate throughout the year, which may not be that noticeable. On the other hand, double-coat breeds like the Alaskan Malamute, Rottweiler, and German Shepherd go through stages of excess shedding twice yearly. Many of these seasonal shedders will then shed minimally during the rest of the year. Yet, some breeds like Golden Retrievers continue to shed moderately all year round.
When Do Dogs Shed The Most?
If your canine sheds seasonally, you'll notice excess molting in the shoulder seasons (spring and fall). Seasonal shedding dogs grow thick coats to stay warm in the winter, then lose their undercoats in the spring to avoid overheating. Then, in early fall, they lose their old hairs in preparation for growing their winter coat. Both shedding seasons will typically last two to four weeks. During these times, you might notice that you collect a handful of dog fur every time you pat your four-legged friend. If your dog has a double coat and this happens during the spring or fall, it's likely not a cause for concern.
How to Minimize Dog Shedding
While dog shedding is normal, there are things you can do to keep it under control:
1. Brush their coat
The quickest, cheapest, and easiest way to minimize the amount of dog fur on your sofa and bed is to brush your dog regularly. Brushing your pup will initially release the loose, dead hair (so be sure to do it outside), but they will likely shed less afterward. But don't just use any standard hairbrush; there are several types of dog grooming brushes available.
- Bristle brushes are a universal style brush as they are suitable for all coat types. For dogs with long hair, look for one with long bristles, or choose a stiffer one for short-haired dogs.
- Wire-pin brushes are excellent for dogs with a woolly or curly coat.
- Slicker brushes have fine wire bristles that detangle and remove matted fur.
- Rubber combs work well for short-haired dogs, and the rubber texture acts as a gentle massager.
How often you'll need to brush your furry friend will depend on their coat and breed. For example, long-haired breeds may require daily brushing, whereas brushing a short-haired canine once a week will be sufficient.
2. Bathe your dog
Bathing your dog is another way to remove excess and dead hair and has the added benefits of cleaning their skin and hair and making them smell good. Always use a shampoo specially formulated for canines. Some dog shampoos claim to be de-shedding as they have ingredients like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that reduce excess shedding and improve skin health. Combining bathing and brushing is one of the best ways to keep molting under control and is a real treat for your pup. Wait for their coat to dry after bathing, and then give them a full brush or comb. Their fur will be soft and silky, and they'll be able to nap on the sofa without leaving a pile of fluff.
3. Ensure your dog has a healthy diet and hydration
A high-quality, nutritious diet will nourish and strengthen your dog's hair follicles, preventing the likelihood of excess hair fall. Thus, you should ensure they eat complete and balanced dog food or consider buying one with a healthy skin and hair formula. Dehydration can dry out your dog's skin and cause itching and flaking, resulting in excessive shedding. Therefore, ensure your pup always has a bowl of fresh water. In addition to food and water, giving your dog an Omega 3 supplement can boost their skin and hair health.
4. Use a de-shedding tool
Various dog de-shedding tools are now on the market, specially designed to remove dead hair and reduce hair fall. They are more effective than brushes as they have stainless steel tines instead of bristles, which pull up and extract hair from your dog's undercoat. So, if you find that brushing your pup is not enough, consider trying one of these specialized tools.
5. Choose a breed that sheds less
Not all breeds shed a lot, so if having a house full of dog hair is something you'd rather avoid, consider getting a low-shedding dog breed. Afghan Hounds, Poodles, Irish Water Spaniels, and Portuguese Water Dogs all have gorgeous, unique-looking coats, but they surprisingly shed very little. They typically lose just a couple of hairs at a time rather than tufts. Of course, if you want to eliminate all shedding, opt for a hairless dog breed like the American Hairless Terrier or Chinese Crested dog.
When to Worry About Excessive SheddingWhile dogs that shed a lot are not a cause for concern in most cases, there are exceptions. Excessive shedding in dogs can relate to a health or well-being disturbance. If you notice any of the following symptoms, you should book an appointment with your vet ASAP:
- Bald spots
- Skin redness and inflammation
- Changes in hair texture, such as brittle fur
- Excessive licking or chewing
- Excessive itching or scratching
Common Causes of Unnatural Shedding Include:
1. Poor nutrition
If your dog is losing more hair than usual and it's not shedding season, they may lack essential vitamins or minerals. Unfortunately, some low-cost dog foods do not offer complete and balanced nutrition. Over time, this can result in poor skin and coat health.Shop LuckyTail Skin & Coat Chews
Suppose your pup has recently experienced a significant change, such as a house move or new addition to the family. In that case, you might notice that they start shedding more than usual. Stress can trigger increased hair loss, so if you think this could be the cause, focus on creating a stress-free environment and consistent routine to help them settle.
3. Skin infections, allergies, and parasites
If you notice your dog molting a lot in certain areas only, this is a sign that something is wrong. When dogs shed naturally, they lose hair in equal amounts all over their bodies. When dogs lose hair in patches, it is most likely because they are experiencing a skin problem. Bacterial or fungal infections such as ringworm or a parasite infestation like tick or fleas can be very uncomfortable for your pup and make them scratch excessively. Similarly, if your dog suffers an allergic reaction, their inflamed skin will cause them to scratch, resulting in bald patches.
4. Hormonal issues
Lastly, an excess amount of shedding that is not seasonal can be due to hormonal imbalances, such as the thyroid. This type of imbalance can cause inflamed skin and brittle hair, increasing the amount of hair fall.