Shedding

April 12, 2012

Why do dogs shed?

Are you bothered by dog hair that clings to your dress, decorate your furniture and at times would float in your coffee? This dog shedding problem may prod you to get a dog that does not shed. Be skeptical if someone tells you that this breed does not shed. There is no such thing as a dog that does not shed unless the dog is completely hairless.

All dogs shed because it is a natural process of releasing dead hair from the dog’s skin so that it can be replaced by new growth. Some dogs shed all year round; some would shed at a much slower rate. Other dogs shed seasonally. In the spring, a dog would shed to replace the dense hair with a lighter coat that is more suitable for a warmer climate. This lighter coat will again be shed in the fall; new thicker coat will be grown in preparation for the colder winter months. However, this natural shedding process is influenced by the fact that dogs that are raised as companions are kept mostly indoors. Because of the controlled temperature inside the house the dog’s body can not effectively register the change of season thus the dog would shed all year round.

Dog Shedding Facts

As mentioned all dogs shed. Naturally the hairless ones like the American Hairless Terrier, the Peruvian Inca Orchid and the Hairless Khala will not be expected to shed. Some dogs though would seem not to shed at all. An example of this is the Poodle, whose dead hair remains in the coat, gets tangled with other hairs and forms into mats. Other low shedding dogs are Maltese, Coton de Tulear and Shih Tzu. Because of the slower rate of shedding, hair of these dogs would need to be clipped and regularly groomed otherwise dead hair would form into mats.

Dogs with dense thick double coats are known to shed heavily. Dalmatians and German Shepherds shed continuously. This means that you need to use the vacuum everyday. Other dogs are seasonal heavy shedders. Great Pyrenees, Keeshond, Newfoundland and Samoyed are a few examples of dog breed that shed heavily during spring and fall. Owners of the Belgian Malenois and the Curly Coated Retrievers will be burdened by the dog’s heavy shedding only once a year.

Signs, causes and treatment for abnormal shedding

Dog shedding is a fact of life. Normal shedding can not be prevented. However there are cases and instances where the shedding can be abnormally excessive. A dog’s excessive shedding can be due to poor nutrition. In this case, the coat is lackluster and dry thus causing extreme itchiness. If you are giving your dog proper diet abnormal shedding can stem from other factors like skin infections and parasite infestations. Cancer, ringworm, allergies, flea infestation and skin infection would cause itching. The dog would incessantly scratch and bite the infected area to soothe the itchiness. This will result in bald spots. These bald spots can also be due to mange. These are mites that feed on the dogs flesh causing itchiness. Bathing too frequently and using human shampoo on the dog can dry out the skin and cause abnormal shedding.

This abnormal shedding would definitely need a vet’s attention. The vet may prescribe a flea and tick shampoo as well as food supplements. These products contain herbs, vitamins, antioxidants that are formulated to promote beautiful and healthy skin. You might want to feed your dog foods that are rich in omega 3 as this too will result to healthy skin.

How to deal with shedding

Shedding is almost always a dilemma for pet owners especially if the pet lives inside the house. Vacuuming dog shedding is a necessary task that must be done daily, 3 or 4 times if the dog is a heavy shedder. Dog shedding can not be prevented but it can be controlled. Grooming is the magic word that will put an end to this concern. Brushing the dog regularly, more often during the shedding season would accelerate the shedding process. Dead hair will fall off anyway so it would be better to brush and throw it rather than allowing the hair to fall on the carpet, on the furniture and all over the house. Dogs shed their winter coat for about a month, some would take longer. If shedding is not dealt with you have to be prepared to live in a house heavily “decorated” with dog shedding. Brushing the hair regularly will also keep the coat healthy and shiny. As mentioned dry skin and dull looking hair is one of the causes of excessive shedding.

Some pet owners states that dead hair can be effectively removed by vacuuming. Others use different kinds of grooming tools. The choice of grooming tools will depend on the type of the dog’s coat. The thick teeth of the undercoat rake makes removing dead hair of double coated dogs easy. Invest in a fine toothed flea comb if your dog is infested with fleas. The shedding comb works two ways: the short teeth remove the loose hair pulled by the long teeth from the undercoat. The fine wire bristles of the slicker brush easily remove mats and tangles. The dematting rake is used to cut through the thick undercoat to unsnarl mats. These grooming tools if used properly and regularly will not only keep the dog shedding from falling on the floor on the furniture and all over the house. These tools will also make the coat healthy and superbly looking.

It would be much better if the dog is introduced to these grooming tools while still a puppy as this will make grooming sessions easier for the owner and pleasurable for the pet. Some dogs however, would not take to these brushes. If this is the case you can use the sticky rolls used to remove loose hair from their clothes.

Another option to reduce shedding is through coat reduction. This de-shedding treatment makes use of a handheld tool called Furminator. To do a coat reduction trim the tool is lightly raked through the double coat of the dog.

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