For dog owners, shedding is a just another fact of life. If you’re about to pull out your own hair from trying to keep up with your animal friend’s shedding, don’t worry. Read on to find out what causes dog shedding and what you can do to keep it under control.
Your Dog’s Coat: The Basics
Did you know that a dog’s coat is usually made up of three different kinds of hair? Each one of these has a very specific purpose.
1. Undercoat: This type of hair is typically found on dog breeds that are bred to survive in cold areas. The undercoat is a layer of soft, thick hair that keeps them warm during the colder seasons.
2. Guard Hair: Also called the outer coat, this type of hair is usually longer and stiffer than the undercoat. It protects the dog’s skin and undercoat from abrasions and moisture.
3. Whiskers: These are the stiff, wire-like hairs on your dog’s face. They pick up sensory information, such as vibrations in the air, that help dogs find their way around.
Why Do Dogs Shed?
Each hair follicle has a particular growth cycle: the anagen phase, when it’s actively growing; the catagen phase, when it stops growing; and the telegen phase, when it falls out and makes room for new hair growth. The speed of hair growth depends on a number of factors, including your dog’s age and breed, general health, and the environment they live in.
What Can Cause Excessive Shedding?
1. Seasons: Surprise: your dog’s fur responds to daylight! Dogs generally shed their coats in preparation for warm seasons and grow a thicker coat to keep warm during the cold seasons.
2. Stress: Excessive shedding could also be a sign that your dog is under a lot of unnecessary stress. Watch out for some common symptoms, such as aggressive or destructive behavior, lethargy, and constant avoidance.
3. Hormones: If your dog has been recently spayed or neutered, the change in their hormone levels might cause them to shed more fur for a few months. Don’t fret, though, as most dogs will stop shedding after they’ve adjusted to their new hormone levels.
Tips for Controlling Dog Shedding
1. Brush your dog’s fur every day. This will help get rid of most dead guard hairs as well as distribute natural oils through your dog’s fur, keeping it soft and healthy. Don’t use any old brush around the house, as you’ll get better results using a proper pet brush. If you have a pet that can’t keep still for more than a few seconds, you might want to buy a sturdy dog collar to properly train them to stay put.
2. Bathe your dog every few weeks. Washing your dog’s fur removes dead hairs and keeps your pet looking fresh and clean. A good rule of thumb is to give your dog a much-needed shower every one to three months. Too many baths may make the shedding worse! Don’t use human shampoo to bathe them, either, as the difference in pH levels could dry out your canine friend’s skin. Look for a nice moisturizing pet shampoo that can help condition their fur.
3. Feed your dog a healthy diet. Don’t give them cheap dog food, which usually contains fillers that they find hard to digest. Food that has a balanced amount of essential fatty acids and digestible protein result in stronger hair follicles, more elastic skin, and a healthier coat overall. Give them enough clean drinking water, too, as dehydration can cause healthy hair to be shed prematurely.
With this information in mind, you’re now better prepared to take care of your pet’s shedding woes. Remember: a well-groomed dog is a healthy dog, and a healthy dog means less rogue hair around the house! It may take some discipline and patience, but it’s all worth it to keep your canine buddy happy and comfortable.