What Is Shedding?
Dogs naturally lose old or damaged hair by shedding. Although shedding is a normal process for dogs, the amount and frequency of hair that is shed often depends upon their health and breed type. It can also depend on the season—many dogs develop thick coats in the winter that are then shed in the spring. Dogs who are always kept indoors, however, are prone to smaller fluctuations in coat thickness and tend to shed fairly evenly all year.
How Can I Minimize My Dog’s Shedding?
While you cannot stop a healthy dog from normal shedding, you can reduce the amount of hair in your home by brushing your dog regularly. Your veterinarian or groomer should be able to recommend a specific type of brush or comb that will work best for your dog’s hair type.
What Would Make a Dog Shed Excessively?
What seems like excessive shedding can be normal for some dogs, but it can also be the result of stress, poor nutrition or a medical problem. Your veterinarian can best determine if your dog’s hair loss is part of the normal shedding process or is a symptom of an underlying disorder. Excessive shedding can sometimes be prevented through proper nutrition. Quality pet-food manufacturers work hard to include the right amount of nutrients so that supplements are not needed, but dogs with allergies and/or sensitivities still might need to experiment with different brands and formulations to discover which food works best for them. We recommend that you consult your veterinarian for advice on what foods will best suit your dog.
Excessive hair loss or bald patches may be due to one of the following:
- Parasites (fleas, lice or mites)
- Fungal or bacterial infections
- Inhalant or food-related allergies
- Kidney, liver, thyroid or adrenal disease (including Cushing’s)
- Pregnancy or lactation
- Certain medications
- Self-induced trauma due to licking
- Immune disease
- Contact with irritating or caustic substances
When Is it Time to See the Vet?
If you notice any of the following conditions, or if your dog’s initial skin problem persists for more than a week, consult with your veterinarian for treatment.
- Skin irritation, including redness, bumps, rashes or scabs
- Open sores of any kind
- Bald spots or thinning of coat
- Dull, dry hair that pulls out easily
- Constant foot licking or face rubbing