Taking care of dogs involves plenty of responsibilities in which every pet owner should be aware of. Apart from providing nutritious and high quality food, clean water and a good place to stay, dogs also need to be given proper grooming, most especially to dog breeds that have thick, long hair or fur.
Dog shedding is quite common in dogs, which has become a source of frustration for most dog owners as it may get a little messy around the house. You may notice some dog hair strands on the floor or on fabrics of the living room sofa. This can actually trigger an allergic reaction in some sensitive individuals. While certain dog breeds shed little, other breeds shed too much.
Why do dogs shed hair?
Shedding in dogs should not be automatically considered as a sign of a certain illness. On the contrary, it may be considered as a sign of healthy hair and skin.
Dogs shedding depends on how the hair grows. As the hair reaches a certain length, the growth stops, which cause the shedding.
The growth of hair in dogs undergoes four stages:
- Anagen (Growth)
- Catagen (Regressing)
- Telogen (Resting)
- Exogen (Shedding)
The growth rate of hair in dogs depends on the kind of breed and location. Dogs that continually shed have a shorter anagen phase.
Different dog breeds shed off their hair on a regular basis. The growth phases affect the rate of hair growth, which may be affected by age, breed, environmental factor, hormones, and the overall health condition of the dog. All these are significant in determining the length and type of texture of the hair.
For instance, poodles have long hair shafts with longer life spans and do not shed too often. However, labradors have a shorter hair shaft life span and thick undercoats, which eventually result in greater shedding.
It is also likely that during spring and fall, most dogs will shed extra hair, as a result of temperature changes. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as “blowing coat”. Dogs shed their winter undercoats to make way for the growth of a lighter coat, which protects them from the summer season. When winter comes once again, dogs shed off their lighter coat to make way for the growth of a much thicker coat.
It is highly important that you are aware of your dog’s health. Somehow, when dogs are sick, excessive shedding may occur. Hair loss or any changes in the rate of hair growth can be affected by:
- Certain medications
- Contact with irritating or caustic substances
- Endocrine diseases
- Immune disease
- Inhalant or food-related allergies
- Kidney, liver, thyroid or adrenal disease (including Cushing’s)
- Metabolic disorders
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Parasites (fleas, lice or mites)
- Pregnancy or lactation
- Self-induced trauma due to licking
- Skin problems, such as fungal or bacterial infection
If you observe an unusual shedding of your dog, contact your vet immediately.
How to Stop Shedding
Shedding due to the normal cycle of hair growth cannot be stopped. However, abnormal shedding of hair caused by certain diseases can be addressed by giving the appropriate medicine needed by your dog to regain his health.
Accordingly, once the disease has been successfully treated, the hair growth rate will normalize afterwards.
Tips on How To Take Care of Your Dog’s Hair
Dog shedding is part of the natural process of hair growth. And just like humans, dogs need proper hair care to ensure that the dog’s coat remains healthy. While it is impossible to totally stop the shedding of hair, we can do some precautionary measures to help reduce shedding.
Use proper bathing techniques
A dog owner should realize that dogs need their master’s full commitment in taking care of them. This includes having to give frequent baths to ensure that they are clean and healthy.
Here’s a warning, though: Don’t bathe your dog too often, because this may strip off the natural oils found in his skin, which may take away the luster of the coat. This can cause skin irritations that can cause dryness of the skin, thereby making your dog uncomfortable. Too much scratching may result to scrapes on the skin, which when left untreated may lead to wound infection.
Use dog-friendly bathing products
Always check the label of each product that you use on your dog. There is a wide range of dog shampoo products to choose from, which may differ for each type of dog breed.
Always remember that products designed for humans should not be used on dogs. Hair products that we use may contain harsh chemicals, which may irritate your dog’s skin and lead to a higher risk of hair shedding.
Make it a habit to groom your dog daily
Brush your dog’s hair to help distribute the natural oils on the skin. This stimulates the skin and hair follicles to increase secretion of natural oils, which makes the coat shiny. Brushing also prevents matting, which reduces shedding by removing loose hair.
Give dogs the right food
Just like humans, the quality of food that we eat affects our overall health. This is why it’s appropriate to feed your dogs the right kind of food that they need, instead of merely sharing with them our leftovers.
Most often, children would slip under the table a few chunks of meat or chicken bones for their dogs. While we may think that it can satisfy their nutritional needs due to the protein content of meat, think again. Remember that not all human food can be safe for your dogs.
The kind of food that you feed your dogs has a direct effect on their overall health condition, and this can also be seen in the quality of hair or coat.
Provide nutrition geared towards hair health
Omega-3 fatty acids play a significant role in keeping your dog’s coat healthy and shiny. This protects your dogs from allergies or other inflammatory skin conditions.
Deficiency in this specific nutrient may dull our dog’s hair. Seek your vet’s advice when giving supplements to your dog to ensure that they are safe.
Managing Dog Shedding At Home
When you realize that it is nearly impossible for dogs to stop shedding, you have the responsibility to clean up after your pets. The living room sofa may be the most common place where you can find a lot of dog hair.
Instead of letting it stay for too long, consider cleaning the living room sofa often by using a pet hair tape roller. For deeper cleaning, you may use a vacuum cleaner. This does not only keep your house clean, but also eliminates the possibility of endangering the health of your family.
In summary, the health of your dog’s hair will ultimately come from his overall health and well-being. If your dog is healthy, there’s a good chance that his coat will be shiny and strong as well.