You’ve just cleaned your floors, they look shiny, new and you could eat your dinner off them, but what happens? Your dog comes along and sheds their coat all over your clean floor! Dogs shed their coats all year round, ensuring you’re endlessly sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping your floors. While German Shepherds, Huskies, and Retrievers are famous for being particularly bad, even supposedly shed-resistant dogs like Poodles are still guilty of shedding from time to time. It may seem like a mild condition, but shedding can be a sign of a serious, underlying problem, so understanding how to diagnose, treat and prevent abnormal shedding is important information.
Spotting signs of shedding is relatively straightforward. Can you see an increase in the amount of hair on your floors and in the dog’s bed? Can you see patches where your dog is missing hair? These and unusually thin hair are signs your dog is shedding.
A number of things cause your dog to shed their coat and one of those is seasonal shedding. It usually starts happening in the spring, but it also often happens in the fall. It is particularly common in cold climate dogs like Huskies and Akitas. Shedding will usually be even and affect hair across the entire body.
Shedding can never be completely prevented, as it a natural biological process in dogs. But fear not, there is hope yet for your clothes and furniture, as simple changes to your dog’s diet could help prevent excessive shedding. A poor-quality diet will often result in shedding, so focusing on a meat-rich diet, with fresh fruit and vegetables may help not only promote overall health, but improve the strength and resistance of your dog’s coat. A diet rich in vitamins and nutrients gives your dog’s hair follicles the sustenance needed to grow strong and resilient.
This is an effective solution, but only to a limited extent and only for as long as you keep up the dietary changes. Once you go back to poor-quality dog food, their coat will quickly deteriorate and when you look down, you will see a forest floor again.
Hormones may play a part
Shedding is the loss of your dog’s undercoat and consistent loss of fur. That undercoat could be shedding because of a thyroid hormonal imbalance, causing skin to become inflamed and hair to become brittle, which could start as dandruff, but can quickly progress to excessive shedding.
Fortunately, all is not lost. You can decrease your dog’s shedding by supplementing their diet with olive or flaxseed oil. These oils are incredibly rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are fantastic for soothing and nourishing inflamed skin. The oils can improve the strength and texture of your dog’s hair, helping them to retain it, maybe even all year round! While not 100% effective, this could be effective to a limited extent in the short term, but once you stop giving them those oils, their hair may end up all over your furniture.
It may seem unrelated, but ensuring your dog has enough clean, fresh water could also help prevent shedding. When the skin is dehydrated, the skin crusts and hair falls out. So make sure your dog’s water bowl is topped up and encourage them to drink regularly.
Allergies can cause shedding
One prolific cause of shedding in dogs is allergies. Your dog could be allergic to anything from household cleaning products to their shampoo or pest bites. There is also a good chance the shedding could be as a result of an allergy to food. It could be as innocent as adding the odd raw egg to their diet, or it could be one specific ingredient in their kibble.
The good thing about allergies is that you can take actionable steps to prevent them from affecting your dog. To rule out any food allergies you need to isolate the culprit. Consult your vet about a food elimination trial. This involves slowly removing each ingredient you suspect, giving enough time to see if it makes any difference to your dog's coat. If you can successfully identify the food culprit, then you can ensure your dog avoids it, making it an extremely effective, long-term solution.
Ensuring your dog has a well-rounded diet will help tackle the negative effects of a food allergy. Remove any starchy foods like rice and pasta. This will ensure your dog only consumes food with the vitamins and nutrients they need to maintain strength and consistency in their coat. However, this will be somewhat effective only while you keep up the dietary change.
Other causes of excessive shedding
Yes, dogs can shed all year long. Some more so than others, and in copious amounts. But excessive shedding is not always a normal process. If you think your furry companion is shedding more than they usually do, or if you are seeing bald patches in their coat, you may want to consult the vet to rule out other reasons for the hair loss.
Contributing factors to an abundance of fur over the house may be:
- Infection caused by bacteria or fungus
- Illnesses like Cushing's Disease
- Parasites like mites or mange
- Contact with a skin irritant
Preventing shedding in your dog brings with it only a host of benefits. The first and most obvious benefit is that you won’t have to constantly sweep, hoover, and clean every surface they touch. Preventing your pooch from excessively shedding on every item of furniture will also limit the smell they leave around the house.
While it will mainly save you time and effort, learning the cause of the hair loss may also save your dog considerable discomfort if they are suffering with an allergic reaction to something that is causing excessive shedding. In addition, it will keep your dog looking youthful and healthier for longer.
Shedding, to some extent, is normal and happens to most dogs all year round, but particularly in spring and fall. Some breeds, such as Huskies and Retrievers, are more prone to shedding than others. While shedding is normal, hormonal imbalances, some illnesses, parasites, and allergies can cause excessive shedding.
Thankfully, by making simple changes to their diet you can help prevent excess shedding. Ensuring they have a balanced diet of raw, lean meats, fresh fruit and vegetables, and no starchy foods can help. So can supplementing your dog’s diet with the omega-3 goodness of oils. Plus, seeing to it your dog drinks enough water will help prevent dehydration-related shedding. Regular check-ups with the veterinarian are also an important part of ensuring that your dog maintains a full and healthy coat.