All dogs will shed hair from time to time, requiring them to be regularly groomed by their owner in order to maintain their coat. This can be due to the natural replacement of hair from week to week or it can be due to the animal shedding a winter coat as warmer weather starts to appear. However, from time to time the animal can fall victim to health problems that will cause it to lose hair at a vastly accelerated rate. This can result in the dog’s living environment (and the owner’s home) getting filled with hair and starting to become unsanitary. In addition, the dog itself will be negatively affected, as they will no longer have their coat to help regulate their body temperature and protect their skin. It is possible, however, to take a preemptive approach to prevent excessive molting by identifying the main causes and stopping them from occurring in the first place.
Causes And Prevention Of Molting
Infection – Tiny organisms such as bacteria and fungus can at times make their home within a dog’s body. These infections are usually brought to heel fairly quickly by the immune system, but sometimes they can be too powerful to stop and will begin to wreak havoc on localized parts of the body. Skin infections are especially common, as it is the part of the animal’s anatomy that is most often damaged by small injuries, giving the pathogens a chance to enter. As the skin on a certain part of the dog becomes more and more damaged the hair will begin to fall out, indicating that it could soon start to become necrotic.
In order to avoid such an eventuality, dog owners can do several things to remove contaminants from their pet. The main way is to make sure that the dog is provided with a decent standard of hygiene, with their coat being properly maintained by grooming, dietary supplements and with regular baths. It can also help to make sure that the animal’s paws are well looked after, as these are often the primary areas affected by small wounds and subsequently, infections. This is especially true in urban areas, where hazards such as broken glass and metal fragments abound and materials such as concrete and asphalt are abundant, which can also abrade the dog’s paw pads over time. This concept of hygiene also extends to the dog’s living area, with their bedding requiring frequent washing to stop the retention of dirt.
Parasites – Direct trauma to the skin can cause the hair follicles to become so damaged that they can no longer retain the hairs themselves. While mild dermatitis can sometimes cause the dog to scratch so much that this happens, the primary reason is the appearance of parasites such as lice or mites on the dog. These tiny creatures will crawl across the skin causing itching that will cause the dog to scratch itself incessantly. Additionally, the parasites will bite through the skin in order to feed on the dog’s blood supply. This will result in hair loss and the development of mange, which can be extremely unpleasant for both the animal and its owners.
Parasites can be prevented from taking up residence on a dog’s skin by following a few simple steps. The primary thing to do is to make sure the dog is kept well-groomed, with its coat kept short and tidy when appropriate, giving the fleas and mites less chance of being picked up and making possible symptoms easier to spot. Next, dog owners can equip their pet with what is known as a ‘flea collar’, which gives off chemicals that many parasites will find pungent and off-putting, repelling them from the animal. Additionally, by making sure that the dog is kept well away from animals that are already infested and their bedding, a person can stop their pet from being avoidably exposed to the pests.
Stress – It is not unusual for humans to start to shed hair if they are placed under a great amount of stress for prolonged periods of time. The same is true of dogs, who will usually lose hair from localized patches of their body (as opposed to a general thinning of the hair across the whole coat). The reasons for this are mostly hormonal changes within the body, but can also be because of things such as the dog starting to excessively groom or even bite itself due to the energy built up by feelings of anxiety. Needless to say, stress can also have other negative effects on the animal, including provoking depression, causing the dog to lose energy and even causing digestive problems.
In order to stop a dog from becoming stressed, owners need to take several things into account. The first is the dog’s need for regular exercise and play, which can help bleed off excess energy that can otherwise cause them to become destructive and misbehave. Additionally, play and regular interaction with other members of the household can help to meet the animal’s need for socialization and inclusion. The second thing that needs to be taken into account is the possibility of external factors causing stress in the dog, such as aggressive animals or dietary problems. By taking simple steps to rectify these concerns (such as by improving the dog’s quality of food or by altering their usual walking routes to avoid conflict with other animals), owners can lower their dog’s stress levels considerably. On a long-term basis, making sure a dog is kept stress-free will not just improve their life in terms of stopping molting, but will also help them avoid an array of other health concerns.
Endocrine Disorders – As mentioned above, hormones can play a large role in hair loss, meaning that direct damage to or disruption of the endocrine system (which is responsible for regulating a large amount of bodily processes) can cause rapid molting. One of the main causes of rapid changes in a dog’s hormones can be various types of cancers. While these will often affect certain glands individually, some tumors can spread through the body rapidly and grow throughout a large part of the endocrine system. Other causes can be environmental, with the dog encountering a dietary deficiency or coming under large amounts of stress.
To prevent endocrine problems, an owner will have to take some well-considered actions. The first of these is to make sure that the dog is getting the proper amount of nourishment from their diet in order to support their lifestyle. The nutritional requirements for this can vary from dog to dog but in general, protein-rich meals with healthy levels of fats are preferred so as to keep the animal’s body working properly. Cancers can be especially hard to predict and many are impossible to stop from developing, though some vets offer genetic screening tests that can gauge an animal’s likelihood of developing a congenital instance of the disease. With regular examinations by the vet, a tumor can be caught in its early stages and so be prevented from doing much damage. It is also important to note that some dogs may have such a high risk of developing cancer that the vet may recommend sterilizing them, so as to prevent them from passing the condition on.
Effects Of Prevention
All pet owners have a responsibility to provide the best possible standard of care for their animal and while many people may view this as seeking out the most qualified vet possible to deal with any problems that may arise, it can also be done by making a few easy changes in the pet’s life. While the solutions discussed in this article can be of great help when trying to stop the occurrence of molting, they will also have compounding benefits in other areas. Firstly, the root cause of many health problems is a poor diet and correcting this with a view to preventing molting can also mean that illnesses such as depression, lethargy and malnutrition are warded off. Also, regular exercise will greatly improve the mood of any animal and regular check-ups from a vet can keep them healthy year-round.
Molting can be an especially annoying condition to deal with, both for the dog and its owners. Large amounts of shed hair can accumulate in a home, attracting parasites and helping dirt accumulate and the dog itself can become vulnerable to other damage to its skin. Thus, it usually receives a fairly quick response from people once it occurs. But by taking a holistic approach to tackling the issue before it has a chance to happen, dog owners can make great improvements to both their own and their dog’s lifestyle.