Why Do Dogs Shed?
A question I am asked quite a lot is : why does my dog shed and how can I stop it? Some breeds do shed all the time and daily hair loss is considered normal. However, if you have noticed a change in the amount of shedding and a difference in your dog’s skin, that’s another story.
How much hair a dog sheds is breed-specific for the most part and determined by genetics. Dogs grow two types of hair: the first type called primary or “guard” hair – the outer hairs, which tend to be long, straight and firm. These hairs are lubricated by oil from the sebaceous glands in the dog’s skin, which helps waterproof the outer coat.
The second type of hair – called secondary or “undercoat” hair is short, dense and downy to insulate the dog from heat and cold.
The ratio of primary hair to secondary hair will influence the appearance of shedding. Hounds, for example, tend to have a higher ratio of primary hairs, because they don’t need as much insulation as other breeds. Since primary hairs are usually straight and tend not to stick together, they’re more noticeable when they fall off the dog. Downy secondary hairs tend to accumulate in the coat because of their texture. This dead undercoat must be brushed out.
All dogs shed, even though many people say that their breed of dogs doesn’t shed, so don’t believe them. Each hair (both primary and secondary) has a lifespan of approximately eight months. The process of each hair dying and being replaced is continual. Factors that influence the rate of shedding include hormones, diet, allergies, hours of daylight and temperature. Less daylight and colder temperatures will trigger a change in coat. Dogs tend to shed more in the Spring.
So what is abnormal shedding? If you notice excessive scratching; dry, flaky skin, excessively oily skin, or change in body weight or behaviour, this could indicate a health problem. Your Veterinarian can make that determination.
If your dog gets a clean bill of health and his shedding is considered normal, you may improve his coat by supplementing his diet with two essential fatty acids: omega 3 and omega 6. These polyunsaturated fats are available from plants, grains and cold water fish.
Daily brushing can help control the shedding. By “control” I mean collecting the shed hair in a brush, instead of on your pant legs and furniture. Using the correct tools when brushing can also help. A rubber curry pad (similar to those used on horses) might work more effectively on your dog than a standard dog brush. Your also try an undercoat rake for a dog with a longer coat.
Below is an example of a wonderful brush/comb that works wonderful on short or long coat dogs. It is called the Furminator and their is no name brands as well. You can get them in most pet shops or on line.