Does your dog run about the house only to leave behind mountains of hair? All dogs shed at one time or another; even hairless breeds lose their fine hairs. Shedding is a natural process in which dead or damaged fur falls out so new hair growth can begin. While cleaning up after a heavy shedder can be pretty frustrating, you can’t completely prevent your dog from shedding. With that said, there are a few things to understand about the shedding process that could help you minimize and manage the mess. Here are a few reasons your dog may be shedding so much.
Why is My Dog Shedding So Much?
It’s possible you’re the owner of a born shedder. Yep, genetics may be to blame. Several breeds are known to be heavy shedders, regardless of the season. Here are the top offenders:
- American Eskimo
- Appenzeller sennenhund
- Bernese mountain dog
- Canaan dog
- Caucasian shepherd dog
- Czechoslovakian Vlcak
- German shepherd
- German shorthair pointer
- Labrador retriever
- Miniature American shepherd
- Peruvian Inca orchid
- Welsh corgi (Cardigan and Pembroke)
If you think your pet’s hair loss is excessive and he isn’t one of the heavy shedding breeds, note seasonal changes in your dog’s shedding. This can help you determine what is average for your pet. Once you have an idea of what’s average, anything outside that norm would warrant a look at health.
On the other hand, if you’ve recently noticed your pet is losing a greater amount of hair and he’s showing other signs of illness like itching, irritated or infected skin, foul odor, or changes in behavior, it’s time to rule out an underlying health problem as the cause for your pet’s shedding. Hair loss in dogs is associated with a host of medical issues, including allergies, immune disease, poor nutrition, infections, and cancer, that will require a visit to the vet. They will most likely order several tests, including bloodwork, to help determine the root cause for your dog’s hair loss.
Why is My Dog Shedding More Than Usual?
Bald spots in dogs can result from age-related issues and hormonal changes. Some common problems include:
- Cushing’s disease, or hyperadrenocorticism, is caused by the overproduction of the hormone cortisol. This condition is most common in dogs six years or older. Other Cushing’s disease symptoms to watch for include an increase in eating, drinking, urinating, and panting. Your veterinarian may prescribe medications or recommend surgery to help address the disease.
- Pressure sores or bedsores are localized injuries to bony points like the dog’s elbows and hips that regularly come into contact with hard surfaces. The continued pressure and friction can cause calluses, loss of hair, and skin ulcers. Hair loss due to pressure sores is often seen in older dogs, particularly large or heavy breeds.
- Hypothyroidism is a disease caused when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroxine, a hormone that controls metabolism. Hair loss from hypothyroidism can occur in any breed; however, it’s commonly found in boxers, dachshunds, Doberman pinschers, golden retrievers, and Irish setters. Occurrence is also found in medium to large dogs aged 4-10 years.
Why is My Dog Shedding After a Bath?
Maybe you’ve noticed your pet sheds after a bath. Sudsing up helps loosen dead or loose hairs, which could explain why your dog leaves behind a tub full of hair. While this may not be the best place to lose a ton of hair, you can use bathtime to your advantage as all the hair is in one place versus over your entire house. Be sure to clean out any hair before it goes down with the bathwater, or your could be adding clogged drains to your home maintenance list.
Why is My Dog Shedding So Much in the Summer?
Dogs that seasonally shed have two different coats, one for summer and one for winter. As the seasons change from the shorter, frigid days of winter to the longer, warmer days of summer, your dog has no need for his thick cold-weather coat. In its place will come new growth, a lighter summer coat. This seasonal process, which starts during the spring and fall months, ensures your dog’s fur is healthy and protects him year-round.
Why is My Dog Shedding So Much in the Winter?
Your dog requires a different coat for winter. As the days begin to shorten and get chillier, your dog will shed his summertime coat for one that is heavy enough to protect him from the winter elements. During seasonal shedding, you may observe thin patches or an uneven coat. This is a natural process called “blowing the coat” and is nothing to fret over.
How to Prevent My Dog From Shedding So Much?
While you can’t fight Mother Nature and stop your dog’s shedding for good, you can take some steps to reduce the pileup around the house.
- Groom your dog regularly. Brushing your dog routinely distributes the skin’s natural oils and removes dead or loose hairs.
- Select the appropriate brush for your pet coat. For long-haired dogs, go with a shedding rake or comb, as they can help you get down through the fur closer to the skin. For short-haired dogs, opt for a stiff bristle brush or a self-cleaning slicker brush.
- Bathing can help remove any loose or dead hairs. However, don’t over bathe your pet because it could result in a dry, brittle coat, and in turn, increase hair loss.
If your dog is healthy and continues to shed, you can always buy lint rollers in bulk and use fabric covers to protect your furniture and make clean up easier.