Pet Health, Interesting Facts, and
Shedding Causes and Cures
More Dog-Related Articles
Shedding is often misunderstood. Or owners have a
misconception about what is normal and what is excessive shedding.
What is normal?
Seasonal shedding is perfectly normal in most breeds, and it should not be
discouraged even if you could.
Most dogs have a "double coat" - that is, they have long
"guard hairs" that you see, and a layer of thick, downy fuzz next
to their skin under the guard hairs called "undercoat". The
undercoat is used for insulation and grows deep and dense in the Winter only
to be shed out and discarded in Spring and Summer.
Male dogs usually only shed profusely during the Spring and Summer molt.
However, females often shed at the time of their estrus or heat cycle as
well, and they rarely obtain as magnificent a coat as males.
The main exceptions to the double coat are poodles and bichon frises,
which never develop the undercoat and, thus, are known as
Puppies of nearly every breed shed their puppy coat before growing their
adult double coat. This can be a very trying time with tangles and mats as
the fuzzy puppy stuff falls out and gets tangled in the adult guard hairs
growing in. Expect this and keep brushing! It usually happens between 6
months and 12 months depending on the breed.
If you would like to lessen the impact of seasonal shedding, the best
course of action is to either clip the hair very short at the beginning of
Spring with Professional Clippers or to brush the undercoat out. An undercoat
rake is just what the doctor ordered for that task.
You should start at the fist signs of shedding and repeat the procedure
throughout the summer if you notice more hair. It's a BIG job and takes elbow
grease, but both you and the dog will appreciate it.
What is not "normal?
There are two or three factors that can exacerbate shedding.
- To minimize unhealthy
shedding, the skin needs to be kept supple and moist so that it can hold
the guard hair shafts tightly in the pores. That means that the dog
must be getting enough fatty acids in his diet so that the skin
retains oil and he must NOT get the oil stripped from his skin or
hair by harsh, detergent washing products.
- Hair that is dry and
brittle breaks easily. What you might mistake for shedding could be
broken, damaged hair that should have been moist and flexible.
- To insure the least amount
of shedding, feed a high quality diet and supplement with additional
anti-oxidants vitamin such as A and E as well as Linoleic Acid and
Omega3 and Omega 6 Fish oils. See skin and coat supplements. See
"skin treatments" in our index for food supplements that will
help control shedding.
- Brushing does more than
just eliminate tangles. You need to brush the coat frequently to bring
the oils produced at the skin down each shaft of hair to coat the hair
shaft with protective lipids.
- Be sure that you are
using a veterinary quality NON-detergent shampoo! See Choosing High Quality Shampoo
Under no circumstances should information presented here be construed
as veterinary in nature. Always consult your veterinarian if problems