Is your dog shedding excessively? In most cases, a dog heavily sheds hair before or just after the winter season as a form of preparation for weather changes. The main reason for dog shedding is due to hormonal changes as well as the presence of sunlight. However, scientists at the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) claim that there are certain factors that encourage shedding in dogs even during winter. This includes the lack of sunlight and overexposure to artificial heating sources.
Dog shedding season
Shedding is a natural process in dogs that eliminates unwanted and dead fur. Their hair will be replaced with new fur. This can be a very frustrating phase for some owners especially if they have a long-haired pooch.
Shedding is also due to hormonal changes associated with daylight exposure. The heaviest shedding season is in spring. During this season, the winter coat sheds off to make space for the lighter summer coat to grow.
Shorter days in autumn lead to the shedding of their summer coats which is expected to be much lighter. It makes way for the full hair coat to grow. Oftentimes, it makes a dog looks like he had gained a few pounds. It might possibly be just a few pounds of extra fur. It is important to be observant, have a grooming plan in place once the temperature begins to shift.
Dog shedding process
The factors affecting the shedding process are the following
- Temperature and sunlight
Due to the consistent temperature exposure, canines spend most of the time indoors are likely to shed throughout the year as it is hard for their body to recognise seasonal changes. On the other hand, dogs with more outdoor exposure tend to shed heavily only in the spring. However, there may be changes in shedding patterns of elder canines or one with health conditions. Additionally, females tend to shed more after a heat cycle. Dog breeds considered ‘hypoallergenic’ still shed but with a much slower growth pace than the others.
The dog breeds shed the most are as follow:
- American Eskimo
- Alaskan Malamute
- Australian Shepherd
- Chow Chow
- Great Pyrenees
- Labrador Retriever
- Siberian Husky
The cycle of canine coat growth and renewal
There are two layers of a dog’s coat; the overcoat or the outer layer, and the undercoat which tends to be denser. The cycle undergoes four stages during growth and renewal.
- The Anagen phase is the active growth stage of the new hair.
- Catagen phase is when the hair stops actively growing as it reaches its optimum length.
- Telogen phase is when the hair remains dormant and fully attached to his skin.
- Exogen phase is the final stage of the natural cycle where the hair sheds from the follicle and repeatedly goes to the first part of the cycle.
How to manage dog shedding
Introducing anything new to your dog should be done in a gradual manner with positive reinforcement.
Make brushing a part of his daily routine. It helps eliminate loose or dead hair from his skin which minimises the distribution of the shredded fur around the house.
- Undercoat Rake
As brushing only reaches the surface of the hair, double-coated dog breeds require special needs during peak shedding season. The use of undercoat rake once a week helps to remove tangled hair and mats right down to his skin. Single coated breeds are still advised to visit a groomer or find a great source of dog clippers for home use.
Regular bathing of every six to ten weeks also helps remove loose hair as well as keeping dog smell in check. However, do not bathe your dog too often as their natural oil can be stripped off during the process. This leads to dry and flaky skin. Moisturising dog shampoo (with coconut oil or oatmeal) will help improve the quality of his hair and skin.
Apart from grooming, a dog with an optimum health condition contributes to a healthy-looking coat.
- Healthy diet
Choose a high-quality food brand rich in omega fatty acids and proteins to help improve a dog’s hair follicles and natural oil production. A healthy diet helps to minimise shedding and keep your furry companion healthy.
- Stress-free environment
It is important to be perceptive of your dog’s feelings. Watch out for signs of stress to address the problem.
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According to Kelly Kirk a doctor of veterinary medicine from Jacksonville, Florida, there is no magical way to prevent shedding in dogs. The good thing is that it can be managed in certain ways. Remember that temperature is one of the factors that affect dog shedding. That said, keeping your dog in a temperature-controlled environment should help keep his body warmer during the winter. This may lessen the shedding cycle of growth and removal.