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How Does Shedding Work?

person pulling shedded dog fur from a dog's back

Shedding is a natural process that is not limited to dogs and happens in all animals (including humans). The only difference is the rate of shedding and we shed much slower than our furry companions. Loose dog hair can make the house look messy and owners must have some remedies up their sleeves to control the situation. Keep reading to know about the common triggers of shedding and learn how you can work to control it.

Have you ever wondered “Why is My Dog Shedding So Much?” Click here to learn more.

Stages of Shedding

It is very important to know about the growth cycle of your dog’s hair to minimize the problem of shedding. This also helps an owner to understand different coat types and make an informed decision while adopting a dog. Shedding can be divided into the following four stages.

  • Anagen – In this active period, the new hair grow to their maximum length. Your dog will shed very little hair during this phase because there are hardly any loose hair.
  • Catagen – In this stage, the hair stops growing. It allows the roots to grip the hair as they shrink around the newly grown hair.
  • Telogen – Both the hair and roots don’t do much in this phase. This is because the new roots are developing (inside the skin) and will pop out at the right time.
  • Exogenous – This is the phase in which your dog will shed the most. The old hair are displaced to make room for new roots (and hair). They will then enter the anagen stage and the cycle keeps repeating.       

What Triggers Dog Shedding?

Some of the major factors that can instigate your pooch to shed more hair are discussed below.

Seasonal Shedding

Jack Russell Terrier in snow, wearing a scarf and rolling a large ball of snow.

Dogs with double coats shed a lot of hair during fall and winter to regulate their body temperature. For example, they get rid of the undercoat to release more heat during summer. Similarly, they replace the lighter coat with a heavier one to preserve body heat in winter.

Types of Dog Coats

Dogs come in a variety of coat textures and each one of them will shed at a different rate. For instance, canines with smooth, double coats shed heavily and will require extensive grooming. On the other hand, dogs with wiry coats will lose less hair. However, they will still require plenty of grooming to prevent tangles.

Health Issues

Golden retriever on an exam table while someone in purple scrubs and wearing gloves examines the dog.

Unhealthy dogs tend to shed more hair than healthy ones. Parasites, like tapeworms, damage the skin and hair follicles and your pooch will lose more hair. Likewise, certain chronic diseases can also result in excessive hair loss.

Allergies

Dogs can be allergic to certain foods, medicines, and grooming supplies. All of these allergies will affect the skin of your pup and they will experience a lot of shedding. Flea allergies are also quite common for canines.

Lack of Nutrition

Yellow Labrador with a metal dog bowl in its mouth standing in a partially open doorway.

A balanced diet is extremely important for keeping the skin of your dog healthy. Your dog’s food must contain a reasonable quantity of good fatty acids (Omega-3 and Omega-6) to provide proper nourishment. You can either purchase high-quality dog food or cook a healthy meal for your pup.

What Can I Feed My Dog to Stop Shedding? Click here to learn more.

Hormonal Imbalance

This is one of the lesser-known reasons for shedding in dogs. The thyroid hormones are responsible for stimulating the follicles. Any imbalance in these hormones will make the coat of your dog extra dry. Hence, it will shed more than usual.

Stress

Corgi peeking out from under a coffee table.

Anxiety is a massive problem for dogs and it can have a variety of side effects. Excessive shedding is one of them and you should take your pup to the vet if that’s the case. In most cases, anti-anxiety medications and treatment of behavioral issues prove beneficial for curing the problem.

When is the Shedding Season?

Australian Shepherd looking up through white wildflowers with yellow centers

Spring and fall are regarded as the shedding season for dogs because these furry companions shed excessively during these months. This is caused by the change in temperature because most breeds are double-coated and will get rid of the extra layer of protection in summer. Similarly, they shed lighter coats to prepare themselves for the winter.

However, some dogs (like Shih Tzus and Bichon Frises) won’t shed a lot of hair in the shedding season. This is because they have a lighter undercoat and won’t need to lose too much hair. Basic grooming, such as brushing and bathing, is necessary to deal with the shedding of both types of dogs.

How to Minimize Dog Shedding?

Man with a lint roller cleaning dog hair from his black shirt.

The following tips and tricks can prove quite handy in controlling the shedding of your furry companion.

Rule Out Medical Conditions – This should always be your first step when your dog starts shedding excessively because it is a symptom of several diseases. For example, parasitic infections, allergies, Cushing’s disease, and cancer can cause your dog to lose too much hair. The vet will check for all these problems and suggest a suitable plan to counter the underlying disorder.

Groom Your Dog Regularly – Brushing your dog every day or 2-3 times a week can make a significant impact in controlling shedding. This is because it stimulates the follicles and spread the oils across the skin. Hence, the hair become softer and healthier. Similarly, bathe your pooch once or twice a week with vet-recommended shampoos to minimize hair loss.

Ensure a Balanced Diet – It’s imperative to ensure that your pooch is getting the right amount of useful fatty acids (Omega-3 and Omega-6). Choose foods that are loaded with these nutrients and are free from allergenic ingredients. Likewise, you should give your dog plenty of drinking water to prevent dehydration.  

Lowest Shedding Dog Breeds

Person holding up an American Hairless Terrier puppy in front of some green plants outdoors

Some of the dogs that shed very little hair are listed below.

  • American Hairless Terrier
  • Bichon Frise
  • Chinese Crested
  • Maltese
  • Peruvian Inca Orchid
  • Poodle
  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • Xoloitzcuintli

Highest Shedding Dog Breeds

Portrait of an Akita outdoors

The dogs that shed the most amount of hair are as follows.

  • Akita
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Chow Chow
  • German Shepherd
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Saint Bernard
  • Siberian Husky

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