Those with dogs at home are familiar with the concept of shedding. When a dog sheds, dead or damaged fur is removed to make way for new, healthy fur. There is a great deal of variation in how much a dog sheds depending on its breed, coat type, pregnancy status, and general health. While some dogs constantly shed throughout the year, some shed seasonally in summer, and some appear not to shed at all. All dogs undergo a normal shedding cycle that cannot be avoided.
A dog whose skin appears irritated or abnormal may have an underlying medical condition that requires veterinary treatment.
If you're okay with having a dog that sheds a lot or you are not too worried about having a bit of fur on your furniture, this article shares tips for keeping your home clean. You should choose a dog with a low level of shedding if you are concerned about the cleanliness and a spotless home. We will also discuss why dogs shed, which breeds shed the most (and least), how to manage shedding, and how to stop excessive shedding.
What Causes Dogs to Shed?
Before answering this question, let's first discuss the basic features of a dog's coat. Among the many functions of a coat is to provide insulation from cold temperatures in the winter and protection from the scorching heat in the summer.
There are three types of hair on a dog's coat: primary, secondary, and tactile.
A dog's tactile hairs, like its whiskers, help him sense his surroundings. The outer coat is composed of long, coarse hairs. A soft undercoat is made up of secondary hairs.
It's time to answer the big question of why dogs shed. Dogs must shed to get rid of dead or damaged hair so that new and healthy hair can grow.
There are two types of sheds: year-round and seasonal shedding. In the spring, these dogs shed to prepare for the summer with lighter outer coats. As the fall season approaches, shedding allows for a thicker and warmer undercoat growth. As a result, outdoor dogs, including strays, are shed in the spring and fall.
In an indoor environment, dogs shed year-round since the artificial heat and light don't provide the seasonal signals to control when they shed.
Light and heat aren't the only factors that affect a dog's shedding. Health also plays an important role. Shedding can be caused by stress, anxiety, and a variety of health conditions. Notably, pregnancy may cause shedding due to a loss of vitamins and minerals that support a healthy coat.
Does every dog shed?
The answer is yes. Dogs shed naturally, but the amount and rate of shedding will vary among breeds and individuals within a breed. Several breed characteristics, including the type of coat, influence how much a dog sheds.
Poodles, for example, have hair that does not turn over quickly. There won't be a lot of shedding with these breeds.
It may seem that breeds with longer, silkier hair, such as Collies, shed a lot, but that's only sometimes the case. Labrador Retrievers, for example, tend to shed more than dogs with long coats due to their short, dense coats.
Does a puppy shed?
Yes, they do!
Soft, fluffy coats provide puppies with the insulation they need to keep their body temperatures steady.
The coat will eventually shed and be replaced by a thicker coat as an adult. Depending on the breed, the puppy will grow a single or double coat.
Some breeds have drastically different coats when they are adults from when they are puppies. For instance, the coats of Dalmatian puppies are spotless, while the coats of Dalmatian adults are spotted.
When puppies reach 4 to 6 months, they usually begin shedding their puppy coats, but this shedding can start as early as three months of age. It is common for puppies to appear unkempt while shedding their puppy coats until they are covered in adult coats.
It may take several years for some breeds to develop their adult coats. It can take nearly two years for Pomeranian puppies to reach their adult coats.
What breeds shed the most?
Some breeds shed heavily by nature. Breeds with thick double coats, such as Siberian Huskies and Akitas, shed heavily to protect themselves against cold temperatures.
They shed more than any other breed in the spring due to their double coats. During the summer, they blow their coats, shedding the soft undercoat. Large clumps of hair are similar to sheep's wool and sufficient to fill a large trash bag (or two).
Other dog breeds that shed a lot include:
- Chow Chow
- Saint Bernard
- Golden Retriever
- Labrador Retriever
- German Shepherd
- Bernese Mountain Dog
Breeds of dogs that shed the least
Pet dander accumulates on dogs' hair and is released into the air during shedding. Dog breeds that shed little are bred to do so. These dogs shed very little, which is excellent for allergy sufferers allergic to pet dander.
Often, low-shedding breeds are called hypoallergenic, but this is misleading since all dogs shed, and their hair contains allergy-inducing dander.
These are some of the low-shedding dog breeds:
- Irish Terrier
- Bichon Frise
- Afghan Hound
- Giant Schnauzer
- Miniature Poodle
- American Hairless Terrier
Shedding: how to limit it
To limit and control your pet's shedding in the first place, you can take some preventative measures.
Brushing your dog regularly (daily or every three days, depending on your breed) will remove loose hair in a controlled manner, so you can clean it up faster before it spreads throughout your home. Brushing your dog regularly stimulates hair follicles, keeping its coat looking smooth, vibrant, and shiny.
It is necessary to control allergies and fleas to prevent your pet from scratching. To avoid excessive hair loss caused by scratching, ensure they receive flea and tick treatment regularly.
You should take your pet to the vet if you notice their skin is irritated or they are scratching a lot.
By keeping their coats healthy, dogs will shed less because they shed dead, damaged, and dry hair. The amount of shedding your dog produces can also be reduced by washing them once a week with an oatmeal shampoo (or once every two weeks, depending on their breed).
Regular brushing removes damaged and dead hair that would fall out anyway. In addition to spreading healthy skin oils throughout your dog's coat, brushing also promotes healthy skin. Your dog's fur will accumulate in the brush and floor, making cleanup easy.
Depending on your dog's breed, your veterinarian or groomer can advise you on how often to brush them. For light shedders, a monthly brushing is usually sufficient. Heavy shedders should be brushed at least once a week, if not daily.
Choosing the right brush is essential. Brushes with bristles work well on coarse coats, while pin brushes work well on long and silky coats. There are also brushing gloves available. Regardless of your brush, always brush your dog's hair in the direction it grows.
When you bathe, you get rid of dead or damaged hair and collect it in one location. Shampoos containing oatmeal are ideal for dogs who shed a lot because they promote a healthy, shiny coat.
Ask your veterinarian how often your dog should be bathed. Some dogs can get by with a monthly bath, while others need to be washed every week to two weeks.
A diet that promotes health
Maintaining your dog's coat and reducing shedding is more manageable with a well-balanced diet packed with essential nutrients. Dietary fats such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids play a crucial role in maintaining good health.
Supplementing your dog's diet with fatty acids is an option if they aren't already included in the food. As an example, Dinovite daily whole food supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and vitamin E to support skin and coat health. If you're unsure which fatty acid supplement to choose, consult your veterinarian.
Another dietary remedy for reducing dog shedding is coconut oil. Your dog can benefit from coconut oil, preferably unrefined or virgin coconut oil. In addition to its healthy fats, it contains Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). Your veterinarian can advise you on how much to add. Overconsumption of coconut oil may result in greasy stools or diarrhea.
Allergy management for dogs
Making sure your dog sheds as little as possible can help you control your allergy symptoms and still allow you to have a dog in your house.
Symptoms of allergies include swollen or puffy eyes, sneezing, coughing, and a runny nose.
To control allergies, you can choose a dog that sheds less, minimize dog-to-human contact, discourage your dog from licking you, keep your dog off the couch, let your dog spend time outside, and make sure you dust and clean regularly.
Controlling your dog's shedding
The shedding of your dog doesn't need to consume your life. The best way to keep your home clean and smelling fresh is to implement a few simple ways to take care of your dog's coat.
Keeping up with dog shedding
Dogs shed to keep their coats healthy, a normal part of their lives. Your dog's shedding should be managed with a routine to prevent your home from becoming overrun with dog hair.
Consult your veterinarian if your dog is excessively shedding and his skin appears unhealthy to determine what's causing the problem and the best treatment.
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