All dog owners will notice that their dogs "lose" their hair in varying amounts, and depending on the type of dog, will leave a fair amount of it all over the house, particularly on soft furnishings. The apparent hair loss, if it is not due to a skin problem, is due to shedding. Dog Shedding is the natural process by which old hair falls out and new hair begins to grow in its place. Shedding is a difficult problem for pet owners as it is a continous process, and seemingly does not stop. But if you happen to read or hear something about some dog breeds that don't shed, you can discount it. This dog shedding process is also called “moulting” and it is the process that enables your dog to get rid of old, or damaged hair and grow new hair.
Dog Shedding Stages
The hair grows from the hair follicle, located in the dermis. The hair goes through a number of growth phases namely, growing (anagen), transitioning (catagen) and resting (telogen). The length of each phase determines how often and by how much the dog sheds its coat. During the growth (anagen) phase, new hair grows actively. Dogs grow a lot of hair in the winter months, therefore have a heavier coat which gives the dog some protection against the cold. The growth phase is followed by the transition (catagen) phase, in which the hair stops growing, and then the rest (telogen) phase, during which the skin is resting, and the hair is neither growing nor shedding. It is however ready to shed, being pushed or pulled out, with some assistance.
Factors affecting Dog Shedding
The dog shedding process depends on a number of factors.
- Type of dog breed: the type and length of dog coat your pet has been born with plays a big part in how much shedding takes place. Some dog breeds have a single coat and the hairs that form the coat could be long or short. Others have a double coat where the undercoat is usually short hair, and the topcoat is formed from long coarser hair and will tend to shed more hair.
- Exposure to light: Some dogs shed regularly, whilst some go through seasonal shedding. Dogs that live outdoors experience seasonal changes in the length of their coat due to the effect of natural sunlight on the physiology of the animal's body. This is called the photoperiod effect, and varies with the seasons. Therefore, outdoor dogs will shed huge amounts of their coat in spring when the weather changes from the cold winter into the warmer spring months when the length of daytime hours increases significantly. Dogs that are exposed to indoor artificial lighting tend to shed some hair all year round due to the fact that they are exposed to constant amounts of indoor lighting.
- Health: Allergies, illness or stress and poor diet can also cause the dog to shed its coat. The illness may actually be physically expressed as a skin condition or skin infection which results in scaly flaky skin, or dog dry skin. Shedding or hair loss will usually occur in such cases.
If a dog is shedding more hair than you think it should, then its best to take the dog to your vet, who will be able to advice you on the cause and any necessary treatment. Nothing can be done to stop the shedding, simply because its a natural process. However, it can be controlled, essentially by dog grooming.
How to Control Dog Shedding
Dog shedding cannot be stopped, but it can be controlled so that pets and their owners enjoy a "hair-free" environment at home.
- Brushing the dog every day for a 5 -10 minutes will remove the old hairs and prevent the accumulation of dead hair which would otherwise then be left on furniture and clothing all over the house. Use a good Dog De-Shedding Grooming Tool and the task will be made so much easier.
- Regular cleaning of the house by vacuuming all soft furnishings such as carpets, curtains and furniture, will reduce the hair problem. Depending on the type and number of dogs in the house, it may be necessary to vacuum the house on a daily basis. Even the car could do with some vacuum cleaning.
- Wash the beddings and other soft furnishings once a week, including the dog bed.
- Bathing the dog will also help to remove the dead hair and reduce the hair nuisance in the house. Choose a good dog shampoo such as DermOpt Shampoo. If you find it difficult to bathe the dog, you could use the DermOpt Grooming Spray, whereby you spray the coat and brush it down. This will also stimulate the blood circulation in the skin and keep it healthy.
You can't stop the dog shedding, but you can control it to your satisfaction by following a good skin care regime.