Having dogs, especially the big ones with thick coats you’d probably ask yourself, “Why is my dog shedding so much?” Well, shedding among dogs is completely normal. However, there are moments when a dog is shedding more compared to what is considered normal. To know more about that, this article will explain the possible reasons behind dogs shedding a lot and the steps you can do to manage it.
Why Does a Dog Shed So Much?
As mentioned earlier, shedding among dogs is normal. According to the survey conducted by Embark, almost half of their respondents reported that their dogs experience regular shedding at least once a year.
Regular shedding is a canine’s natural way of removing damaged and old fur. However, there are instances where a dog is not shedding normally. The considered “normal” shedding varies depending on the dog’s breed as well as factors like genetics and physiology.
Now, unhealthy shedding is usually caused by the following factors:
Based on Tal, et al. (2018), imbalance and improper diets can cause several health problems in dogs – especially during their early life stage when they are extra-vulnerable. Moreover, according to DVM Roy Cruzen, this factor is also the most common reason for excessive shedding among dogs.
To avoid this from happening, ensure to choose dog foods and supplements that contain high-quality and authentic ingredients. It should also have the essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants your dog needs to have good overall health.
We also recommend visiting your veterinarian to consult about the best food that will suit your dog the most. In addition, a complete and balanced diet is not only about obtaining the needed nutrients but also about attaining the required amount of water intake every day. Dehydration is another culprit behind unhealthy shedding.
Dog allergies happen when a dog gets exposed to specific dog food, medication, and even shampoo ingredients that they are allergic to. According to Barnette and Ward (n.d), the usual results of dog allergies are the following:
- Itching skin
- Coughing and sneezing
However, aside from those, dog allergies can also cause extreme shedding. Some of the most common food ingredients that cause allergic reactions are corn, wheat, soy, dairy, beef, and chicken. Meanwhile, natural things like pollen, fleas, and dust are also potential allergens.
Lastly, based on the list from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, here are the human foods that are dangerous to dogs:
- Avocado, grapes, and raisins
- Caffeine and alcohol
- Nuts (and macadamia nuts), chocolate, milk, and dairy
- Onions and garlic
- Uncooked or raw eggs and yeast dough
- Salt in general
- Xylitol (sweetener)
If you are not sure of the cause of your dog’s allergic reaction, it is best to consult with a professional to prevent it from happening again.
When your dog suddenly shed heavier out of nowhere, you should also check if they acquired common parasites that target a dog’s coat such as mange mites, fleas, and ticks. Aside from excessive shedding, these parasites also pose a threat to your dog’s overall health.
Since these parasites cause excessive itching, your dog might be prone to other skin conditions and inflammations.
Using the wrong shampoo or not doing it properly is also another factor to consider why your dog is shedding so much. If you are using a human shampoo to bathe your dog, then you should stop it right away. The ph levels of human shampoos are not compatible with the pH levels of dogs. With that, when you use it on them, their acid mantle gets disrupted.
According to the American Kennel Club, an acid mantle acts like a barrier or protection layer of a dog’s skin against bacteria, parasites, and fungi. A damaged acid mantle will open the doors for bacteria to infiltrate your dog’s skin.
In addition, using the proper shampoo is not enough – you should also apply it properly to your dogs. Some dogs are not completely rinsed after bathing; thus, contributing to more unhealthy skin and coat conditions. Deshedding shampoos can also help your dog have less shedding.
Similar to humans, the cause of your dog’s excess shedding might be stress. Based on the article from Oakland Veterinary, a hormone named Epinephrine – one of the main stress hormones – is released every time a dog is in distress. This release may also trigger the dog’s unhealthy shedding.
These are the following common reasons why your dog is stressed:
- Significant environmental changes
- New family members or people in the house
- Loud noises
- Traveling (especially if going to the veterinary)
- Being alone
Meanwhile, there are some ways to minimize your dog’s stress levels:
- Identify the main cause
- Noise reduction
- Cuddling and playing with them
- More physical and mental activities
- Create a safe space for them
Above-average shedding might also be a result of a hormonal imbalance among dogs. There are specific dog breeds that might shed more than usual after giving birth and during their pregnancy. Moreover, being spayed and neutered, especially when they are already old, can also cause shedding.
Typically, hormonal hair loss only affects the body’s trunk, leaving the head and limbs unaffected. Hormonal shifts frequently make friction points like tails, thighs, and collar lines more prone to hair loss. Moreover, Alopecia X, a sex hormone imbalance, may also cause hair loss in dogs with thicker coats.
Other symptoms of hormonal imbalance are changes in behavior and energy levels, loss of appetite, and weight gain or loss.
Aside from the causes mentioned above, other diseases might be responsible for your dog’s excessive shedding. For example, excessive shedding, a drippy nose, white eye discharges, dandruff, and a dry, brittle coat are symptoms of problems in the lungs and the large intestine.
In addition to organ dysregulation, underlying illnesses including Cushing’s disease and gastrointestinal conditions are known to conceal themselves under excessive shedding. We strongly recommend visiting your local vet to confirm whether your dog’s unusual shedding is caused by other underlying health issues or concerns. And, to determine the right treatment.
How to Manage Dog Shedding
If you confirm that your dog is irregularly shedding, here are the proper ways of managing dog hair and shedding:
Since all dog’s brushing needs differ from each other, you should be aware of specific brushing instructions of your dog’s breed. In addition, according to the article from the Animal Humane Society Org, no matter how long your dog’s coat is, you should brush your dog every few days. Most of the time, you’ll be brushing or combing for general purposes, such as eliminating hair mats or assisting your dog in shedding their seasonal coat. Use an appropriate or the best dog brush for shedding.
Regular bathing also helps eliminate possible causes of excessive shedding. In this article by Central California SPCA (2016), dogs have different bathing needs. For example, oilier breeds like the Basset Hounds can be bathed once a week, while breeds with shorter coats like the Dachshunds can have long time intervals between both days.
In addition, breeds with double-coats and water-resistant coats like Chow Chows need more brushing than bathing. But, as the general rule of thumb, all dogs should take a bath at least once a month.
If an improper diet is a culprit behind your dog’s shedding, choose dog foods that contain all the necessary protein, vitamins, nutrients, and minerals needed by your pet. Plus, also check if your dog is not allergic to any of its ingredient content. Lastly, establish an appropriate feeding time to guarantee your dog’s balanced diet.
As mentioned earlier, dehydration can also cause excessive shedding. With that, ensuring that your dog is always hydrated helps in managing their shedding. Plus, hydration can prevent other medical issues from occurring.
Supplements can also help in managing your dog’s shedding and in making their coats healthier and smoother. These shedding supplements come in different forms, they can be bought as tablets, liquids, and chewable. For picky eaters, liquids and powders that can be incorporated into meals are often the best options.
To know whether your dog is shedding more than normal, it is best to observe their shedding condition ever since their puppy stage. Plus, the common causes of excessive shedding are lack of proper diet, allergies and parasites, wrong shampoo, stress and hormones, and also other diseases.