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Managing Seasonal Shedding in Dogs

A dog shedding fur

Dog shedding is an unfortunately common experience for dog owners everywhere and can feel incredibly frustrating, especially if you or someone close to you suffers from allergies. However, shedding is a natural and healthy process for dogs. 

Seasonal shedding typically peaks in the fall and spring. However, some dogs may shed consistently throughout the year, which can make their shedding less noticeable. 

Dogs that have double coats tend to experience significant shedding during these seasons. A double coat consists of a top layer of long, stiff hairs and a softer undercoat beneath, which helps insulate them against temperature changes.

Fortunately, there are ways to control your dog’s shed, and make it a little more comfortable for them. This article will cover 5 tips for coping with seasonal shedding in dogs, as well as helping you understand shedding.

Why Do Dogs Shed Fur?

A small white dog

Dogs shed their fur as a natural part of their hair growth cycle and as a way to adapt to changing environmental conditions. Shedding allows dogs to remove old, damaged, or extra hair and maintain a healthy coat that protects their skin and helps regulate their body temperature.

A dog's hair growth cycle consists of four primary stages, each affecting how much a dog sheds:

  1. Anagen Phase: This is the growth phase where new hair is produced. The length of this phase determines the maximum length of a dog’s hair. In breeds with continuously growing hair, like Poodles, this phase can last quite long.

  2. Catagen Phase: During this transitional phase, hair growth slows and eventually stops. The hair follicle shrinks, and the hair is prepared to enter the resting phase.

  3. Telogen Phase: This is the resting phase where the hair does not grow and remains attached to the follicle. The duration of this phase can vary greatly and affects the overall density of the coat.

  4. Exogen Phase: This is the shedding phase where old hair falls out of the follicle, and the cycle can restart with the anagen phase. The rate of shedding can be influenced by the dog's general health, nutritional status, and external factors like stress.

There are also factors such as seasonal changes, age, nutrition, or health changes that can accelerate or deccelerate a dog’s shed. How long a dog sheds for will also vary between breeds, and depending on seasonal conditions.

There are several health conditions that can cause excessive shedding, such as allergic skin disease, hypothyroidism and Cushing's disease- leading to a thin coat or bald spots. If you pet is excessively scratching or developing thin areas of hair or irritated skin, ensure you discuss this with your Vet.

When is Peak Dog Shedding Season?

Peak dog shedding season typically occurs during the transitions between seasons, particularly in spring and fall. This pattern is especially notable in dogs with double coats, but it can affect almost any breed to some degree.

Spring Shedding

A dog laying in the grass in spring

In spring, dogs shed their thick winter coats to prepare for the warmer weather. This helps them regulate their body temperature more effectively as temperatures rise. This shedding period usually starts as early as March and can extend into early June. During this time, you might notice a significant increase in the amount of fur your dog sheds.

Fall Shedding

Conversely, in the fall, dogs begin to shed their lighter summer coats to make way for the growth of a denser, warmer winter coat. This typically starts around September and can continue into November. The new coat that grows in is meant to provide better insulation for the colder months ahead.

Five Tips to Dealing with Seasonal Shedding

Dealing with dog shedding effectively involves regular grooming, dietary management, and overall health care. Here are five practical tips to help you manage your dog’s shedding:

Regular and Proper Grooming

Brushing your dog regularly is one of the most effective ways to control shedding, but needs will vary depending on your dog’s coat type.

Short-haired dogs might benefit from daily brushing with a bristle brush or a rubber grooming tool to remove loose fur and stimulate the skin. Long-haired dogs often require more frequent brushing to prevent tangles and mats, using tools like a slicker brush or a steel comb.

Dogs with double coats benefit from using an undercoat rake during peak shedding seasons to remove the loose undercoat.

High-Quality Diet

Feeding your dog a balanced diet rich in essential fatty acids, like omega-3 and omega-6, can improve the health of their coat and may  reduce excessive shedding through a reduction in scratching behaviour.

Look for dog foods that list meat as the first ingredient and include natural fats and oils.

Regular Baths 

Bathing your dog helps to wash away excess fur and loosens any hair that’s ready to shed. Use a shampoo formulated for dogs, as human shampoo can dry out their skin and make shedding worse. During peak shedding times, increasing the bathing frequency can help control the amount of hair that ends up around the house.

Remember however, that in dogs with healthy skin, baths need to be no more frequent than monthly, unless they are visibly dirty.

Keep Your Dog Hydrated 

Adequate water intake is crucial for keeping your dog's skin and coat healthy. Dry skin can increase shedding, so ensure your dog always has access to fresh, clean water. Adding wet food to their diet can also help increase their overall fluid intake.

Consult Your Veterinarian 

As always, if you have any queries or concerns, it’s best to consult your veterinarian.

If your dog’s shedding seems excessive or if they’re showing signs of skin irritation, bald patches, or other health issues, contact our team on 0849 5944 049. We can rule out medical problems like allergies, hormonal imbalances, or other conditions that might be causing abnormal shedding.

While shedding is a crucial biological process for dogs, managing it effectively is important for minimising discomfort and keeping the home environment clean and healthy. Regular grooming, proper nutrition, and veterinary care can help control shedding and alleviate the potential issues it may cause.

Why not check out our Vital Pets Club to spread the cost of vaccinations? A 12 month subscription includes routine check-ups, annual vaccines, monthly flea and worming treatments and much more, plus discounts in shop and on certain procedures. All designed to help improve the longevity and quality of your pet's life.

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