Why Do Dogs Shed?

PetMD Editorial
Jan 06, 2016
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Even though shedding is normal for nearly all types of dogs, sometimes excessive hair loss can be a sign of a something more serious. Here’s a look at why dogs shed, what’s considered “normal” shedding, and the warning signs of a potential problem.

Reasons Dogs Shed

A dog’s fur helps control his body temperature and protects his skin against the sun and other environmental elements. When a dog’s hair stops growing, he will naturally lose it by shedding. The amount and frequency will depend on several things, including the dog’s health condition, breed and sometimes the season and environment.

How Much Shedding is Normal?

Dogs, especially double-coated breeds, typically shed their undercoats during the spring and fall. Heavy-shedding breeds include Border Collies, Labrador Retrievers, Beagles and German Shepherds. What might seem like heavy shedding can be completely normal for some dogs, but it can also be the result of an underlying health condition.

Abnormal Causes of Shedding

If there’s been a big change in your dog’s environment, the amount of hair they shed can increase. Dogs that are experiencing an increase in shedding due to stress or anxiety may benefit from your loving comfort. Additionally, consult your veterinarian to see if medications or supplements would help the situation.

Certain skin disorders may also lead to hair loss and bald patches. For example, an infestation of parasites, like fleas, lice or mites, can cause excessive hair loss. Ringworm, dermatitis and certain types of fungal infections, immune diseases and cancers can cause hair loss, too. If you notice skin irritations, like bumps, scabs or a rash, in addition to hair loss, speak with your veterinarian immediately.

Hormonal changes and allergies are another cause of shedding. Certain foods, medications, household cleaners and grooming supplies may trigger allergic reactions in dogs.

How Can I Manage My Dog’s Shedding?

While you can’t prevent a healthy dog from shedding normally, you can ask a groomer or veterinarian for product recommendations that will work with your dog’s fur-type and can help reduce the amount of loose hair in your home. If you are concerned that your dog is experiencing hair loss due to a pest infestation, skin condition, stress or medical issue, work with your veterinarian to pinpoint the issue and treat it appropriately. 

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