• Linda Healy

Shedding

Do you sometimes feel as if your dog is shedding so much, you could knit yourself a sweater with her hair? When it comes to hair loss, dogs sure have a lot of hair to get rid of, but there's usually nothing abnormal about it.

Shedding is a normal part of the cycle of your dog's hair growth. The amount of normal shedding that a pet does is very much dependent on the type of coat she has, genetics and the environment in which she lives. Most outdoor dogs have a shedding season in the spring as their winter coats are lost. However, if your dog is an indoor pooch, she possibly won't be outside long enough for her body to register the change in season, so she will shed all year round.

All dogs shed, some more than others, unless they're one of the few hairless breeds with absolutely nothing to lose. Longhaired dogs might appear to shed more, but really it's just the length of their hair that gives that illusion. Dogs that really shed the most include Collies, Dalmations, German Shepherds and Samoyeds. If you want a dog that loses hair lightly, consider a Poodle, Bichon Frise or maybe an Old English Sheepdog.

Even though shedding is completely normal, occasionaly dogs will begin losing much more hair than they usually do. When bald patches begin showing through the fur, there's probably something wrong and you need to visit your vet right away for diagnosis and treatment. There are physical problems that can cause dogs to lose abnormal amounts of hair, including mange, ringworm, skin infections, stress and even cancer. But just because your pet is getting older, she shouldn't be losing her hair. It isn't normal for the coat to thin out as a pet ages.

Help for hair loss

Nature intended for your dog to shed and there isn't anything you can do to stop it. But if your dog is a big shedder, you can make it less of a problem. Forget drugs or nutritional supplements. The best way to handle excessive shedding is simply to remove dead hair before it deposits itself on your clothes, carpets and furniture.

To get rid of the dead hair from our dog's coat, the thing to do is to brush her once a day, especially during the shedding season. There are a variety of grooming tools that you can use, from slicker brushes to combs specifically designed to remove loose hair.

Your groomer or your vet will recommend the tools and techniques that will work best with your dog's coat. Don't be surprised if you fill a garbage bag with hair on your first serious salon session. You may well think there's more hair in the bags than there is left on your dog. But remember, if the hair loss is abnormal, she would have bald spots. Otherwise, keep brushing until her coat feels soft and clean.

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