All mammals shed, to some degree, but it can sometimes seem like your dog must be a real champion. Even though shedding can be a little messy, it is a generally a sign of good health. It shows that your pet is normal and healthy.
Shedding is part of the hair growth cycle. It allows your dog’s coat to release unhealthy or damaged hair and make room for new growth. How heavy or frequent the shedding is depends a lot on your dog’s breed, but there are other factors involved. Being aware of these may help you to keep shedding to a minimum, but your goal shouldn’t be to eliminate it entirely. It’s going to happen, and we can help.
The Hair Growth Cycle
All dogs follow a cycle of hair growth with four phases. Some breeds spend longer in a given phase than other breeds, and that’s where the differences in shedding come from.
The first phase is called the Anagen, or Growth phase. It is when new hair is growing in. If your dog has a short anagen phase, shedding may be nearly continuous, as is the case with Beagles and Laboradors. Understanding this phase can help you see why dogs with shorter hair seem to shed more often.
When the growth stops, the coat enters the Catagen, or regressing stage. This is the transition period, when the new hair has finished growing and becomes established.
Next the hair enters the Telogen, or resting phase. How long this lasts depends on the breed and on the climate. Eventually, rest time is over and the hair is shed during the Exogen phase.
What can make things a little complicated is that at any given time there can be hairs in all of these phases, on the same dog! This is a really good thing when you think about it, because if the whole dog were in Exogen then the coat would be completely gone.
The Seasons and the Breed
Shedding is generally triggered by the seasons – in particular by changes in the amount of daylight. Hair growth is stimulated by longer days. So in the spring, the heavy winter coat is shed and replaced by new, lighter growth. But, shedding often takes place more than once a year, and this really has to do with the rate of hair growth for that particular dog.
Breeds (like German Shepards, Pomeranians, etc.) that are double-coated will usually drop their undercoats twice a year, but only lose the topcoat once a year. Sometimes both coats shed at once. This is called “blowing a coat” – or “Armageddon”, depending on who does the vacuuming.
Other breeds may shed continuously (like a dripping faucet), and others just once in 10 -12 months. Depending on the breed, shedding can last from 3-8 weeks.
There are some external factors that influence the shedding cycle. These include a few that we can actually do something about, so read on.
Indoor vs. Outdoor
Since the coat responds to exposure to daylight, dogs that spend all their time indoors are likely to shed pretty much all the time. Their coats are not getting the cues that tell the hairs to “rest.” Indoor dogs really benefit from frequent brushing, and this will also cut down on the amount of hair that’s left around the house.
When a dog is not getting enough of some nutrients, hair loss can result. This is not healthy shedding. It indicates that your pet is deficient in protein, B vitamins, copper, or zinc. This type of hair loss is usually seen over the back and hips.
Bathing with harsh shampoos or bathing too frequently can both damage to the hair and extra shedding. Sometimes hair growth will pause after a dog has been clipped, as well.
Excessive shedding can be a sign of poor health. A dog may shed because of allergies some sort of skin infection, and other conditions. Your pet’s coat can be a useful indicator of his or her overall health.
What to do?
So we know that shedding is healthy, but that doesn’t make us like it. Happily, there are ways to make the process much less troublesome, for you and your pet. A thorough bath and grooming will dramatically reduce the loose hair in your pet’s coat. There are a huge selection of brushes and shedding tools that you can try at home, but rather than spending your time and money on those, why not leave it to the experts at Bubbles Pet Spa?
Our De-Shedding Treatment stops shedding in your pet’s undercoat by completely removing loose hair. For most dogs, it reduces shedding by 90%. This treatment is really recommended for double-coated breeds that need to shed that undercoat to maintain a comfortable body temperature. It shortens the process so your pet is sleek and comfortable in no time.
Spend more time enjoying your pal and less time cleaning up the fallout. Check out the services at Bubbles Pet Spa today. We’ll even pick your dog up!