What Dog Owners Need to Know About Shedding!

What Dog Owners Need to Know About Shedding!


Your dog’s hair grows in stages. Each hair follicle has a rapid growth period, the anagen phase, followed by a slower growth period, and then the resting phase, the catagen phase. While in the resting phase, the mature hair remains in the follicles, and at some point detaches from the base. When your dog starts to shed, this is the telogen phase; the new hair pushes out the old hair and the cycle stars all over. Normally it takes most breeds about four months to grow their coats.


Dogs shed their coat year round, although they typically shed more as the hair coat thickens or thins during the seasonal changes of fall and spring. The amount of shedding is more of a response to the length of daylight than to the temperature. Longer periods of daylight in the spring activates the shedding process, usually lasting four to six weeks, and in the fall as the days grow shorter, this can cause another round of shedding. The appearance of shedding is always more noticeable on dogs that have double coats, as they will appear to have large patches of hair missing and you can see the undercoat exposed. At no point should you see bare skin exposed during the shedding process, as this is usually a sign of an underlying disease process.


Shedding can cause some problems for dogs with long thick hair. Shedding is much more noticeable in dogs with long, thick hair than in those with short hair. Hair mats frequently develop around the ears, in the long hair on the legs, and on the belly, but they can form anywhere on the body. Matted hair can lead to skin conditions such as hot spots. Mats are best removed with electric trimmers; and it is always much safer to take your dog to the groomer to have them removed; using scissors can accidentally cut the skin.


Normal shedding is a gradual process and should produce no noticeable bare spots, which can be a sign of a skin condition or a generalized illness such as a hormonal disorder. If you see any bare, itchy, or raw areas you need to make an appointment with your veterinarian. The best way to deal with normal shedding is to keep your dog groomed on a regular basis. During the shedding process it is advised to perform a daily brushing to remove dead hair, which will decrease mat formation and will cut down on hair within the home. It is also advised to make monthly grooming appointments for your dog.

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