Shedding in Cats & Dogs
White hairs are stuck firmly in your favourite black sweater. Balls of hair are on the floor and they remind you of those tumbleweeds seen rolling about in classic cowboy movies. The never-ending battle with your pet’s fur can sometimes have you staring longingly at the scissors. A bald dog wouldn’t be that unattractive, would it? Though it pains us to think logically about it, shedding is a natural part of our pet’s life, getting rid of old hair and allowing space for new hair to replace it. In this article, we will find answers to some common questions about shedding.
I am convinced my dog sheds an abnormally large amount
You’ve visited friend’s dogs, and almost want to swap dogs. Their dog seems to lose almost no fur, while your pooch ‘rains’ fur whenever you pet him/her. You’re not hallucinating; it could very well be true. Some dogs do shed a lot more than others, especially those that have a double coat. Imagine wearing two of your winter coats in the summer! Your dog cannot just take off its coat(s) like we can, so it sheds them. Dogs lose their topcoat in larger quantities and more often then the coat underneath (the undercoat). Though the likelihood that the excessive shedding is normal, I would be remiss if I did not mention that some illnesses could also cause this. If your dog is shedding more than normally, or you are concerned, check in with your friendly neighborhood veterinarian.
I thought dogs/cats were only supposed to shed in the spring and fall, why is mine shedding all year round?
Ah, the joys of living in air-conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter! Although spring and fall would be the times when your pet will shed more, our pets tend to continually shed throughout the year as a result of our insulated houses. Although this is inconvenient for human pet owners, we need to think of it this way. Do we humans not bundle up with winter clothes when we go outside in January? Maybe we take off a sweater or change into shorts when we venture outside in the middle of July. Of course, that’s what we humans do to regulate our body temperatures. Using a similar principle for our pets, they too need to adjust when the outside temperature differs from the inside temperature. You can see why this would muck with a pet’s thermostat. They get the shock of the temperature change every time they go outside and need to try and keep a certain amount of fur to make them comfortable inside and outside the house. They are constantly getting mixed signals from their body, so they are constantly loosing fur.
Should I shave my double-coated dog in the summer to make it cooler?
This seems like a fine solution, get rid of half the fur and it will be cooler. Be warned! This may NOT be a good option for your dog. Dogs with a double coat are able to tolerate the heat because they have a double coat. They shed in the summer to lose the thicker winter coat, and grow in the thinner summer one. The guard hairs on the outer coat protect against UV light, helping protect your pet’s skin from being burned. Also, the two coats act as insulation: they keep the dog warmer in the winter AND cooler in the summer. It works both ways! Thus, shaving the coat of a double-coated dog offers the dog little protection from the weather, and may actually do it more harm than good.
I’m about to rip out my own hair, I’m so frustrated with the amount of fur my dog sheds. Is there any way to make it shed less?
Unfortunately, there is no magical cure for shedding hair. However, one simple thing that may help greatly is to groom your dog/cat EVERY day. This is good for them in more ways than just decreasing hair shedding and not messing up your house.
- Firstly, regular brushing gets rid of the dead skin and fur, thus preventing it from having the chance to accumulate on the body and come out all at once in an overwhelming manner.
- Secondly, brushing stimulates the skin, keeping it healthier and the fur tangle-free.
- Lastly, spending this time every day will help to deepen your bond with your pet. If they have an aversion to the brush, working slowly and gently every day with them will let them grow to like (or at least tolerate) it. If they enjoy it, they get to relax and have a nice massage.
By Laura Platt – Pets.ca writer