You brush your dog regularly, yet you constantly find balls of hair on the floor. Most dogs shed, so you are prepared to do some extra vacuuming, but what’s going on at your home might be excessive. There are ways to tell whether your dog is shedding too much.
Shedding is a natural process for most dogs. It’s how they rid old, damaged hair. Many dogs shed their winter coats when the weather turns warm, and the breed type determines how much hair is shed. But a dog’s health can also determine the amount of shedding that occurs. To control normal shedding, regular brushing usually does the trick. If you are concerned that your dog is shedding more than a normal amount, take him to a veterinarian for a diagnosis.
Dogs can shed more than normal when they are not getting proper nutrition. Start feeding your dog a high-quality nutritious dog food, and see whether his shedding lessens. Read the label on the food bag before you buy it. Nutritious food lists specific meat as the first ingredient, such as beef, chicken or lamb. Do not choose a food that lists only “meat” as an ingredient. That typically means it is meat from a rendering plant that uses road kill or diseased meat. Poor quality dog food might list corn as the main ingredient. Avoid food that contains meat by-products. Those could be feathers, hooves, beaks, skin, fur and eyes. Also, choose soy-free food because many dogs are allergic to soy, which could cause skin problems and shedding.
Excessive shedding could be caused by a health condition, such as parasites, fungal or bacterial infections, allergies, kidney or liver disease, thyroid disease, pregnancy, medications, cancer, sunburn, immune disease or contact with a caustic substance. Take your dog to the vet if he has skin irritation, sores, a bald or thinning coat, or dry hair that you can easily pull out. Other signs your dog should see a vet are constant scratching or foot licking.
Dealing with Shedding
Regular grooming sessions eliminate some excess hair, prevent tangles and mats, and give you a chance to check for signs of fleas. Dogs with long hair need daily brushing. Besides brushing your dog, bathe him at least every three months. Use a dog shampoo because your shampoo might contain fragrances that could irritate a dog’s skin.
Laura Agadoni has been writing professionally since 1983. Her feature stories on area businesses, human interest and health and fitness appear in her local newspaper. She has also written and edited for a grassroots outreach effort and has been published in "Clean Eating" magazine and in "Dimensions" magazine, a CUNA Mutual publication. Agadoni has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University-Fullerton.