Managing Shedding in Dogs: Insights from Muller & Kirk’s Small Animal Dermatology
Shedding in dogs is a natural process by which dogs lose their old or damaged fur to make way for new, healthier fur. Shedding in dogs is a common concern for many pet owners, and there is some veterinary science behind the process. The natural process of shedding for dogs is controlled by hormonal changes in their body. The frequency and amount of shedding can vary depending on the breed, age, health, and nutrition of the dog, as well as environmental factors such as temperature and light exposure.
Dealing with shedding can be challenging for pet owners. Deshedding your dog is essential for maintaining a healthy and happy pet. By understanding the natural shedding process, using the right tools, products and techniques while maintaining proper nutrition, and monitoring your dog’s shedding, you can reduce excessive shedding and promote a healthy coat.
Dogs shed their hair in cycles, and the shedding process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. During the shedding process, it is normal for a dog to lose up to 100 hairs a day.
Shedding as a complex process that involves the hair cycle, which consists of three phases:
- Anagen (growth phase)
- Catagen (transition phase), and
- Telogen (resting phase)
During the telogen phase, hair is released from the hair follicle and falls out as it is pushed by new hair growth, resulting in shedding. It is essential to note that shedding is normal, and excessive shedding can be an indication of health problems.
Influences of Shedding
The amount a dog sheds depends on several factors. These include:
- Younger dogs tend to shed more than adult dogs
- Unneutered or unspayed dogs may shed more during hormonal changes
- Environmental factors such as temperature and daylight hours
Dogs typically shed more during the spring and fall when their bodies are preparing for a change in temperature. Dogs that are exposed to artificial light may also shed more because their bodies are not responding to natural daylight hours.
Some dogs may experience excessive shedding due to underlying health issues. Excessive shedding may also be a sign of stress, anxiety, or boredom.
All dogs shed hair, but some breeds shed more than others. Breeds with thick, double coats such as the Siberian Husky, the Alaskan Malamute, and the German Shepherd are known to shed heavily twice a year while other breeds with short, single coats, such as the Boxer or the Greyhound, may shed moderately or minimally throughout the year. In addition, older dogs and those with underlying health conditions may shed more than healthy, younger dogs.
Regular grooming is not only beneficial for your dog’s health but also for the bond you share. Regular grooming and deshedding can help reduce the amount of fur that a dog sheds and can also help prevent matting and other coat problems. During the shedding process, the old or damaged fur is released from the hair follicles and falls out. This can result in a significant amount of loose fur that can become tangled and matted if not properly managed.
Regular grooming and deshedding can help manage shedding in dogs. This can include brushing, combing, and the use of specialized deshedding tools and products.
There are various tools and techniques available for deshedding dogs. Using the appropriate grooming tools, products, and techniques remove loose fur and help to prevent matting and tangling. It is important to use the appropriate tool for a dog’s coat type and to groom them gently to avoid damaging the skin or coat.
It is essential to monitor your dog’s shedding. If you notice excessive shedding or hair loss, it may be a sign of an underlying health issue. If you notice any unusual shedding patterns or signs of discomfort, consult your veterinarian immediately.
How to Deshed Your Dog like a Professional
To deshed your dog, it is crucial to have the right tools.
The best way to remove loose hair from your dog’s coat:
- A slicker brush
- has fine wire bristles that can penetrate deep into the dog’s coat and remove dead hair, mats, and tangles.
- A Deshedding tool
- specifically designed to remove loose undercoat hair from your dog’s coat
- HV Dryer
When deshedding your dog, start by brushing the coat in the opposite direction of hair growth. Use a firm, but gentle, pressure to remove as much loose hair as possible. Be careful not to pull too hard or irritate the skin. Once you have removed as much loose hair as possible, use a comb to remove any remaining tangles. Learn how to properly brush the coat by line brushing.
In addition to brushing and combing, it is essential to bathe your dog regularly. Bathing helps to remove any loose hair and dirt that may be trapped in the coat.
These professional bathing products loosen undercoat and combat shedding by adding strength to the hair root. Achieve a proper clean and add moisture, leaving your pet’s skin and coat totally manageable. These products dramatically reduce shedding when used on a regular basis, giving hair a fresh start.
A high-velocity dryer is a powerful tool used in dog grooming that blows warm air at a high speed to dry a dog’s coat quickly. This type of dryer is commonly used after a bath, as it helps to remove excess water from the dog’s coat and dry it thoroughly.
A high velocity dryer is important for the deshedding process of dogs because it can help to remove loose and dead fur from the coat more effectively than other tools, such as brushes or combs. When the dryer blows air through the dog’s coat, it lifts and separates the fur, allowing it to be removed more easily. When used in de-shedding impacted coats, let the HV dryer do the work for you. If you can see down to the skin of the dog, you have effectively groomed the dog.
While there are many deshedding products on the market, if you use the close–open–close method, any product can be successful in deshedding.
The “Close-Open-Close” bathing method is a technique used by some dog groomers to thoroughly clean a dog’s coat. It involves three steps:
This step closes the cuticle to protect it during the cleansing step. Pre–condition the coat, massaging conditioner deep into the coat and skin. Let it soak for a while. *As close as the dog will tolerate comfortably, hold the high velocity dryer perpendicular to the coat. The pelted undercoat will lift away from the skin.
Brush and rake as usual.
- “OPEN” CLEANSE
This step opens the follicle to allow for gentle cleansing. Shampoo and rinse as normal.
This step closes the skin and hair to retain hydration and give back the oils, minerals and collagen that were removed during the cleansing process. This is achieved by applying conditioner again. *As close as the dog will tolerate comfortably, hold the high velocity dryer perpendicular to the coat. The pelted undercoat will lift away from the skin.
Brush and rake as usual.
*for heavily shedding/impacted coats
Use the HV on low while product is in the coat as it acts as a lubricant to loosen the hair. Make sure your electrical outlet has the correct capacity and is GFCI-protected when using this method.
By following this three-step bathing method, groomers can ensure that a dog’s coat is clean, conditioned, and free of any tangles or mats. It’s important to use a high-quality dog shampoo and conditioner, and to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for dilution and application.
Proper nutrition and a balanced diet can also play a role in maintaining healthy skin and fur.
Nutrition plays an essential role in maintaining healthy skin and coat in dogs, which can help reduce excessive shedding. Proper nutrition, including a balanced diet that is high in protein and contains essential vitamins and minerals, can also help to reduce excessive shedding.
- A high-protein diet is crucial for maintaining healthy skin and coat in dogs. Protein provides essential amino acids that are necessary for the growth and repair of skin and hair. A diet that is deficient in protein can lead to poor coat quality and increased shedding.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Omega-3 fatty acids, such as EPA and DHA, are essential for maintaining healthy skin and coat in dogs. These fatty acids help to reduce inflammation and improve skin and coat quality. A diet that is deficient in omega-3 fatty acids can lead to dry, itchy skin, and increased shedding.
- Biotin is a B-vitamin that is essential for maintaining healthy skin and coat in dogs. Biotin helps to improve coat quality and reduce shedding. A diet that is deficient in biotin can lead to a dull coat and increased shedding.
- Zinc is a mineral that is essential for maintaining healthy skin and coat in dogs. Zinc helps to regulate the production of sebum, a natural oil that moisturizes the skin and coat. A diet that is deficient in zinc can lead to dry, itchy skin, and increased shedding.
- Adequate water intake is essential for maintaining healthy skin and coat in dogs. Water helps to keep the skin hydrated and moisturized, which can reduce shedding. A diet that is deficient in water can lead to dry, itchy skin, and increased shedding.
It is important to note that excessive supplementation of these nutrients is not recommended and could lead to toxicity. Pet owners should always consult with their veterinarian to determine the appropriate dietary requirements for their pet. Veterinarians can evaluate a dog’s overall health and recommend any dietary changes or supplements that may improve the condition of the skin and coat. If a dog’s shedding seems excessive or sudden, a veterinary exam may be necessary to rule out any underlying health problems.
While deshedding can help reduce the amount of fur that a dog sheds, it is important to note that shedding is a natural process and cannot be completely eliminated. Additionally, excessive shedding or sudden changes in a dog’s shedding patterns can be a sign of underlying health issues, and owners should consult their veterinarian if they have concerns.
Covering the diagnosis and treatment of hundreds of dermatologic conditions, Muller and Kirk’s Small Animal Dermatology, 7th Edition is today’s leading reference on dermatology for dogs, cats, and pocket pets.
Written by veterinary experts William Miller, Craig Griffin, and Karen Campbell, this resource helps students and clinicians distinguish clinical characteristics and variations of normal and abnormal facilitating accurate diagnosis and effective therapy.
We have referenced Muller & Kirk’s Small Animal Dermatology as a comprehensive reference book on the subject of veterinary dermatology and a wide range of topics related to skin and coat health in small animals, including the process of shedding.
Small Animal Dermatology is beneficial for anyone who practices veterinary dermatology, including specialists, general practitioners, students, and technicians.
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