As a small animal veterinarian practicing in hot South Florida, shedding dog hair is one of the most common concerns from my clients. Owning a 150-pound Saint Bernard that belongs in the Arctic, not on the sunny beaches of South Florida, I totally relate with my pet parent’s frustration with their shedding dog. So why do our pets shed, and what can we do to help combat the mess? How much shedding is normal and when should I be concerned that there is a problem?
Shedding hair is a natural and normal process in dogs and cats. Unless you have a hairless breed, most pets shed. Shedding hair helps animals to get rid of their old winter coats, or summer coats, and promotes new seasonally appropriate hair growth. Natural shedding is associated with diet, health, season, temperature, stresses, and exposure to sunlight. Some uncommon reasons that pets shed are injury, trauma, and malnutrition, and it is important to distinguish the difference between normal and unhealthy shedding. Every hair has a “life cycle” with three phases and a predestined length. The anagen phase is when the hair is actively growing. The catagen phase is when hair growth stops. The telogen phase is when the hair falls out and is replaced by new hair. This form of shedding is normal process and is usually what is causing my client’s concern. Some breeds that have thick protective coats such as Huskies, or Saint Bernard’s undergo a process where all the hair from the undercoat falls out at once. This is known as “The Shed” and generally happens 2 times per year.
Before dogs became pets, shedding was restricted to spring and fall. Today with domesticated dogs that live mainly indoors, they usually shed moderately all year, especially living in South Florida, where there are no major seasonal climate changes. Dogs may shed more heavily if they have allergies, poor nutrition, and or stress.
Unless you have a hairless breed dog, “non-shedding breeds” do not exist. Even hairless breeds shed mildly. Some breeds shed very little hair. The following is a list that includes some breeds of dogs that tend not to shed as much:
As a small animal veterinarian, I see hair loss and skin disease which needs be addressed and treated all the time. I always advise my clients to have their pets evaluated by a veterinarian when they are seeing the following:
Here are several recommended ways to help reduce the amount of hair and mess:
I hope this article provides some much needed tips on how to reduce shedding and the mess in your home. Although frustrating, seasonal shedding is a normal and healthy process for our pets. We always want the best for them and to ensure their health and well-being. The tradeoff for all the extra mess is the love and dedication these guys give back to us. A little hair is worth the extra love! If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian. They are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
My name is Dr. Alison Birken Streit and I am a small animal veterinarian, wife, mother of three, and a sister to my three siblings. Over the past six years, I have dedicated my life to building and operating an animal hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, accomplishing a lifelong goal of mine. In addition, along with my sisters (Katie, a pediatrician and Carrie, a fashion stylist), I am a co-founder of Forever Freckled, a website dedicated to helping people with pets, children, and everyday lifestyle. It has been an incredible journey turning my passion for animals into a career and nothing brings me more joy than to help pets and their parents with wellness and healthy living. For wellness and health tips for pets, and other lifestyle advice, please follow our journey on www.foreverfreckled.com.
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