Shedding in Dogs

This problem seems to vex a lot of pet owners.  The only dogs that do not shed are the hairless ones, the ones that matt (& thus require professional haircuts)…& dead ones.

There are several reasons dogs shed: genetics,  stress, exposure to sunlight, and not enough essential fatty acids in the diet.  Oh, and 1 more reason:  The dog not being brushed properly with the proper brush at proper intervals.

You know how your eyebrow & eyelash hairs grow only so long?  Then they fall out? that’s the shedding dog times bazillion.

Fight or flight?

There is also ‘flight’ shedding: where your dog, when he gets excited, explodes hair.  I’ve seen it happen. Dog is not shedding(in the kennel).  Owner comes to pick up dog, and he suddenly looks like PigPen (in the Peanuts cartoon),  Nothing you can do about that.  Without getting too scientific, it’s ‘God’s’ way of allowing a dog to get away from a predator, which would be, essentially, holding pawfuls of hair instead of the dog.

The correct tools for the job:

In a few words, you need a slicker brush. Now, it gets a bit more complicated, as there are many different kinds of slicker brushes with different gauges of wire, bent different ways.  You will have to experiment.  At least you can rule out a ‘Pin’ (or Wig) brush—as that kind of brush will not get out the shedding hair.  You will also have to experiment with the interval—but it won’t be EVERY DAY.
I don’t know where the idea came from that you should brush a dog every day. Possibly when they all lived outside & got into burrs & foxgloves.  The reason  to NOT brush your dog every day is that you won’t get the hair into a shedding cycle.  hair grows in stages:  growing in, grown in, & about to come out.  You will have more of the hair about to come out if you let it go for a few days. Is it 5 days?  7 days?  10 days?  You will have to experiment.  Then, besides the slicker brush, which may or may NOT get out a lot of hair, you will have to use deshedding tools:  Probably a rake of some kind, or a Furminator.  It depends on the dog.

Will Shampoo work?

Actually, it  may!   Why?   using warm water, the emollients in shampoo will loosen the hair follicles, and the hair  about to fall out will. Also, there is some anecdotal evidence that  shows that coconut oil in the shampoo will open the hair follicles even more, and get that about to come out hair out.  I have always brushed the shampoo through the hair, and that gets out a lot of hair.

What about shaving it all off?

Argh!!! To paraphrase H. L. Mencken: “For every problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and WRONG.”

First of all, it will make the shedding hair shorter ofor about a month, so the dog will shed shorter hairs. Second,  if your dog is double coated, you can cause clipper alopoecia,  where the guard hairs—the hairs that don’t shed, are damaged, and increase the undercoat, causing even more shedding—& the coat will NEVER grow back the way it was. Nobody is really sure why it happens, but it does. So, you actually make the shedding worse.

Does adding E.F.A.’s really work?

For many dogs–yes!  It  will only take about 1 teaspoon per about 20 pounds of dog, but my clients have reported less shedding when they’ve upgraded their dogs’ diets.  Many dogs have problems with corn. wheat and soy.  Just as an aside, the old ‘bland’ diet was  boiled beef & rice. These days, I suggest & either pumpkin or sweet potatoes.  You might also want to look into  the BARF (beef & raw foods) diet, but  you can’t switch back  and forth, so make sure you can make a commitment.  Ask your veterinarian about EFAs, fish, & pumpkin.

What if it is totally out of hand?

Become friendly with a professional groomer who doesn’t shave every dog that comes into her shop, and  talk about the options. I offer my clients  a ‘blow out’ without a bath. Takes 10–20 minutes with a ‘force’ dryer (this is actually a high velocity blower,do it about once a month,  though I suggest a bath that often as well, and you will be able to keep on top of it.

If shedding really bothers you…think….about when you get your next dog, what you want in a dog, and what you can’t tolerate.  This is why some breeds have become less popular:  people  had a fantasy idea of what the dog was, with no real knowledge, and the breeders did little to dissuade or educate them (by breeders, I also mean the unethical backyard breeders breeding dogs to make money…go to Craigslist any day fo the week & you can find them easily—thousands violate the posting rules every day).


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