Why Do Dogs Shed Their Coats?

As a pet parent who loves cleanliness as much as you do your doting dogs, lint rollers and extra vacuum cleaner bags are just part of the package. While breed type and certain other factors do influence the amount of shedding, all dogs shed their coats.


Hair Growth Cycles

With a seemingly endless supply of hair that makes its way onto your clothing, furniture and floors, it's hard to believe that your hairy little monster isn't constantly growing new hair. The truth is, though, that dog hair grows in cycles made up of three distinct phases: a growth phase, a transitional phase and a resting phase. The heaviest shedding occurs during the transitional phase as old hairs are released from their follicles to make room for the new ones. The natural hair growth cycle is heavily influenced by factors like seasonal changes, stress and health issues.

Seasonal Shedding

Most dogs shed their coats at least twice a year. In preparation for the hot summer months, dogs shed their heavy winter coats so that they can stay cool in the summer heat. In early fall, dogs will shed their summer coats to make room for the thick, heavy coat that will grow in to keep them warm during the winter months. The resting phase generally takes place in the middle of summer and the middle of winter when shedding is at a minimum.

Health-Related Shedding

The natural hair growth cycle helps keep dogs healthy by protecting them from the elements and replacing old, damaged hair with a newer and healthier coat. Sometimes, though, excessive stress and health problems can interfere with the hair growth cycle, leading to abnormal shedding. Shedding caused by stress or health issues is neither natural nor healthy for dogs. Allergies, skin infections, dietary deficiencies and systemic infections can all lead to abnormal shedding that calls for a visit to the vet.

Shedding Management

Whether you have a light shedder or more of a fur factory, adequate grooming can resolve most, if not all, of your frustrations over dog hair overload. Keep shedding to a minimum by making brushing your pooch's coat a part of your daily routine and feeding him a high quality diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Regular visits to the vet can help keep your furry friend and his coat healthy, which also reduces shedding. Since hormonal changes can also influence hair growth cycles, having your hairy little monster spayed or neutered can help reduce excess shedding.

By Kristina de la Cal


About the Author
Kristina de la Cal is a full-time teacher who has been freelance writing since 1991. She published her first book, "Breaking up without Breaking Down," in 2007 and specializes in a variety of topics including, but not limited to, relationships and issues in education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Florida International University.