You didn't notice at first. It happened gradually. The trash bin contained higher and ever higher proportions of dog fur. Your poor Lucy, whose lustrous coat your neighbors once marveled over, now has so many hot-spots she wears a turtle-neck and sunglasses in public. Could it be her dog food?
Diet plays an instrumental part in well-being. We have become acutely conscious of this fact within our own lives, and it's natural that we extend this consideration to our canine family. Not all dog foods are equal -- some contain better quality ingredients. However, it's also true that no two dogs are exactly alike. What's great for the neighbor's Fido might not suit your Lucy. Before rushing to change her diet, it's best to weigh all the possibilities.
Remember Occam's razor: exclude the obvious before proceeding. Ensure that Lucy's shedding isn't the result of illness. Take her to the vet. Get a blood and fecal test. While you're there, provided you can afford it, get Lucy tested for non-food related allergens. After ruling out toxins or bacterial infection, ask yourself if something in her daily routine changed. Other possibilities worth considering are age, stress or lack of exercise. Taking these precautions will save you money in the long run and all that precious time spent sweeping.
Once you're certain it's the dog food that's turning your perfect parquet flooring into a groomer's recurring nightmare, consider putting Lucy on a hypoallergenic diet. Food allergy, though less common than canine atopy and flea dermatitis, ranks third as a possible cause of excessive itching and shedding. A food allergy requires real pet-parent dedication to detect, however, due to a broad spectrum of potential sources, including different kinds of meat, milk, eggs, grains and soy products, according to WebMD. Lucy's vet can help select a good, hypoallergenic diet, based on her medical history. This will basically consist of removing non-essential ingredients, like some of those listed above, and all of her usual treats, then one-by-one adding back ingredients, allowing at least a week for each to demonstrate its effects. Through this process of elimination, you'll eventually discover the culprit.
When you've hit upon the right diet, in general, you can tweak other facets of her consumption. For instance, try vitamin supplements under a vet's direction, as well as monitoring the balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that contribute to healthy skin and coats. A cooked egg once a week with the crushed shell -- provided that she's shown no adverse reaction to eggs -- should also make a healthy, tasty addition to her meals. Eggs provide protein and calcium, which build muscle, repair tissue and strengthen fur.
- Apple Tree House/Lifesize/Getty Images