Can Bathing Cause a Dog to Shed?

Fur always looks better on the dog than it does on the sofa. Images

If you think Barkley’s shedding can’t get any worse -- just give him a bath. What were originally scattered dog hairs here and there are now chunks of fur sticking to the suede recliner -- and to your pants. Shedding’s natural but bathing your dog can make it seem worse.

Shedding Cycles

Your adorable dog still exists under those clouds of fur he’s leaving behind. His fur grows in cycles, with an average growth cycle taking about four to six months. Some breeds differ, however, so talk to your vet about what’s normal for your pooch. When a new growth cycle begins, the old fur falls out and new fur takes its place. Cyclical shedding results in large quantities of falling fur until the new coat completely replaces the old. Between growth cycles, your dog still sheds, just not as profusely.

The Bathing Conundrum

Your natural instinct is to bathe your dog when the fur starts flying. Once he’s lathered, rinsed, dried and brushed, unfortunately, you might notice more shedding, not less. He’s not shedding new fur growth, but all the scrubbing and rubbing can accelerate the natural shedding process. In the long run, he’s going to lose that old fur anyway; you’ve just hastened the process.

Bathing Too Frequently

Unless your dog is dog is dirty, there’s usually no need to bathe him more than once every couple of months, or so. Bathing him more often, especially if his skin is sensitive, can lead to increased hair loss, in addition to flaky dandruff. This isn’t cyclical shedding; it’s the result of stripping the natural oils from your dog’s skin, which results in dryness and irregular hair loss.

Soothing Doggie Baths

When a bath is in the cards, opt for gentle shampoo intended for use on dogs. Don’t use people shampoo, which can leave his skin irritated, itchy and can promote unnatural hair loss. When you do bathe your dog, it’s essential that you rinse all shampoo residue from his coat. Just a little bit of leftover suds here and there can dry his skin and trigger hair loss.

Control Flyaway Fur

Unless you own a non-shedding curly-coat breed, like a poodle, the best way to beat the coat-blowing blues is with frequent brushing. For most dogs, a thorough weekly brushing between fur growth cycles will greatly reduce the hair left on clothing and upholstery. During a shedding cycle, daily brushing is often necessary.