If your dog suddenly is shedding enough to make you a fur coat, you probably want to find out why. All dogs shed to a certain degree, but if your dog is losing more hair than normal, it’s time to investigate the cause. Excessive shedding can happen for a number of reasons, and a change in diet is one of the first things to review.
Foods That Can Increase Shedding
If you’ve brought home a new food for your dog, check out the ingredient list and compare it to what your dog was eating before. Foods containing corn, wheat, hulls or non-specific meat proteins are difficult for many dogs to digest and offer no nutritional value. An unbalanced diet creates nutritional deficiencies that affect your dog’s overall health. Dry, flaky, irritated skin, excessive shedding and dry, frail fur are key signs that your dog is missing necessary nutrients.
A new food may also contain an ingredient that causes an allergic reaction in your dog. Dogs can be allergic to many types of food with the most common being grains such as corn and wheat. They can also be allergic to certain meats, vegetables, nuts or other supplements. Look at everything your dog is eating, including treats, chews and people food. You can conduct a food trial with your dog by giving him limited ingredient foods and treats for several weeks, or you can have allergy testing done by your veterinarian.
Low Omega Fatty Acids
Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids contribute to healthy skin and fur. Without them, your dog’s skin becomes dry and flaky and his fur will become brittle and sparse. Higher quality dog foods typically contain a sufficient amount omega-3 and -6 fatty acids for your dog, however, their effectiveness can be reduced by the high temperatures used to make dry dog food and long storage times in warehouses. Adding salmon, mackerel, or sardine oil or flaxseed oil to your dog’s food can help boost his omega fatty acid intake.
Other Causes for Excessive Shedding
As with any noticeable change in your dog, a visit to the vet is in order to rule out underlying health problems. According to the ASPCA, excessive shedding can result from cancer, Cushing’s and other diseases, bacterial or fungal infections, parasites and sunburn. He may have an environmental allergy or be coming in contact with an irritant. Some medications can cause shedding, says the ASPCA, as can pregnancy, lactation and stress, trauma or anxiety. Excessive bathing or use of human shampoos also can contribute to poor skin health and increased shedding, according to Pet Wave.
Jodi L. Hartley has been a writer and public relations professional since 1992. Her experience includes public relations and marketing for a pet service/retail business, as well as volunteer work with animal rescue organizations. Hartley holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and an M.B.A.