All dogs shed to some extent, though certain changes to grooming habits and diet can help reduce the incidence of shedding significantly. Excessive shedding that has no obvious cause can be cause for concern, particularly if accompanied by changes in behavior, diet or activity levels. Patchy fur and significant hair loss should be evaluated by a vet.
Some dog breeds naturally require more significant levels of grooming than others. For example, long-haired dogs like Irish setters and cocker spaniels require more regular and deeper brushing than short-haired or smooth dogs like Doberman pinschers and Chihuahuas. Dogs with double layer coats, like Labrador retrievers, should be brushed using tools with an ability to reach fur under layers. Regular brushing eliminates loose hair and stimulates the skin's natural oil production to help keep fur healthy and reduce shedding.
Well-hydrated dogs who get enough water have a lower incidence of dehydrated skin, which can contribute to shedding. Additionally, a poor diet can also lead to less-than-healthy hair follicles, which again, increases the incidence of shedding. Talk to your vet about the most appropriate type of dog food for your breed and his coat’s needs. Your vet may also recommend essential oil supplements to help maintain good canine skin care and a healthy coat.
While in many cases, bathing your dog regularly will help reduce shedding, in some instances, overbathing your pooch can dry out his skin and make the shedding problem worse. Ask your vet to recommend a bathing schedule that’s suitable for your breed of dog. Some dogs, especially hunting dogs, have an oily protective undercoat, and overbathing can strip these natural oils from their skin.
Some health problems can result in overshedding, like allergies, parasites or skin ailments. These conditions require treatment by a veterinary medical professional. If your dog starts to shed excessively and you notice hair appears to be coming out in patches, see your vet right away.
Other Shedding Considerations
Brush or groom your dog outside or away from your living space to avoid getting shed fur scattered throughout your home. Change your clothes and take a shower after grooming or brushing your dog. If you can't regularly groom your pup, take him to a professional dog groomer on a regular basis to ensure his coat gets the attention it needs.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.