Dog shedding: what’s normal and what’s not

There’s often one way of knowing exactly where your dog has been… The trail of hair left behind.

But how much is too much when it comes to shedding and hair loss? Is it normal for the breed or an underlying allergy? Are they missing an essential nutrient? Could a better diet help? Let’s find out.

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Reasons why your dog sheds hair.

Dogs shedding hair is a normal and natural process – how much and how often comes down to their breed, the time of year and their general health. Here’s a breakdown of why your dog might be shedding hair and when there might be cause for concern.

  1. Seasonal shedding. Dogs shed naturally in spring and sometimes fall when the weather is warming up or changing. You’re less likely to see an issue with shedding in winter as biologically their coat grows thicker for warmth. If your dog is shedding more than usual throughout and into winter, that could be cause for concern.

    Read about how you and your dog can make the most of the changing season

  2. Breed. Certain breeds are more prone to shedding, like German Shepherds, Huskies, Retrievers, Labradors, and Saint Bernards. These breeds generally have longer, silkier hair with double coats (a topcoat contains coarse guard hairs, and the undercoat is softer, whereas single-coated breeds don’t have an undercoat). It’s recommended these breeds are brushed regularly to stimulate the hair follicles, limiting the amount of loose hair that ends up on the floor to be vacuumed up.

    Dogs with shorter or more coarse coats tend to shed very little, like Bulldogs, Malteses, Poodles and Terriers. Even the ‘hypoallergenic’ dogs like Bichons and Schnauzers can shed a little – they just don’t have the dander (similar to dandruff) some people are allergic to. If your dog has a shorter coat and they’re shedding excessively, they may have a health issue that needs attention.

Signs your dog is shedding more than normal.

If you’re noticing more hair than usual in their bed (or on yours), bald patches, irritated and inflamed dry skin, or an increased amount of itching, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue. Their coat is just what’s visible on the surface, but it can help you to better understand your dog’s overall health.

There are two main reasons your dog could be shedding too much:

Is your dog allergic? An allergy can be the culprit behind inflamed, itchy skin, which gets your dog scratching at their hair more than usual. Your dog could be:

  • Having an allergic reaction to fleas or ticks, bacteria, fungus, or parasites like mites or mange.
  • Allergic to something in their environment, like pollen and dust, laundry detergents used on their bedding, shampoo, or even grass.
  • Suffering from a food allergy. If you think it could be something in your dog’s food, it’s best to work with your vet to create an elimination diet to do just that – zero in on the culprit by cutting back on potentially inflammatory ingredients, such as grains, potatoes, or meat proteins.

How to fix it: While you may be able to control any environmental factors making your dog uncomfortable, if you think your dog is suffering from an allergy or something out of the ordinary for them, consult with your vet to help determine the cause so that you can develop the best course of action.

Is their diet the best it could be? A poor-quality diet could be the reason behind your dog’s less-than-ideal coat, increased shedding or excessive itching. Without a diet rich in beneficial vitamins and minerals, your dog’s general health could be suffering.

There are also many unnecessary ingredients like artificial flavours, grains, starches, and sugars in many processed pet foods. These might not be sitting well with your pup’s digestive system as they tend to be highly processed and as a result, low on bio-available nutrients.

Another point to note is that not enough clean water can also dehydrate a dog’s skin, which can lead to skin issues and loss of hair.

How to fix it: As with us, your dog’s skin is a reflection of their inner health; if they aren’t getting enough essential vitamins and minerals, their coat is one way they’re communicating with you that something isn’t quite right. Put simply, a healthy dog has a healthy coat.

A high-quality, whole-prey diet can improve your dog’s inner health and reveal a soft, shiny coat that’s longing to be pet. A key ingredient proven to help is Omegas 3 fatty acids. It also helps with a whole host of good health benefits, from dental hygiene to joint issues.

How to reduce dog shedding infographic

Put simply, a healthy dog has a healthy coat.

All ZIWI Peak air-dried and canned foods include 3% New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels, which is a natural source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Compared to highly-processed fish or plant oils, New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels are a bio-available ingredient that can reduce shedding and keep your pet’s skin and coat soft and healthy.

To eliminate or even prevent some allergies, try ZIWI’s Mackerel & Lamb air-dried recipe. It contains triple the Omega 3 of our other air-dried recipes thanks to our whole, wild-caught blue mackerel – so your dog will be well on the way to achieving and maintaining a smooth and shiny coat and more balanced inner health!

Alternatively, a high-meat, single-protein diet can help satisfy their biological needs along with their skin or coat concerns. Try a novel protein recipe like the ZIWI Peak air-dried, free-range Venison to start with.

Please note:
If you don’t think your dog’s shedding is related to allergies or diet, consult your vet for an accurate diagnosis, as there are some less common explanations as to why their coat might be looking a little lackluster. These include pregnancy, stress, a vaccine reaction, pressure sores, hypothyroidism, or an illness like Cushing’s disease or Alopecia X disorder.


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