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If the dog loses its fur … what to do?

If the dog loses its fur … what to do?

Every year, starting from spring, there is molting, a physiological phenomenon whereby the dog loses its coat to renew with the “summer” coat. Here are the right tips to face this stress-free period, taking care of the animal’s skin.

It is the exact mechanism that happens for people with hair: they are born, they grow, and then at a certain point, they come off to make room for new ones. The same thing happens for the dog’s hair:

  • A couple of times a year.
  • The “molt.”
  • A completely natural process through which the animal loses its hair and renews its coat because of the cold or hot season.

In reality, the process takes place all year round, but in two seasons, it intensifies: in spring, when the dog sheds more hair than the new one (because it goes towards the summer season), and in autumn, when the reverse phenomenon. Beyond any scientific explanation, however, what remains is the exasperation of the owners who no longer know how to stem the hairs scattered in every corner of the house.

Light and temperature: two determining factors

The dog loses its hair due to a wholly physiological and natural phenomenon: the photoperiod, or the relationship between day and night, which influences animals’ lives. When the photoperiod gets longer, there is a spring molt. When it gets shorter, the autumn one.

Although annoying, this mechanism is essential to replace the old hair with the new and strong one, suitable for facing unique climatic conditions. Generally, in nature, the duration of the spring molt is about 6-7 weeks. Therefore, the dog loses its hair in abundance: it is normal, and there is no need to worry because it never remains naked.

The situation of the animal that lives at home and is not often exposed to natural light is different: the artificial one tends to “deceive” the dog’s brain, causing very slow molts with the result that your four-legged friend remains in molt practically all year round.  Frequent use of the coat or spending a lot of time near heat sources can also alter the regular periodicity of the suit.

The change of the coat is observed above all in some dogs (German Shepherd, Beagle, and Chihuahua, for example, and in the Nordic breeds): therefore, various factors affect the duration of the seasonal variation such as, precisely, the breed (i.e., the type of coat ), the environment where the dog usually lives (house or garden) and, above all, the state of health.

Gestures that can help the dog

Many people tend to worry (or become impatient) when they see their dog shedding large amounts. As mentioned, it is a natural and physiological phenomenon. However, it is advisable to control the dog and intensify the care, especially if it has sensitive skin. A poorly cared for dog feeling a solid itch (exceedingly where the tufts of dead hair abound) can scratch with such insistence to the point of irritating the skin to the end of causing dermatitis.

Therefore, it is essential to try to “facilitate” this phenomenon in a natural way and, at the same time, verify that the skin and coat are in good health. Here’s how to help him:

>  brush your dog often (even every day) to eliminate the “dead hair”  and redistribute the sebum, thus checking if it suffers from skin diseases. In this way, the possible presence of dermatitis or parasites such as fleas and ticks can also be verified. The type of brush chosen varies according to the length of the dog’s coat: those with bristles only ideal for short and smooth-haired breeds such as Terriers, Pugs, and Greyhounds, while carders (with metal bristles) are specific for medium or curly-haired breeds such as Cocker, Saint Bernard, Retrievers. Finally, for the species with long hair and thick undercoat (Collies, German Shepherds, Chow Chow, for example), combs are indicated;

>  in the most “stubborn” cases, i.e., in dogs suffering from significant hair loss, anti-fall grooming tools can be used before the arrival of spring (when the hair begins to fall out in large quantities) and then repeat the operation in the fall.

>  even a bath with a mild shampoo can be a cure-all  when you lose a lot of hair, without exaggerating how often (at most once a month): in this way, you can help relieve the feeling of discomfort;

> it  can be advantageous to give the dog supplements based on fatty acids  that strengthen the coat and keep it shiny even during the molting period when it tends to become opaque, as well as passing a cloth soaked in vinegar on the skin;

> it is preferable to have the dog often stay outdoors, when there are lovely days:  in the garden, on the terrace or in the park for pleasant walks, to follow the photoperiod naturally.

Nutrition during molting

There is no “standard” amount of hair that the dog can lose: some breeds show a more intense molt (such as German Shepherds), while in others (in Poodles, for example), it is almost invisible. Proper nutrition, in any case, is of great support in this phase. If the dog loses the hair, the loss in excessive quantities. 

First of all, it is good not to overdo it with cereals,  especially corn, which can be challenging to digest.

To be transformed into a routine, an excellent habit can be to add olive oil or, better still, linseed oil in the quantity of one teaspoon per 4.5 kg of dog’s weight. It is (especially the latter) a product rich in precious Omega-3 fatty acids, capable of relieving skin inflammations, reducing dandruff, and, in general, of great benefit for the dog’s coat. Some foods such as salmon, tuna, and other types of fish are also rich in fatty acids, or you can ask your vet whether to give dietary supplements (in capsules or powder) based on Omega-3.

Other foods beneficial to counteract excess hair loss in dogs include yeast in a loaf (one spread over three days) and fruits and vegetables such as bananas, apples, and cucumbers.  It may seem strange, yet offering fruit and vegetables of this type as small snacks represents valid support for the well-being of the coat as it keeps it hydrated thanks to the high amount of water contained in these foods.

What if it’s an allergy?

If a moderate loss of hair, which is accentuated in spring and autumn, is physiological,  when it becomes too abundant and is localized in some regions of the body (armpits, groin, neck), accompanied by itching, excessive licking, and the presence of redness, must alarm: the dog may suffer from a dermatological disease. If in doubt, a veterinary visit is always recommended.

If a food allergy or intolerance is diagnosed, the vet suggests some dietary changes to pinpoint exactly which food is causing problems for the dog.

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