Dog owners know the feeling when that first "tumble weed" rolls by, you're in for the fur apocalypse. Sure, we all know dogs have fur, and that fur has to go somewhere, but why does shedding make it seem like you're living with an entire wolf pack instead of just one dog?
Most owners know that double-coated breeds tend to blow their coat seasonally. Usually twice to three times a year. Winter tundra dogs, such as a Siberian Husky, Samoyed, or Akita, come full-fluffed and ready to withstand Northern climates. But double-coated breeds also range from Labradors to Scottish Terriers. Each breed has a unique coat for a purpose, and a seasonal blow of the coat means a turnover of the fine, fluffy hairs that are closest to the skin. This is called the undercoat, this is the fur that sheds. It helps insulate the dog, keeping them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The topcoat consists of tougher hair which does not shed, and protects them from the sun's rays and bug bites.
Ok So I Understand That, But Why So Much Of It?
Since shedding is seasonal, pets who spend more time outdoors will have their shedding schedule in-sync with the weather. If your dog spends more time indoors, the warmth of the house can actually cause them to shed more. And yes, that can mean year-round!
Excessive shedding can also be caused by diet, and other nutritional or environmental factors. Stress is another big culprit, for instance if a dog is newly adopted it might mean they need an adjustment period to settle in to their new home.
What Can I Do To Minimize Shedding?
If you already know your dog sheds seasonally, you are a step ahead! Although, it's also important to be aware if your dog's coat cycle is thrown off. Massachusetts was hit hard by the winter of 2015, which also meant delayed shedding. It might take another year for coats to get their rhythm back on track. But if you see the signs of an impending fur-storm, make sure to...
*Brush, brush, brush! You should have a grooming routine, especially when the coat starts blowing. Either several times a week, or even daily. The type of brush will depend on the type of fur.
*Bathing regularly can help loosen the undercoat during shedding season. At the end of a coat blow it will help to stimulate the skin and push out the final hairs.
*Manage where your dog spends their time in the house. Fur everywhere is a hassle, so keeping pets off the furniture or not allowing them in certain rooms will make cleaning more efficient.
*DO NOT SHAVE A DOUBLE-COATED BREED. Many think shaving will eliminate the problem, which is wrong. Double-Coated breeds should never be shaved unless it is due to matting or medical reasons. Dogs need their undercoat to stay warm or cool and to protect their skin. A shaved undercoat will take a long time to grow back completely, if at all. Shaving does not guarantee less shedding, and can damage a dog's natural coat significantly.
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