Spring is in the air! As we make our way out of the dreary winter weather and into the change of seasons, many of us are anticipating a variety of changes. There’s the fun stuff, like warmer weather and a new set of outdoor activities, and then there’s the not-so-fun… like seasonal allergies and seasonal dog shedding.
As you prepare your dog for spring, you’ll also want to make sure you’re prepared for the extra skin and coat care he’ll need to keep him feeling as comfortable as possible all season long.
Why Do Dogs Shed?
Unless you have a hairless or hypoallergenic breed, it’s pretty much inevitable that shedding is going to be part of your furry friend’s life (and yours).
When your dog sheds, he’s removing old, damaged, or otherwise unwanted hair from his coat. The amount your dog sheds varies depending on a few different factors. Some breeds naturally shed more than others; some dogs have double coats, which may as well mean double the shedding.
Pay attention to how much your dog sheds on average, taking seasonal changes into consideration. If you have a good idea of how much your dog typically sheds, you’ll be able to better identify any abnormalities that could indicate health problems.
Reasons for Excessive Dog Shedding
While there are times when it could be normal for your dog to shed more than usual, it’s important to know the difference between seasonal shedding and shedding as a result of something more serious.
If you notice more shedding than usual during the spring and fall, you likely have a seasonal shedder on your hands.
Many dogs shed their undercoats when the temperatures change—either to lighten a heavy winter coat in preparation for summer or to switch to a heavier coat to prepare for winter.
Seasonal allergies (not to mention food allergies, environmental allergies, and flea allergies) in dogs can also contribute to your dog’s shedding.
If your dog’s excessive shedding doesn’t align with the change of seasons, it could be a sign of a more serious problem: nutritional deficiencies, pests and parasites, stress or anxiety, skin issues, or a number of health conditions, for example.
If you notice excessive shedding that results in bald patches or a visibly thin coat, especially when accompanied by other changes in appearance or behavior, contact your vet.
Keeping Your Dog’s Shedding Under Control
While you can’t stop your dog from shedding altogether, there are several ways to make it more manageable.
Regular brushing is an important aspect of your dog’s grooming routine, whether he’s excessively shedding or not. Brushing allows you to pick up loose or dead fur before it ends up all over your house; it also picks up dirt and debris that could otherwise irritate your pup’s skin. Plus, brushing helps to distribute the natural oil throughout the coat to keep it looking slick and shiny.
While brushing plays a significant role in cleaning your dog’s coat and can even extend the time between baths, that doesn’t mean your dog can skip his baths altogether.
Bathing your dog should be less frequent than brushing (think once per month compared to daily or weekly), using a high-quality shampoo designed for dogs. For dogs who need some extra TLC, consider opting for a shampoo made specifically to help with shedding.
Flea & Tick Defense
Many dogs are prone to fleas and ticks year-round—yes, even in the winter—but spring and summer are when those pests put in extra efforts to make their presence known.
The constant itching, scratching, and biting of the skin is bound to affect your dog’s skin and coat; you may notice shedding and bald spots as a result of fleas or ticks.
Stay on schedule with your dog’s flea and tick medications, in addition to conducting regular home health checks to inspect your dog’s skin and coat for abnormalities.
Healthy Diet & Hydration
Poor nutrition and dehydration can lead to a dull, thin coat and dry skin. Food and water provide the necessary nourishment to care for your dog’s skin and coat from the inside out.
From kibble to a raw diet, make sure your dog is eating a vet-approved diet that aligns with his needs and preferences (and drinking plenty of water).
In addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle, supplements can give your dog’s skin, coat, and overall health an extra boost.
Coconut oil, flaxseed oil, and fish oil can be used to hydrate the skin and strengthen the coat; the healthier the skin and coat, the less you’ll have to deal with unnecessary shedding.
PetHonesty’s Omega SkinHealth Chews are vet-recommended to soothe skin-related issues and promote a healthy coat, along with supporting a strong immune system.