Updated: Sep 8, 2020
All dogs shed hair. I hate to break it to you but there is absolutely no breed of dog that doesn't shed any hair. Shedding is also a natural process and there is no way to stop it completely, but there are ways to decrease or manage it. There are different types of fur coats and they simply shed hair in different ways. As a groomer, I know there are certain things you need to be looking into as to why your dog could be shedding so much. There are also different ways to help with shedding depending on the reason and the type of hair your dog has. If you are dealing with an obscene amount of hair and don't know what to do, I hope this post helps.
Why is my dog shedding so much?
There are different reasons why your dog could be shedding and if more than usual. If for any reason you suspect your dog is losing hair more frequently than normal, it may be time for a trip to the vet. If you notice your dog is losing hair and balding in certain spots, it could be a sign of a medical condition. If you notice your dog is losing a lot of hair, itching obsessively, has any type of weird odor, or their coat is just out of the ordinary, take them to the vet. Dogs can get different types of skin infections due to various reasons, and can also have many types of underlining health conditions that first show themselves through the skin. So, before you try anything for shedding that I mention below, make sure it isn't a medical condition first as your vet could find the reason.
Nutrition and Supplements
Many dogs can shed an abnormal amount of hair due to not eating an appropriate amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in their diet for their specific coat type. According to the AAFCO, (The Association of American Feed Control Officials), which is a voluntary group of federal agencies that help regulate the animal food industry, listing a minimum amount of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids is not required, although there are guidelines to reach a sufficient ratio maximum. This means that dog food companies that follow the AAFCO guidelines are not required to add a specific amount of these fatty acids into their adult maintenance diets. The guidelines only restrict the excess amount in the case that they are being used. According to Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University, "Current evidence suggests that for optimal health animals need a mixture of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, but the ideal amounts and ratio of the two is still unknown." This is why some pet foods vary in the amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in their food. Although, these fatty acids can be beneficial, too much of them can be harmful as well. Some foods include these fatty acids and some don't have much at all, it all depends. If you don't want to add an omega oil supplement, you can still purchase food with it added in. There are no separate regulations for animal and human supplements by the FDA, so any supplements you purchase should always be veterinarian approved.
"The big picture about dietary supplements is, while there are ones that hold promise, however, there are many more that have absolutely no effect or have potential harm.” Dr. Lisa M. Freeman, professor of clinical nutrition, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University
*One of my favorite omega-3 supplements is by Dechra. The liquid pump version is called Eicosaderm. From my personal experience, do not buy any liquid omega-3 supplement via the internet because you're just going to have a sticky, leaky mess in a box. If you want the liquid pump version of this supplement, ask your veterinarian about their opinion and to order it for you directly from the company, a prescription is not required. If your pet takes capsules easily, try ordering Eicosacaps. I personally like this supplement because it is proven to be tested and certified to be free from pesticides and below testing levels for PCBs and heavy metals. It is deodorized, purified and molecularly distilled, so there is no fishy odor and also made from sardines and anchovies, which is a sustainable source of fish oil.
If you are home preparing your dog's diet, or feeding them something else other than commercial dog food, there could also be good reason that it is not completely nutritionally balanced. Having your dog eat a diet that is deficient in specific vitamins and minerals that they need can cause hair loss as well. If you ever have any nutritional concerns for your pet, always consult your local veterinarian or feel free to contact your closest veterinary nutritionist.
Have you ever noticed your dog shed an insane amount of hair in the car, while out in public or while they are at the vet's office? Well, it could possibly be related to stress. When your dog is in a high stressful situation, just like us, adrenaline is released, and the brain tells your dog how to react. There is a voluntary nervous system, which controls things such as movement, and then the involuntary or autonomic nervous system, which shows when a dog is raising their hackles (when their hair sticks up on their back) or when they shed more than usual during stressful situations. Stress can be caused by numerous reasons for dogs such as not being exercised enough or by arthritis/pain/old age related issues. If your dog is showing signs of stress, talk with your veterinarian to see what can be done medically or reputable dog trainer for techniques that can help behaviorally.
If you have read through the other reasons I have listed above and don't believe it pertains to your pet, it might just mean your pet's coat needs better maintenance. The average dog sheds a majority of their coat twice a year, in spring and fall. Double coated breeds especially tend to gain a thicker coat for winter, and then loose it for the summer. Many dogs, including short haired breeds, will shed a significant amount all year round. As a groomer, this is where I specialize and can personally help you with your coat maintenance issues.
For all dogs, its best to keep them on a regular bathing schedule. I like to write it on the calendar or do it at the same times every month so I remember. At minimum, you should be bathing your dog once a month, although it is fine to bathe them more than once as long as you use a soap free shampoo which is less irritating. Over bathing can cause dry skin and even more shedding, so you don't want that either.
The De-Shedding Bathing Process
1. Brush your shedding pet thoroughly before bathing as it helps stimulate the hair follicles and you can exfoliate the hair that is shedding more efficiently. Depending on the type of coat your dog has, you need the appropriate brush. For short haired breeds, a KONG ZoomGroom Brush works wonders. For double coated breeds like the Husky, a FURminator Grooming Rake helps get rid of excess undercoat.
2. There are a certain number of shampoos you can use to help with shedding. One of the most popular shampoos that is wildly available online, in most pet stores, and the secret to what most groomers use in the salon is FURminator deShedding Ultra Premium Dog Shampoo. This shampoo works incredibly well when left to soak on the coat for 5-10 minutes and then rinsed thoroughly. If your pet has sensitive skin or you want to use a more natural alternative, I'd advise to use Earthbath Shed Control Shampoo. This shampoo works well too, is soap free, animal cruelty free, and smells delicious.
3. After bathing, the coat is now ready to be blow-dried and brushed again. Blow drying your dog's coat gives it that extra fluffy feeling that you only get from the grooming salon. Although, you can do it yourself if you get the Flying Pig Pro Grooming Dryer. I bathe and blow dry my animals outside because I don't like cleaning up all their hair in my bathroom. This might be over the top, but I also have a Booster Bath Elevated Tub. It definitely makes bath time a lot easier.
4. After another thorough brushing with the correct brush, you should be able to run your fingers through your pet's coat without any hair coming out. If your pet has a double coat or it is longer, you should be able to run a metal comb through it with ease. I use a finishing brush at the end to catch any loose hairs that didn't get picked up during the process. For thick, short haired breeds, I like to use a FURminator deShedding Tool, and for longer hair breeds its best to just use a Large Slicker Brush.
If you have any questions about grooming maintenance for your shedding pup and you want to bathe them at home, feel free to comment below! If this seems like too much work to do at home, find a reputable dog grooming salon or mobile groomer. Shedding seems to always be one of my most popular questions, so I hope this post is truly helpful.