Excessive shedding in dogs and cats is such a common thing that most people generally consider it normal for their pet to constantly shed and leave a trail of hair everywhere they go. In reality, excessive shedding is not normal and can lead to a number of problems if not treated. Fortunately, there are also simple solutions to treat and prevent excessive shedding.
First of all, let us see exactly what shedding is. Almost all dogs will shed some hair normally and naturally. Shedding is affected by, and may also be triggered by, weather changes, stress, and sometimes diet and care. Some breeds will tend to shed more than others.
Shedding caused by changes in the weather is considered normal and accounts for most shedding. Normally, most dog breeds will develop a thicker coat during the winter months, then shed that winter coat in the upcoming spring or summer months, just like many animals in the wild do. However, the shedding is excessive and unnatural if your dog is shedding year-round! Healthy coats should be tight and shiny, and fur should not fall out easily.
Now, why exactly is excessive shedding bad? In dogs, excessive shedding often leads to physically unpleasant results such as matted and tangled hair, visible hair loss such as bald spots, and a dull coat. Sometimes, if severe excessive shedding is left untreated, it can also lead to certain skin problems and disorders such as dry, itchy or flaky skin, smelly skin, dermatitis, and rashes.
Excessive shedding also causes problems for the dog owner. Owners of excessively shedding dogs often have their hands filled with messy hair every time they pet their dog, and their homes tend to be covered with a fine coat of dog hair year-round.
Most of the problems above encountered by dogs can also occur in cats. There is, however, one additional problem unique to cats with excessive shedding – hairballs.
If the cat has excessive amounts of hair to shed, it will want to lick the excess hair off. This hair then usually gets into the cat’s stomach or throat, resulting in a retching cat that coughs up smelly, sticky hairballs. So, how do you prevent or get rid of excessive shedding and hairballs, and the unpleasant problems that can result for both owner and pet?
First, one of the nicest things you can do for your cat or dog is to brush or comb its fur on a regular basis using a pet rake or slicker brush. This is helpful if you want to keep excess hair and matting from bothering you and your pet. A bonus advantage is that most pets also enjoy being brushed. Regular brushing , up to once-a-day, is good for the hair coat and will remove those hairs that would normally fall out.
It is certainly better and easier to have the hairs come out on the brush than around the house. If you bath your pet, do not use human shampoos because they can cause hypersensitivity reactions that include excessive shedding. Bathing too frequently can also dry out the hair coat and cause excessive shedding, so do not bath your pet too often.
Secondly, as mentioned earlier, diet is very important to the health of your pet’s skin and hair, and is a factor that can affect shedding.
Always make sure that you feed your pet a complete and balanced diet. Some companies provide special pet products that you can add to your pet’s food to help prevent excess shedding. Allen’s Shed-Stop and Lambert Kay Shed Relief are just two of these helpful products. Science Diet, Nutro, and Iams pet food companies also make foods to help the skin and coat of dogs and foods to help with hairballs and shedding in cats.
As you can see, proper nutrition and a bit of regular hair care can turn a constantly shedding coat into a tight, shiny coat that will not fill your hand with messy hair every time you pet your cat or dog. You will also have less mess and hair around your home, and you will have a happier and healthier pet!