As you look around your house, you may despair at the sight of what looks like tumbleweeds drifting by. Shedding is a normal part of pet ownership, but if you’ve noticed a recent change in your pet’s natural hair loss, it’s right to explore it further.
Long Animal Hospital and Emergency Center
What Causes Shedding?
Dogs have about 15,000 hairs per square inch, and cats have 60,000 to 120,000 hairs per square inch. Normal hair growth happens in a mosaic pattern and hairs aren’t in the same stage of growth and shedding at the same time, so a normal dog or cat can shed large number of hairs without bald patches appearing.
Typical shedding occurs as a result of changes of season and temperature – most pets in North America will shed more in the spring and fall. Indoor pets who are in a constant temperature may shed all year round.
Another reason pets shed periodically is stress. Normal stress can occur when going to the veterinarian (ahem), riding in the car, or with a move or other change in routine. Prolonged stress is not normal, however, and should be evaluated as part of a behavioral exam.
When To Be Concerned
There are a few medical conditions that can cause excessive shedding. These include infectious disease, allergies, hormonal imbalances, immune mediated diseases or other problems. If you see any of these signs, your pet should come to see us:
- Alopecia (patches of missing hair)
- Skin redness
- Change in pet behavior or activity
Products to Decrease Shedding?
Several products are advertised as decreasing shedding. But do they work?
Brushes and shedding tools – these are often great for removing hair before it is naturally shed, decreasing the amount of hair on your furniture and clothing. These tools don’t decrease the amount your pet sheds overall.
Supplements and vitamins – these can be great for your pet, but since AFFCO rated pet food is balanced and complete nutrition, adding supplements doesn’t often produce a noticeable effect in the amount of shedding. Always check with your veterinarian before adding anything to your pet’s diet.
Shampoos and conditioners – while these products can be effective at moisturizing your pet’s skin and keeping fur soft and shiny, they don’t actually change shedding.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line with most pet shedding is that it’s normal and necessary for your pet to regulate his temperature. If you’re concerned with any changes or your pet’s skin or coat, definitely give us a call. Otherwise, investing in a good vacuum cleaner might be the answer!