Why do dogs moult?

As pet parents, we know our dogs will leave lots of little reminders of their presence on us, and around our homes. But is dog moulting inevitable? What’s happening when our pets moult?

Hair today, gone tomorrow - all about dog moulting

As pet parents, we know our dogs will leave lots of little reminders of their presence on us, and around our homes. But is dog moulting inevitable? What’s happening when our pets moult? And is there anything you can do to save your sofa from disappearing under all that hair? Let’s take a closer look...

What do we mean by moulting? Dog moulting – or shedding to some people – is a natural part of life for our dogs’ cousins. As they live outside, a thicker winter coat is essential to survival in the colder months, while a lighter summer coat keeps them cool enough to forage and hunt even when temperatures rise.

Moulting season – is it real? In the wild, the combination of temperature and day-length provide the triggers that ‘tell’ wild animals what season it is and determine what coat it needs. Many animals shed their insulating undercoat each spring to help them cope with the warmer summer temperatures, and regrow it again as colder weather comes in.

Why is my cat or dog moulting all year round then? Things are a bit more complicated for our domesticated pets. In modern, brightly lit, centrally-heated houses, dogs receive signals to start moulting all year round! Then – when they go outside – they get signals that it’s cold and need to grow a new coat.

Fast forward to when your pet come back inside – it’s warm, it’s bright, and you guessed it, their bodies think it’s time to shed the extra fluff again! Unfortunately, evolution hasn’t caught up with modern living, and has created a cycle that’s exhausting for your dog’s coat… and your vacuum!

What else affects moulting patterns? Patterns of moulting are also affected by factors like hormonal balances and nutrition. Hormones can affect the growth phase of the hair follicles – that’s why females in heat and pregnant mums will sometimes ‘blow their coat’.

So let’s take a closer look at what’s going on in these different phases of hair growth...

How does hair grow?

At any one time, each individual hair will be in one of three phases of growth:

  1. In the active phase of growth (what’s called the ‘Anagen’ phase), the hair grows continuously.
  2. In the resting phase (‘Catagen’), the hair stops growing, and may become detached from the hair follicle. In this phase, hairs come out with brushing…or if your dog rubs against your leg or sofa!
  3. In the final phase (‘Telogen’), the hair falls out to make way for a new phase of growth. 

 

What’s ‘normal’ and what’s excessive dog moultingIt varies from dog to dog. Breed, age, gender, neutered or not… all these things affect moulting patterns. Stress, diet, hormones and nutrition affect coat quality too. And volume of shedding also varies from pet to pet.

Double-coated or single-coated? The biggest difference between ‘big shedders’ and breeds who tend to hang on to their hair is the kind of coat they’ve got.

A ‘double-coat’ is a coat made up of longer guard hairs (for waterproofing) with a soft, downy undercoat (to trap air and keep your pet warm and insulated). In the canine world, double-coated breeds include dogs of all types and sizes, from tiny Pomeranians and sprightly Shiba Inus, through to sheepdogs like Border Collies, stunning Samoyed and Malamutes, plus of course, some of the most popular breeds like Labradors and German Shepherds. These breeds – and their mixes – tend to shed a lot of hair.

However, almost all breeds and crossbreeds shed some hair all year round as their coat moves through the natural hair growth cycle. There are a handful of breeds that shed less hair – there’s info on the Kennel Club’s website here.

Make sure they’re getting the nutrition they need! Nutrition plays a major part in your pet’s skin and coat condition – particularly the levels of Omega 3 & 6 oils in the skin. In the right combination and quantity, these oils keep skin moist, supple and healthy. Why does it matter? Because the hair follicle – and the hair it produces – are both part of the skin.

Where does hair come from? Did you know that hairs don't grow ‘through’ the skin – they grow from the skin. So in a real sense, hair is actually part of the skin itself. This is why the condition of the skin (and nutrition it receives) strongly affects moulting patterns.

Supporting healthy skin and coat! Whether your pet is prone to moulting or you just want to help keep their coat in tip-top condition, you might consider supporting them with an Omega 3 & 6 supplement. Dogs need Omega 3 & 6 oils to maintain healthy skin and coat. And even if your dog is getting some of this nutrition in their diet, providing a supplement with a combination of the right oils helps to fully support their skin and coat condition. These natural oils help reduce moulting, improve dry and flaky skin and support healthy hair growth – our YuMEGA Dog offers the perfect balance.

What about bald patches? A heavy moult can sometimes lead to bald patches. However, supplements have a role to play here, too. Lecithin, Zinc, Vitamin C & E and Biotin work together to support skin health and rapid hair and nail growth, so if your dog’s coat is looking thin, it might be worth considering a supplement like YuMEGA Boost.

Can you minimise the moult?

Anecdotally, we’ve heard a few suggestions to minimise the moult, but we haven’t found sound science to back them up. But if you’re tearing your hair out with pet hair everywhere it might be worth a try!

  • Brush regularly – this doesn’t reduce moulting, but helps to promote healthy skin and coat, and contains the hair in one place!
  • Try special groomer tools for moulting pets – ‘sticky’ rubber combs can be handy (and many dogs love the massaging feel), and some people swear by the Furminator range.
  • Wrap them up warmly for walkies – some breeders recommend walking in coats in chillier months so they don’t grow in a heavy undercoat.
  • Consider a vacuum with a pet grooming attachment to tackle the fluff at source!
  • Try adding a Omega 3&6 supplement like YuMEGA Dog to their food daily.

If all else fails – and you’re expecting guests who’re prone to pet hair allergies – there’s always the temporary solution: the pet leotard. Catsuits for cats (and dogs) are now officially a thing! But whether your best friend will ever forgive you for the indignity is a whole different discussion…

What do you do about pet hair in your home? Do you have any top tips to share to flight the fluff? Let us know in the comments section below, or say hello on our Facebook page.

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