As pet lovers, we know our dogs will leave lots of locks of little (hair based) reminders of their presence on us, and around our homes. However, is dog moulting inevitable? What’s going on when our pets moult? And is there anything you can do to save your sofa from disappearing under all that hair?
What do we mean by moulting?Dog moulting is a natural part of life for our dogs’ wilder cousins. As they live outside, a thicker winter coat is essential to survival in the colder months, while a lighter summer coat helps them stay cool enough to forage and hunt when temperatures rise.
Moulting season – when?In the wild, the combination of temperature and day-length provide the triggers that ‘tell’ wild animals what season it is and stimulate their bodies to begin creating the correct coat. 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 dog moulting all year round then?For our domesticated pets things get slightly complicated and confusing. In modern, brightly lit, centrally-heated houses, dogs receive signals to start moulting all year round! Then – when they go outside in the cooler months – they are getting signals that it’s cold and need to grow a new coat.
When your pet has finally decided to come back inside, the warmth and brightness encourages their bodies to 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 cycles?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:
What’s ‘normal’ and what’s unusual dog moulting?It 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.
Yet, almost all breeds and crossbreeds shed some hair all year round as their coat moves through the natural hair growth cycle.
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.
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.
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.
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!