Article provided by VeterinaryPartner.com
As the days grow shorter and the nights grow colder, you may be observing what seems rather odd for a body preparing for winter: Your dog is shedding more than usual.
Be reassured: It’s perfectly normal.
Dogs typically lose their winter coats in the spring, when it is replaced by a shorter, lighter one for summer. In the fall, this cycle is reversed, as the summer coat is shed to make room for heavy protective fur for winter. The change is most obvious in “double-coated” breeds such as collies, shelties and keeshonden. Those breeds carry not only a harsh, protective long overcoat, but also a soft, insulating undercoat — and they lose masses of fur from both in spring and fall.
The amount of shedding varies widely from breed to breed. German shepherds, for example, are prolific year-round shedders, while poodles seem to lose little fur at all. Shorthaired breeds may shed as much as the longhairs, but since the hair they shed is easily overlooked, it may seem as if they are shedding less.
All shedders — even the heaviest — can be tamed by a regular and frequent schedule of combing and brushing. After all, the fur you catch on a comb won’t end up on a rug. Work against the grain and close to the skin to catch as much of the ready-to-fall fur as possible.
If you have a purebred, or a dog that has the characteristics of a purebred, ask a breeder for grooming advice, especially in regard to the proper kind of grooming equipment. The slicker brush that works fine on a poodle won’t make much headway in the thick mane of a full-coated collie at the height of a seasonal shed. For a shorthaired dog, a curry comb or hound glove will do the job well, catching the short fur before it ends up on your rug.
No matter what the breed, shedding — and heavy seasonal shedding — is normal, but some heavy shedding can be a sign of health problems. Skin allergies and skin parasites may trigger shedding, and poor nutrition can also be a cause of coat problems.
Become familiar with your pet’s normal pattern of shedding, and ask your veterinarian for advice if coat condition seems to dull or excessive hair loss is noticed.
Other fall pet-care tips:
Antifreeze. If you’re into do-it-yourself car care, consider using one of the new brands of antifreeze that are safer around pets and children. The other kind is so deadly that a cat walking through a puddle of it can die after cleaning fluid off a paw. Clean up any spills promptly and dispose of used fluids safely and properly.
Cold-weather cautions. Assess your pet’s condition, age, level of exercise and weight, and make adjustments for the cold. In general, inside pets need less food (to offset a decrease in activity), and outside pets need more (keeping warm requires energy, and food is the fuel). Cold weather is especially tough on older pets. For elderly animals, it’s not ridiculous to help out by putting a sweater on them when they go outside. Don’t forget shelter, and make sure your pet always has access to water that hasn’t been frozen. Outside or in, heated beds are a good idea, too, and there are many models to choose from in pet-supply catalogs, stores or Web sites.