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Ask the Vet: Shedding

Original post made by Dr. Kristel Weaver , San Ramon, on Oct 7, 2013

==I My dogs shed excessively. When I leave the house I have to use the lint roller on my clothes, the house has to be vacuumed twice a week and when we go on vacation we find hair in our suitcase even though the dogs never go near them! ==

Like many dog owners, I get tired of living with so much dog hair. Here are some of the frequent questions clients ask me about shedding:

==BI Why does my dog shed so much?==
Shedding varies depending on the breed of dog. Breeds with short hair shed more than breeds with long hair. Dogs that are primarily outside will shed their coat as the seasons change, where as dogs that are primarily inside will shed a little bit year round.

Hair length is determined by how long the hair follicle spends in the anagen or growth phase. Dogs with short hair have a short growth phase (months) whereas dogs with long hair may have hair follicles in the anagen phase for years. Hair also goes through catagen, which is a transitional phase and telogen, which is a resting phase when the hair falls out. Then the cycles starts over again for that hair follicle.

The seasonality of shedding is based on hours of daylight, controlled by the hormone melatonin. Usually the biggest shed is when the days increase in length, in the springtime. Indoor dogs are affected by artificial light and do not show the same seasonal shed, instead they shed a little bit all the time.

==BI What can I do to stop my dog from shedding so much?==
Unfortunately you cannot stop a dog with short hair from shedding. You can minimize the shedding by feeding a high quality diet, using flea preventative to minimize scratching and treating skin problems. If you brush your dog regularly you may find less hair around the house.

==BI What breeds are considered hypoallergenic or low shedding?==
Breeds that have continuously growing hair shed less. These dogs are sometimes called hypoallergenic, however a better name for this group is low shedding since all dogs have dander and can be a source of allergies. Breeds that are considered low shedding are the Bedlington Terrier, Bichon Frise, Chinese Crested Terrier, Coton de Tulear, Havanese, Maltese, Poodle, Portuguese Water Dog, Schnauzer, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier and Yorkshire Terrier. Poodle mixes are very popular, however there is still some variability in how much they shed, even within a litter.

Keep in mind a dog with continuously growing hair needs to be brushed regularly and take frequent trips to the groomer.

==I Dr. Kristel Weaver is a graduate of the Veterinary School at the University of California, Davis where she received both a DVM and a Master's of Preventative Veterinary Medicine. She has been at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care in San Ramon since 2007. She currently lives in Oakland with her husband and their daughter, Hayley. If you have questions you would like Dr. Weaver to answer for future articles, please email info@webvets.com==

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