The Differences Between Hair Shedding & Hair Loss in Our Pets
As pet owners, we have to bear the responsibility of tackling those unwanted guests in our home. Yes, I’m talking about our pet’s shedding and hair loss. Moreover, it’s essential to understand that pet hair shedding and hair loss are both entirely different terms, and both have different causes, symptoms, and solutions.
However, pet shedding is an utterly natural process while hair loss is a result of external factors affecting our pet’s health. So, let’s start with a detailed overview of both of these terms, and we’ll explain everything step-by-step along with preventative measures for reducing excessive hair loss for your dog.
Hair Shedding: A Part of Hair Growth Life Cycle
Hair Shedding is a part of a process called hair growth life cycle. It’s a natural process consisting of five different phases as follows:
- 1Anagen Phase: Is the first stage of the natural hair growth life cycle, where new hairs are grown and is an active stage of growth.
- 2Catagen Phase: In this phase of hair growth life cycle, your pet’s hair will keep growing until they reach up to their maximum length; and, then it will stop actively growing.
- 3Telogen Phase: During this phase, hairs become dormant, and they’re attached to the follicle but don’t grow actively.
- 4Exogen Phase: This phase is also known as early Anagen phase because, during this phase, hairs will reach the end of the natural hair growth life cycle and will release its root from the follicle. Meaning, hairs will fall off and will give room for new hair growth.
- 5Anagen Phase (New): And then, new hairs start growing and the cycle starts all over again.
Therefore, it’s entirely natural for your pet to shed its hairs as long as they’re dropping them as a part of the above hair growth life cycle.
How to Reduce My Pet’s Hair Shedding?
As discussed above, if your pet is shedding its hair, don’t panic. It simply means your pet is replacing its coat. Moreover, it’s an entirely natural process that we have no control over.
However, to prevent the conversion of hair shedding into hair loss, there are few tips that I’d like to mention:
- Groom Your Pet: While your pet is replacing its coat, you’ll need to remove the dead hairs from your dog. Therefore, we recommend regular brushing or grooming so that any dead or weak hairs don’t get the opportunity to weaken newly grown hair.
- Bath Your Pet: To keep the skin of your pet healthy and protected, we advise you get your pet on a regular bath schedule for the shedding season.
- Ensure Your Pet is Getting the Right Nutrients: Omega 3 and Fatty acids are most effective nutrients when it comes to a healthy coat and shiny fur. So, include these nutrients in your pet’s diet. Feeding your pup these nutrients will ensure that your pet is developing a healthy and strong coat.
- Ensure Your Pets Environment is Clean: Always keep your dogs' living area clean. Disturbed or imbalanced hygiene could convert shedding into hair loss. Therefore, we recommend keeping the surfaces in your homes, such as the furniture and couches clean by removing any fallen hair.
So, now you know that anything that isn't part of the cycle should be considered as hair loss. Let's move on to discuss the essentials of hair loss in our pets.
Hair Loss: A Result of External Factors Affecting Our Pet’s Health
As discussed earlier, hair loss is a result of external factors such as parasites, hormonal imbalance, major disease, fungal or bacterial infections, and anxiety, and so on. So, let’s discuss each of these factors that could cause your pet to lose excessive hair.
Exposure to Parasite Prone Areas
We all love to go for a walk in the grassy park or rolling hills with our best bud. However, parasites such as fleas and ticks could be lurking in these open environments. What will happen if your pup meets up with one or more of these nasty parasites? Well, you might notice your pet itching just after returning from your walk. Excessive itching could weaken your canines hair and your pup might end up losing its hair.
Use an anti-parasite medication such as flea spray or an anti-parasite collar while having an outside visit with your pet. Also, keep an eye on your pet’s skin after visiting parasite prone places.
Here's a handy guide on Tick and Flea Prevention for Dogs to get you started.
A Neglected Internal Disease
Some of the major diseases are best tackled as early as possible. As diseases like cancer, thyroid, kidney problems, etc. could result in excessive shedding. When I asked our vet, how could cancer cause hair loss? Here’s what he replied, “Cancer is the most common disease in dogs, but there are multiple types of cancers, one of them is ‘paraneoplastic’ where whatever happens, it happens internally, and we can’t treat it. The result is damaged skin, which leads to hair loss.”
Keep an eye out for these symptoms of cancer, as most cancers can be cured if caught early enough. However, if your canine suffers the before mentioned disastrous cause, there is no solution as mentioned by our veterinarian. On the flip side, if your pet is suffering from a cancerous tumor or such, it can be operated on and removed by a surgeon. Note though, cancer really isn’t a curative thing.
Pregnancy & Lactation in Female Dogs
If your canine is pregnant or lactating, then she is most likely showing signs of excessive shedding if you are still feeding her normal food. According to this talk with a vet, during pregnancy female canines, will shed if they’re not getting the proper nutrients.
As said, if you want to stop or prevent excessive shedding, consider changing your dogs' food. Moreover, there’s a variety of pregnancy-specific foods available in the market today. However, we advise that you change your pups food gradually, as it could distribute your pet’s appetite.
Here’s a guide about nutritional dog food for optimal health that you can check out.
Neglected Skin Infections
Due to the many different types of dog coats and our inability to see through all that fur, we often neglect skin disease. There are several fungal and bacterial infections that need to be taken care of in the early phase of growth. If not addressed, it could spread rapidly all over the body of your pet and could result in excessive hair fallout.
Use healing agents such as coconut oil during grooming. Also, you could use an aloe vera gel or neem juice while giving your pet a bath. Moreover, regular coat and skin check-ups with your vet is a must for eliminating such infections in its earliest phase.
Anxiety in Pets
Have you ever heard of separation anxiety syndrome? Well, it’s one type of anxiety many of our pets face when being separated from us or left alone. Moreover, it’s one of the primary causes of our pets excessive hair loss.
Observe your pet’s behavior, if it’s a new family member, then give her some time to adjust and spend some time with your new pet. However, if your pet gets scared by a traumatic event (such as the 4th of July fireworks), try to get rid of the fear by sympathizing and reassuring your pup that everything will be okay. If all else fails, ask for help from a professional.
There you have it, the external factors and causes of excessive pet hair loss and hair shedding and how to deal with it. Moreover, we'd like to say that pet shedding is an entirely natural process, and you shouldn’t panic while your pet is replacing its coat. But, in case your pet is losing its hair due to any factors mentioned above, then it’s recommended to follow the suggested solutions or to visit your vet.
About the Author: Marcus is owner and founder of PetHairGuard. He lives in California with his two best buddies named Oreo & Dizzy. He loves to share his knowledge about tackling the issues of pet hair fall and helping people in keeping their homes clean. In his spare time, he loves to read and eat Italian food.