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About Sudden Shedding in Dogs

Updated November 21, 2016

Sudden shedding in a dog can be the result of normal seasonal dropping of excessive hair and undercoats or a number of diseases and conditions that affect the coat. Seasonal shedding may occur quickly in climates that change rapidly from cold to hot. It is also common to see sudden hair loss in some pregnant females. A visit to your veterinarian can rule out problematic shedding.

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Why Dogs Shed

Dogs shed to remove damaged, aged and unnecessary hair and to make room for new hair growth. There are four stages of hair growth. The shedding phase is the exogen phase. Dogs that shed little remain in the middle stages, or hair resting stages, longer than breeds that shed constantly or seasonally.

Normal Shedding

Normal shedding is a relative term. It can be determined by the coat type and characteristics of your dog's breed or by what is typical for your individual dog. For some of breeds that tend to grow hair coats like the Yorkshire terrier, very little hair sheds at all. Single-coated short-haired breeds seem to shed the same amount all year round, while the double-coated breeds that need to shed their undercoat are much more dramatic about the seasonal and daily shedding process. In the double-coated breeds, sudden shedding is normal on a seasonal basis. Some breeds dramatically shed their puppy coats to make room for adult coats that tend to be hair of different qualities than their puppy coats.

Abnormal Shedding

Shedding, especially sudden shedding, should be considered abnormal if it is not typical for your individual or breed of dog. Over 59 conditions, illnesses and maladies can cause hair loss in dogs. Most common in regard to sudden shedding are parasitic infestation such as fleas or lice, allergies, Cushing's disease, diabetes, thyroid conditions, hormonal imbalances, fungal or bacterial infections of the skin and medications such as those given for chemotherapy.

Nutrition and Shedding

To promote a healthy quality to both skin and coat, feed the best dog food you can afford. Holistic or organic foods made without wheat, corn, soy or chemical preservatives are the best choices. Some formulas state that they have properties to promote or improve coat condition. When changing to a better quality or different food brand, do so slowly as to not gain a great coat at the expense of gastrointestinal upset.

Proper Coat Care

Dogs shed less if their coats are properly cared for. Brush your dog daily to keep loose hair at a minimum and bathe him once a month in a dog shampoo formulated for his type of coat. Use a hair dryer made for dogs, or a human blow dryer on a low heat setting, and blow dry your dog's hair against the grain of the way it usually grows. This will enable you to blow away any remaining loose hair. This process is quite beneficial during seasonal shedding.

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