Why do dogs moult?
A dog's coat consists of several different types of hairs. These consist of a primary, or guard hair which makes up the dog's coarser outer coat, and several secondary hairs which make up the softer undercoat. The outer coat protects the dog from the elements, whilst the undercoat helps to keep them warm in colder conditions.
In the wild, moulting helps dogs to ensure their coat is in phase with the seasonal conditions. Many dogs shed their undercoat each spring to help them cope with the warmer summer temperatures, and regrow it again as colder weather comes in.
At any one time, each individual hair will be in one of three phases of growth. In the active phase of growth (known as Anagen), the hair grows continuously, with new cells being added to the base of the hair. In the resting phase (Catagen), the hair stops growing and may become detached from the hair follicle. In this phase, hairs will often come out with brushing or if your dog rubs against your leg or sofa! In the final phase (Telogen) the hair falls out to make way for a new phase of growth.
In dogs, different hair follicles are in different phases. Shedding, length of hair and presence or absence of an undercoat depend upon the timing of these cycles and the ratio of hair follicles in the various stages. Differences between summer and winter coat occur because during the summer a greater number of follicles remain inactive, whereas in the winter more follicles are actively growing undercoat to keep the dog warm.
Has there been a shift in the way they moult due to modern lifestyles?
In the wild, our dog’s moulting pattern would naturally be determined by the seasons. The combination of temperature and day length provide the triggers that ‘tell’ the dog what season it is and determine what coat it needs.
But our modern brightly lit, centrally heated houses are essentially telling our moulting dogs its summertime, and as a result can be giving them signals to throw their coats. If they go outside, they get signals that its cold and need to grow a new coat, then come inside and lose it again!
And if they’re taking the chance to warm up by the fire, they’ll be giving their skin a good bake for good measure, drying it out, making it harder to hang on to those ‘resting’ hairs and making it even more likely that they’ll end up on your carpet or sofa.
These patterns of continual moulting and shedding of hairs are also affected by other key factors such as hormonal balances and nutrition. Hormones affect the growth phase of the hair follicles, which is why bitches in heat or pregnant bitches will often throw their coat.
Nutrition also plays a major part, particularly the levels of oils such as Omega 3 and 6 in the skin, as these help to keep it moist, supple and healthy. Individual hairs in your dog’s coat grow from hair follicles in the skin. The hair follicle and the hair it produces are part of the outer layer of the skin. Hairs don't grow "through" the skin. They grow from skin and in a very real sense they're part of the skin itself. So the condition of the skin and nutrition it receives strongly affects moulting patterns.
Other health problems, like allergies can also play a part, triggering extra hair loss or other dog health problems. If you suspect your dog has an allergy, or they suddenly start excessively moulting unexpectedly, it is worth contacting a vet to get them checked. Moulting is a natural event for your dog and normally nothing to be concerned about, apart from the mess it causes! However, if your moulting dog is suffering excessive hair loss to the point of baldness, it is worth consulting your vet.
Is continual shedding normal?
Shedding patterns naturally vary from dog to dog. But for the majority of breeds common to our climate, continuous shedding is not a normal state, but it is common. According to the National Dog Moulting Survey, over 50% of dogs moult all the year round. It’s worth pointing out that this generally isn’t a problem for the dog and their health, but it’s definitely a pain for the owner!
How can this problem be addressed?
If you have no desire to sit in the dark, shivering your way through winter in order to help your dog’s skin and coat, what can you do to help your dog through winter? Unless you are going to keep your dogs outside, there is very little you can do about the temperature and light signals they are getting from your house. But you can help them cope with these changes in temperature by ensuring they keep their skin and coat in good condition.
Hair requires a constant supply of nutrients to remain anchored in the skin. Nutrients that support healthy hair are the same as those that support healthy skin: vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. Hair that doesn’t receive a balanced supply of nutrients becomes dull, loosens, and falls out, so it’s important to feed your dog a high quality diet.
- Omega 6 oil, LA, is the key component of the skin’s moisture barrier and helps to stop the skin from drying out, enabling it to hold on to the hairs.
- Omega 6, GLA, helps to nourish and replenish the skin. By nourishing the skin, it ensures the skin stays healthy and maintains active coat growth rather slipping into a resting phase and losing the hair.
- Omega 3, ALA, helps to keep the coat in good condition. These oils help to coat the outer coat hairs, providing waterproofing and protection from the outside elements.
Yumega provides the correct ratios of these key Omega 3 and 6 oils to ensure your dog’s skin and coat are properly nourished. By simply adding to your dog’s food, Yumega reduces moulting and promotes active hair growth, keeping your dog’s coat strong and healthy.
Yumega is naturally produced using golden flax and starflower oils, which are cold pressed with only the top 20% used – just like the finest extra virgin olive oil. In fact, Yumega’s quality selection is so stringent that even some human grade oils are rejected.
Regular grooming will also help dog moulting as it removes the dead hairs, prevents a build-up of dead skin & bacteria, and stimulates the skin. But try to avoid over bathing them. Bathing dries out the skin, which will affect the skin’s ability to hang on to the coat.
And ensure that your dog’s parasite control is up to date as this can also affect hair growth. Parasitic fleas, lice, and mites cause hair loss because they cause itching. The pet scratches or bites vigorously and the hair is chewed or broken off. Whilst worms may affect the supply of nutrients to the skin and hair follicles, affecting the hair growth itself.