Shedding is a continuous process. No matter what breed of dog you have, or how well you take care of them, shedding is a normal event in the life of a dog. You can never totally eliminate it, and it is largely influenced by daylight. That's right…daylight! The shedding process is triggered by the number of hours that a dog is exposed to sunlight each day. This number is called a photoperiod.
You might have noticed that outdoor dogs shed quite a bit more than indoor dogs, or that your dog sheds more in the summer vs. the winter. This is related to the photoperiod. Indoor dogs tend to shed more consistently but in lesser amounts because of the artificial light inside the house. Dogs also tend to have heavier coats in the winter months than they do in the summer.
Photoperiod isn't the only thing that influences shedding, though. Stress and illness can cause excessive shedding. Loss of hair, frequently confused with shedding, is a symptom of many illnesses and a side effect of some medical treatments. A chronically ill dog that is shedding may also suffer skin lesions as well as scaling and thin or abnormally wrinkled skin.
What can you do about shedding? First be sure that you're dealing with shedding and not a more serious problem. If it is just normal shedding (and I hope it is!), here are some tips:
1. The first thing you can do to reduce the amount of hair in your home is to brush or comb your dog on a daily basis. This will help more than anything to reduce the amount of hair that you find on your clothing, furniture, and floors.
2. Feed your dog a good quality food. Don't skimp by feeding your dog the cheapest food you can find. A good-quality food will not only keep their fur healthy and soft and reduce shedding, but they will need to eat less to get the proper nutrition.
3. Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise. Healthy bodies promote a healthy coat.
4. Don't let your dog get fat. Chubby dogs might seem cute, but obese dogs have difficult grooming themselves. Keep your dog at a healthy weight for many reasons, not least of all to reduce shedding.
Dogs shed - it's a fact of life. Nothing will change that. But with these tips you can help reduce the amount of shedding and its impact on your home. Regular grooming will make the biggest difference by far.