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Why Do Cats and Dogs Shed?

Posted by Awesome Doggies

When we roll up in our mobile pet salon we are always greeted with enthusiasm, and often questions. San Diego pet parents usually have one question in common—“What is the deal with all this shedding?”

Unless you have a hairless breed of dog or cat, it will shed. How much it sheds depends on a lot of things, including its breed, diet, health, and whether it stays mostly indoors or out. Since the skin is considered the largest and heaviest organ of the body, you can learn a lot from the condition of the fur and the amount of shedding that occurs.

Hair Growth

Just like in humans, fur has different stages of growth. Once it reaches the length determined by its breed and genetic profile, it stops growing.

Hair growth goes through four phases which include:

  • Angagen- This is the first stage and consists of new hair growth. Low-shedding cats and dogs have a longer anagen phase and conversely, ones that tend to shed continuously have a shorter anagen phase.
  • Regressing Phase- In the Regression phase, the signals that trigger cell creation in the hair stop. The outer root sheath attaches to the hair follicle and the hair stops growing.
  • Rest Phase- in the rest stage, the hair is not growing or creating new cells. It is a brief period between stages.
  • Shedding Phase- the dreaded shedding stage starts when the follicles loosen and the hairs fall out.

Hair follicles are all at different stages of growth, so shedding does not occur all at once. If an unusual amount of shedding occurs, it may mean a change in diet or a change in your cat or dog’s health. An increase in shedding can also be caused by stress, skin irritations, excessive licking, sunburn, or by coming in contact with irritating or caustic substances in their environment.

dog-wondering-why-it-shedsHow to Minimize Shedding

While you can’t stop shedding, you can help minimize it. The first and most important thing you can do is talk to your vet about dietary changes that can help decrease shedding. (If you do not have a vet, see our San Diego mobile grooming service area list where you will find lots of great recommendations listed by neighborhood!) Sometimes simply adding olive or fish oil to the diet is enough to make significant improvement. Next, be sure to brush your dog or cat with a de-shedding tool every few days. Finally, have your dog or cat professionally groomed regularly. A professional pet groomer uses the shampoos, conditioners and other products that are specific to your dog’s breed and fur type. This keeps the skin healthy and conditioned, and prevents irritations that lead to excessive shedding. A professional groomer will also use many tools that will remove the excess fur and undercoat most effectively, so you have a head start as your pet’s fur goes through the different stages between grooming sessions.

Contact us to ask us you questions and to schedule your next mobile grooming appointment!

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