Downeast Dog News

My dog is Shedding!

By Judith K. Herman DVM, CVH | Aug 01, 2020

Q. I have never seen my dog shed like this before. Is he sick?

A. This year seems to be a banner year for shedding. Shedding is a normal process in a dog’s life. They tend to shed spring and fall. When the weather starts warming up, the undercoat, which keeps your dog warm in the winter, is shed. It is important for the dog to maintain a healthy coat. In the summer it acts as a barrier from the heat and sun, and in the winter it keeps him warm. Your dog will shed more during heat waves and weather changes from cold to hot. If the coat is matted or heavy with dirt, these functions are compromised.

All dogs shed. The degree they shed depends on genetics and the environment. Some dogs shed year-round, some seasonally, some you don’t even notice. There are several things you can do to manage this shedding process. First is to brush your dog. Daily brushing will get the loose fur out before it lands on your floor. Brushing will also reduce the risk of matting. Matted fur causes skin irritation, infections, and may be a sign of other health problems. Scheduling an exam with your veterinarian will help find the cause of this change. Also, matts don’t allow the coat to function properly resulting in the loss of natural cooling ability. Bathing will help reduce the amount of shedding. A healthy dog can be bathed monthly with a quality shampoo. Dogs with health problems may need to be bathed more often. Adding healthy oils in the diet may help with the amount of shedding. A quality fish oil, coconut oil, and hemp oil are a few healthy oils you can use. Many breeds need to be trimmed or clipped regularly to keep the coat healthy, such as poodles, schnauzers, doodles and others. Some dogs are shaved to keep them cooler and cut down on the shedding. This makes maintaining the coat easier but also removes the natural function of the coat.

The coat is the biggest part of grooming to maintain a healthy dog, but there is more. Toenails are a big issue. For some dogs, their lifestyle will keep their toenails short. For most, we need to trim toenails to maintain good balance and to avoid nail injury. No dog likes its nails trimmed, so training from a young age is best, yet that may not always be successful. If the dog doesn’t like the clippers, there is a dremel, which some dogs tolerate better and the risk of cutting the quick is reduced. Using a strong file may be another way to keep nails short. A product called a Beckky Board is awesome for those who fight nail trimming. This is a board with a sandpaper like surface. As the dog walks across it, its nails get filed down. When nails are not trimmed, the quicks grow long. These long nails are at risk of breaking or getting caught and tearing. You can help shorten the quick by trimming the nails a little at a time every week. If you can’t routinely trim your dogs nails, take him to a professional.

Some dogs have fur in their ears. If the ears are healthy and free of debris, the fur in the ears can remain. If your pup has waxy ears, ear fur matted, or an infection, the ear needs to be cleaned by a veterinarian and treated.

People forget to check their dog’s teeth. If you don’t have a chewer, you may need to clean your dog’s teeth. The easiest way to do it is to use a wet washcloth and wipe the outside of the teeth daily. This keeps tartar down and allows you to check the dog’s mouth health.

Keep your pup healthy and happy. Have a great summer.


Judith K. Herman DVM, CVH

Animal Wellness Center

Augusta, Maine