A less nice side effect of keeping a dog in the house is the hair that suddenly flies everywhere. Your dog will change its coat twice a year. Once in spring and once in fall. Every dog is different in the intensity of the coat change, as well as in the timing and also in the things you can support him with. Here we have summarized everything that needs to be known about the change of coat in dogs and supporting measures.
Why is it Necessary for a Dog to Change its Coat?
The dog’s change of coat is comparable to the wardrobe change that each of us carries out once in spring and once in autumn. While we often walk around in t-shirts and shorts in summer, in winter we tend to choose a thick jumper, a jacket and warm trousers with winter shoes. Similarly, the dog tries to adapt to the changing temperatures. The coat change phase for dogs usually lasts 6 to 8 weeks. In the spring, the dog sheds its thick winter coat. An excess undercoat is shed and an airy top coat is kept. Similarly, in autumn the summer coat, which is now far too cold, is shed again and a new “winter coat” grows back.
A Case for the Vet?
The degree of shedding varies from animal to animal. While dogs with a very long or very coarse coat shed little, dogs with a lot of undercoats (such as the Australian Shepherd) shed a comparable amount of coat. Neutered dogs generally shed more fur than unneutered dogs. Seniors shed more fur than older dogs. And bitches often lose a lot of furs shortly before heat due to hormones.
However, if you don’t notice any changes in your dog compared to previous coat changes, you can actually assume that everything is fine. Is his coat shiny and is the hair loss relatively even? Very good. On the other hand, is the coat dull or oily, smells bad, or does it fall out at an atypical time? Then you should first think about the circumstances that could have led to this condition of the coat. Are you feeding your dog more or much less oil/fats all at once? Has your dog been under a lot of stress? This can also lead to sudden hair loss. If you can’t think of an explanation, you should have the unusual changes and hair loss clarified by the vet.
There can be many causes for a dull or oily coat, as well as unusual hair loss. If you discover bald spots that are red or inflamed, an allergy, for example, can be the trigger for the change. Parasites (both internal and external) can also lead to a changed complexion. These include, for example, mites or fleas, which your dog can get relatively easily outside, but also endoparasites such as Leishmania, which are transmitted by sandflies and are more common in the Mediterranean region. Skin fungi are also among the possible culprits. These can often be recognized by circular, reddened, furless spots.
In addition to all these reasons, metabolic disorders, such as kidney or thyroid diseases, can also be ruled out as possible reasons. The vet can help here. In most cases, however, the change of coat is a completely natural – if somewhat annoying – a process in the dog year.
The Coat of the Dog – Structure, and Types
Basically, the coat of most dogs consists of two types of coat: top coat and undercoat. Hair is primarily composed of the protein keratin. Depending on the coat type, the length and fullness of the hair can differ. This means that both the severity of the change of coat and the way in which the coat should be cared for during the change of coat differ. Here we present the most common coat types and their specialties:
Short hair with a little undercoat
The French bulldog or the Dalmatian, for example, have short, straight top coats with little undercoats. As the owner of such a dog, you are actually lucky – the top coat falls out all year round and is relatively inconspicuous. Here the weekly care of the skin and coat is sufficient. You can do this, for example, with a nubbed glove that massages the skin and stimulates blood circulation. The gentle massage removes dead hair and stimulates the skin to nourish the hair that is still alive.
Long hair with a little undercoat
Poodles and spaniels, for example, have long, silky top coats and little undercoats. Here the change of fur often takes place throughout the year, or the hair does not fall out at all. This coat needs intensive care, for example, regular brushing (2-3 times a week). A visit to the dog groomer is also definitely a good idea so that the long top coat does not become matted or (especially in the case of the poodle) too long.