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Reasons for Excessive Shedding in Dogs

Are you all of a sudden drowning in dog hair? If so, I feel your pain! It is common knowledge that most dogs shed hair. It is a normal daily and seasonal happening for most breeds. However, if there is excessive shedding in dogs or if shedding happens at a time of year when it is not supposed to, there could be something else going on. It is time to get to the vet.

Excessive shedding in dogs can be a sign of many different conditions. Some of them can be easy to treat and some of them may be life-threatening.

Reasons for Excessive Shedding in Dogs

The causes of excessive shedding in dogs all have a negative impact on the dog’s happiness and only the vet will know how to correct the problem.

Before we get to causes and concerns about excessive shedding in dogs, let’s talk about what regular or normal shedding is.

It is essential to be able to know the difference and when it could be cause for concern.

What is Normal Shedding for dogs?

Daily normal shedding of old dead hair or damaged hair is a natural process for cats and dogs.

This can be compared to how we humans shed hair.

It is important to determine the baseline shedding of your pet as soon as it is adopted.

This will help you to identify any changes in their shedding patterns that may indicate an underlying health issue.

The amount of shedding that is considered “normal” varies from breed to breed. It can also be affected by anatomy, physiology, and genetics.

Contrary to popular belief, longhaired pets do not necessarily shed more than pets with shorter coats.

As an example of this, I have both German Shepherds with thick coats AND a little 5 lb smooth-coated Chihuahua. It may be hard to believe but the Chihuahua sheds just as much as the shepherds!

Regular grooming sessions with a certified groomer can also help keep shedding under control.

It will also ensure that your pet remains healthy and comfortable.

What is Seasonal Shedding in Dogs?

If you are a new dog owner and this is your first time experiencing seasonal shedding, you may think, “Oh my goodness”! You may even think they will be hairless before it ends!

However, seasonal shedding is a normal process for many breeds of dogs.

During the spring and fall, most dogs will shed their winter coats and summer coats respectively.

This is due to changes in temperature and light exposure that signal the body to prepare for the upcoming season.

Seasonal shedding can be more intense than regular shedding. However, it should still be within the range of what is considered normal for your breed.

Continue with regular brushing to rid them of loose hair and soon they will be back to their shedding normally.

Slicker brush in a pile of dog hair.

Causes of Excessive Shedding in Dogs

Poor Nutrition

Poor nutrition, or a poor diet, is one of the most common causes of excessive shedding in dogs.

A lot of pet foods don’t contain all the essential nutrients required to maintain a healthy coat, such as minerals, vitamins, and fatty acids.

Excess shedding can be caused by too many high-carb foods, and low-quality or cheap pet food.

It can also be the result of the wrong food for the dog’s age and overfeeding or underfeeding.

These vital nutrients are necessary for a healthy coat.

Water also plays an important role in maintaining a healthy coat in dogs.

Dehydration can lead to hair loss in your furry friend. It is important to make sure they are drinking enough water throughout the day.

If you suspect that your dog’s diet is causing its shedding problem, consult with your veterinarian. He can help determine what changes to make to ensure your pup is getting all the necessary nutrients for a healthy coat.

Using the Wrong Shampoo

Are you using a doggie shampoo when you bathe your dog or do you reach for your own shampoo bottle? 

Human shampoo is too harsh for your pup’s skin. It can cause drying of the skin, itching, and excessive shedding.


If your pup can’t stop scratching and is shedding more than normal, there’s a strong chance that fleas or ticks are to blame.

Not only that, but these parasites can lead to more serious problems like anemia or infection if not treated.

Black and white Husky being brushed with a red brush.


Thyroid disease such as hypothyroidism is the result of a thyroid gland that does not produce enough hormones.

Most dogs that suffer from hypothyroidism will lose some hair.

Thyroid imbalances can be easily treated with synthetic thyroid medication such as Soloxine.

Skin Diseases

Dogs are susceptible to many skin diseases which can cause excessive shedding in dogs.

They can be caused by bacteria called Staphylococci, ringworm (which is a fungal infection), and allergies.

Allergies can be everything from flea saliva to dust and mold, parasites such as ear mites, lice, ticks, and hormonal imbalances.


Pyoderma is a bacterial infection of the skin and it could be a sign of another health condition.

Staphylococcus or E Coli is the bacteria that causes most issues.

The bacteria enter the skin that has been compromised by conditions such as parasites, allergies, hormonal disorders, an inadequate immune system, and trauma from grooming.

Virtually anything that causes skin sores that can allow the bacteria to enter.

Pyoderma will appear as a rash, not open sores.

In severe cases, the dog will be hospitalized for intravenous treatments.

In most cases, treatment involves antibiotics, special shampoos, and/or a change in diet.

Woman brushing a large white dog with a slicker brush.

Cushing’s Disease

Cushing’s Disease is also known as hyperadrenocorticism. This is when the adrenal gland produces too much of a hormone known as corticosteroids.

It can be caused by a tumor of one of two glands: the adrenal or the pituitary.

The vet will need to perform several tests in order to get a definite diagnosis of Cushing’s disease.

Adrenal tumors are removed with surgery.

Pituitary tumors need to be treated with medications such as Lysodren.

Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases of the skin include pemphigus complex, pemphigus vegetans, pemphigus foliaceous, pemphigus erythematosus, and Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada-like syndrome.

These are extremely rare but can be serious.

If the vet cannot pin down the cause of one of the more common conditions, he may recommend seeing a specialist.

Other autoimmune diseases such as autoimmune hemolytic anemia, immune-mediated thrombocytopenia, and systemic lupus erythematosus can also cause hair loss.

Autoimmune diseases are some of the most serious conditions that affect dogs.

Small brown dog being brushed with a slicker brush.

In Conclusion

As you can see, excessive shedding in dogs can be as simple as you are using the wrong shampoo to a larger health concern that warrants treatment. So, if you believe your dog is shedding too much, a vet visit is in order.

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