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Truth about dog hair loss: what’s normal and when to worry

Dog losing lots of hair

It’s quite normal for dogs to shed, especially during the two annual molts in spring and fall. However, if your furry friend suddenly starts to lose a lot of hair, take note. Indeed, fur that falls out in clumps or widespread hair loss can hint at a deeper issue. Let’s uncover when hair loss in dogs is normal and what it might be hiding.

Why does a dog lose its fur?

Dogs molt twice a year – in the spring and fall – to adjust to seasonal changes in their environment. So, come spring, they shed fur suited for cold weather (a severe molt), while in the fall, they drop summer fur (a lighter molt). In fact, you can observe in dogs with long or medium-length hair, a thicker and longer coat during winter months. 💡 Molt isn’t uniform across the body to ensure protection, and it’s the tail hair that renews the least often.

How to limit hair loss in a dog?

Unfortunately for our homes, dog hair loss is inevitable. However, we can limit it by maintaining our pet’s coat.

Regular brushing:

Dog brushRegular brushing is essential. Indeed, it helps to remove dead hair and prevent matting, and it stimulates blood circulation. This way, hair regrowth is optimal. Brush your dog in the direction of the hair to untangle it, and then against it to add volume.

💡 Give your dog a bath during the molt to speed it up.


Your dog’s kibble should be of high quality.

  • Rich in vitamin A (essential for skin health), as well as vitamin B2 and B6 which contribute to good hair texture and regrowth.
  • Enriched with omega 3 and 6, as they prevent excessive hair loss and add shine and luster.

💡 Kibble based on fish is excellent!

Dietary supplements:

  • Influence of diet on dog hair lossBrewer’s yeast is recommended because it contains vitamin B which strengthens the hair.
  • Salmon oil is essential for reducing hair loss in dogs. Indeed, it is rich in fatty acids and omega 3. Plus, it improves their appearance. You can see the first results within a week.

💡 Start by giving the oil in small doses to see if your dog’s digestive system can handle it. A tablespoon for every 22 pounds (10 kilograms) of weight is recommended.

What diseases cause excessive hair loss?

Some diseases lead to general hair loss or in certain areas, with or without itching. Don’t hesitate to consult your vet if your dog suddenly and excessively starts losing hair.

Hair loss without itching:

  • Ringworm results from the growth of a fungus that feeds on hair keratin. The areas that lose hair are the head, back, and thighs. This disease is contagious and can spread to humans (zoonosis).
  • Demodectic mange comes from a mite that infests the hair follicle. Dogs with weakened immune systems are the most vulnerable. Hair falls out around the muzzle, eyes, and mouth.
  • Hormonal diseases (hypothyroidism, diabetes…) lead to recurrent hair loss on the flanks and back. The areas suffering from hair loss are symmetrical.

Hair loss with intense itching:

  • Itch dog hair loss diseaseScabies, caused by a mite located in the ears, on the flanks, elbows, and thighs.
  • Cheyletiellosis causes dandruff and hair loss because of a mite that lives on the skin surface.
  • Flea allergy dermatitis results in hair loss on the back near the tail.

Smart tip

If you’d prefer a dog that sheds less hair, choose a breed whose hair keeps growing (requires grooming), like the Poodle, Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso, or Yorkie for instance. And avoid short-haired dogs like Labrador, Jack Russell, Beagle, or Dalmatian whose hair is always falling out. Of course, they all make fantastic companions!

Images: CC BY 2.0: Erik Drost; dreamstime: smrm, Tatyana Chekrygina; Pixabay: Katrina S.

Written by Lydie Dronet | With over 20 years in the field of animal care, Lydie shares her paws-on expertise and experience. Other topics she loves delving into are nutrition and the medicinal uses of plants.
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