If you have a dog that goes through a big shedding process when the weather changes, you may be gearing up for that as I type. Many dogs have just one yearly shed in the spring – but I do know some breeds that do a shed in the fall as well, as their winter coat grows in. It can be a huge pain in the rear, and put your vacuum to the test. You can find some tips for dealing with shedding over here, but when does your dog’s shedding go from “normal” to “excessive”? One reason for excessive shedding is stress, but how do you know if your dog is that stressed out? And what can you do to help your dog calm down a little and stop leaving a trail all over the house?
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What Does a Dog Have to Be Stressed Out About, Anyway?
You may think that dogs don’t have a lot to be stressed out about. After all, they don’t pay bills, have debt, worry about politics, or do much besides eat, play, sleep, and bark at the mailman. But in fact, animals can feel stress, and it usually has to do with a change in their routine, or a lack of routine. Animals are creatures of habit because of the way they evolved to protect themselves. If their environment isn’t known to be safe – through routinely living in a way that proves that they are safe – then they live constantly on guard for danger. If anything about your home life has changed – a new job, a new baby, a partner leaving, a new dog, a remodel, or anything at all like that – your dog could be experiencing stress. Another issue that can make a dog stressed is the way you are feeling. Dogs have the ability to pick up on whatever you are feeling in many cases, especially if that emotion is very strong. If you are stressed, or sad, or angry, or having any sort of strong negative emotion, your dog could start to feel anxious. A lot of other things could cause stress in dogs, like vet visits, a recent sickness, and medical problems. The point here is that what we think of as “stress” – financial problems, relationship problems, and so on – aren’t the same as what a dog thinks of as stress. But their stress can be just as hard on their bodies as ours is on us, so it’s important to pay attention to your dog’s mental and emotional state.
Why Does Stress Make a Dog’s Hair Fall Out?
The reason that a dog’s hair falls out when they are stressed is that their hormone levels change when they are feeling stress. When the dog is stressed, a specific hormone gets released into the blood stream, which has many adverse reactions, including causing hair to fall out. This hormone is called epinephrine – otherwise known as adrenaline. Yes, the same feeling that you chase when you ride roller coasters is what causes your dog to shed due to stress. Another word for this stress-fueled shedding is “blowing their coat”. You’ll hear this a lot in the show circles, because dogs often “bloat their coat” right before a big show, due to the stress of the activity and their owners’ emotions bleeding through.
Is Stress the Problem With My Dog’s Shedding?
It is normal for a dog to shed some, and depending on their breed, it could be quite a lot. Huskies, for example, are known for leaving behind tons of hair all over the house and their owner year-round. So how do you know if your dog’s shedding is due to stress? Is it normal? Or is it a sign that something is seriously wrong? Here are some signs that your dog may be suffering from stress:
- If their fur isn’t only shedding, but also feels very dry and brittle to the touch.
- If their fur is shedding in patches or uneven spots, rather than all over their body.
- If their fur seems to be coming out in big clumps rather than in stray hairs.
- If their skin is also showing other signs of problems, like red spots, dry skin, and so on.
- If they don’t want to be touched, or seem very tender to the touch, when you pet them.
There are definitely other things that can cause hair loss, such as allergies, but stress is one of the biggest factors for an otherwise healthy dog. Signs of stress beyond excessive shedding include:
- Digestive issues, such as diarrhea, constipation, or vomiting
- Not wanting to eat
- Keeping to themselves a lot more
- Sleeping a lot more than is usual
- Being more aggressive than usual
In other words, any sort of behavior that is out of the ordinary could be a sign of stress. If you keep a close eye on your dog, you’ll likely see some of these signs before they start the shedding. Don’t brush off a few sleepy days as your dog being lazy – if it’s not common for them to sleep for hours every day, that’s a sign that you should take a closer look at their health.
How Can I Help My Dog Avoid Stress?[easyazon_image align=”right” cart=”n” cloak=”y” height=”158″ identifier=”B00QAVO29I” locale=”US” localize=”y” nw=”y” nf=”y” src=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51b0bwi1l0L.jpg” tag=”natur0da-20″ width=”250″]
You can’t exactly change your dog’s hormones from the outside, but you can definitely help your dog avoid stress. Stress is essentially a symptom of your dog not feeling healthy or safe in their environment. So there are two things you can do to help them avoid stress: keep them healthy, and make them feel safe. Believe it or not, this can actually reduce stress shedding, so that you don’t have to worry about major problems with hair falling out all over your home.
Here are some tips for helping your dog avoid stress so you can avoid the mess of shedding hair.
- Offer your dog a safe zone in your home. One thing that often stresses out dogs is lots of people showing up at your house – for a holiday party or a family dinner, for example. If you offer them a quiet place where they can retreat away from the noise and crowds, they can avoid this stress. Try a [easyazon_link identifier=”B00QAVO29I” locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”natur0da-20″ cart=”n” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”n”]crate[/easyazon_link] with their favorite blanket in it if your dog is crate trained. A corner with a blanket and some dog toys in a quiet room is another good idea. Be sure to check on them often and give them some love during these events, so they know that you are there. They will eventually learn that this spot is their safe place where they can go anytime they feel stressed, no matter what the cause may be.
- Training is a very important part of keeping your dog happy and healthy. Not only does it occupy their mind so they don’t get as much of a chance to be stressed, it also helps them build [easyazon_image align=”right” cart=”n” cloak=”y” height=”250″ identifier=”B003MWGS22″ locale=”US” localize=”y” nw=”y” nf=”y” src=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41JLSurovOL.jpg” tag=”natur0da-20″ width=”160″]confidence because they prove to themselves that they are capable of pleasing you and performing complex things. Additionally, focusing on following your commands will help them avoid focusing on whatever is causing them stress.
- Feed your dog a very high-quality diet. Allergens and a lack of nutrients can cause your dog’s body to release stress hormones. It’s important that the food you choose is designed for your dog’s stage of life, such as the [easyazon_link identifier=”B003MWGS22″ locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”natur0da-20″ cart=”n” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”n”]puppy stage[/easyazon_link], the adult stage, or the senior stage. Dogs need different levels of nutrients at each stage of their life. Be sure the food is also formulated for the size of the breed. Large breed dogs, especially in the puppy stage, need very specific nutrients to promote better joint health.
- Exercise your dog often. One way to help work out an excess of the adrenaline hormone that causes stress is to actually work out. Long walks, lot of wrestling and playing games, or even[easyazon_image align=”right” cart=”n” cloak=”y” height=”250″ identifier=”B01FN4GUV0″ locale=”US” localize=”y” nw=”y” nf=”y” src=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41DXSCAjEuL.jpg” tag=”natur0da-20″ width=”250″] canine sports are all good things for a stressed dog to take part in. They will be a lot better off if they have plenty of routine exercise to keep them healthy.
- Try using a [easyazon_link identifier=”B01FN4GUV0″ locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”natur0da-20″ cart=”n” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”n”]thunder jacket[/easyazon_link], which is a tightly-fitting wrap for dogs that helps them feel comforted during times of stress. They are useful for thunder storms, but also for when there is a crowd, when they have to be around strangers, or any time they are feeling stressed out. The idea is that the slight compression gives the dog the feeling of being snuggled up next to a litter mate or their mother, which can be very calming.
- Try desensitizing your dog to the situation that is stressing them out. Given time and patience, a dog can learn that certain situations are not as stressful as they think they are. If your dog gets stressed going to the vet, you can try just driving to the vet, and then turning around and going home. Do this until the drive is no longer stressful. Then try getting out of the car at the parking lot of the vet, and then going home. Later, add walking into the building and then going home. Finally, you can have your dog actually go to an appointment. If you take your time to work on this process slowly, your dog may become so used to the vet’s office that it’s no big deal.
- Use [easyazon_link identifier=”B000TMPPQS” locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”natur0da-20″ cart=”n” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”n”]Adrenal[/easyazon_link] to help your pet feel calmer. Some vets do prescribe relaxing medications, like Xanax, to help dogs calm down. However, there is an all-natural supplement you can try called Adrenal. This is a pheromone that is produced by mother dogs to relax their puppies, and using it with a dog can make them feel comforted.
If your dog’s stress persists beyond all your efforts, you may want to see the vet. There could be a medical reason for their stress that is making the issue persist, and you could need prescription[easyazon_image align=”right” cart=”n” cloak=”y” height=”250″ identifier=”B000TMPPQS” locale=”US” localize=”y” nw=”y” nf=”y” src=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41M4rhvEQnL.jpg” tag=”natur0da-20″ width=”250″] help to soothe your dog. Just like humans, it’s not good for dogs to remain in a state of stress. They can easily damage their health in other ways beyond excessive shedding. In fact, stress in dogs can cause issues such as:
- A weaker immune system
- High blood pressure
- Difficulty healing from wounds
- Chronic urinary issues
- Losing weight
These are just some of the ways that stress can impact your dog’s health. If you see excessive shedding, and you believe it to be caused by stress, this is an important issue that needs attention right away.
How Do I Manage the Shedding in the Meantime?[easyazon_image align=”right” cart=”n” cloak=”y” height=”250″ identifier=”B00XH7HK3I” locale=”US” localize=”y” nw=”y” nf=”y” src=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41z3SM1GrAL.jpg” tag=”natur0da-20″ width=”250″]
Daily brushing is the best way to manage excessive shedding while your dog calms down. As a bonus, the act of sitting and grooming your dog every day is a great way to help soothe them, so it’s a win-win. Use a [easyazon_link identifier=”B00XH7HK3I” locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”natur0da-20″ cart=”n” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”n”]slicker brush[/easyazon_link] or a glove brush to help remove dead hair and collect it, so you can dispose of it. Use this time to gently praise your dog, reassuring her that everything is okay, and try to keep an eye on the rest of her health during this time as well. Look for problems with her ears or skin that you may not have noticed in the midst of dealing with the shedding. Consider adding some healthy fat to her diet, like olive oil drizzled over her food, to strengthen her coat.
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Last update on 2020-02-16 at 09:17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The Final Word
Shedding is a normal part of being a dog owner, so it’s understandable why many people may not even realize there’s a problem with their dog. But if you do keep an eye on them, you’ll find that you can see the difference between normal shedding, and excessive hair loss. The latter is something to be concerned with, and does require additional care to help your dog be healthier and happier. Once you figure out how to de-stress your dog, consider looking for ways to make their schedule more routine, so you can avoid these issues in the future. And just make good friends with your vacuum in the meantime.
https://www.petcarerx.com/article/excessive-dog-shedding-when-you-should-worry/1449 https://www.rover.com/blog/stress-shedding-dogs/ https://wagwalking.com/behavior/why-do-dogs-shed-more-when-stressed