May 9, 2019
Dogs coats are constantly changing throughout their life. The coat goes through several cycles that are pre-determined by genetics. It may also be affected by diet, environment and health.
The four main stages of coat growth are;
This is where your dogs coat is in an active growth cycle and constantly growing. This is predetermined genetically, and some breeds have short coats others have long straight coat or curly coats. Some continue to grow for up to a year others 3 weeks
This stage is when the coat is reaching its maximum length and stops actively growing
The telogen phase is when your dogs’ coatis when the coat is dormant. It has reached its full length and remains attached but is no longer growing but it remains in the follicle
This is when the hair reaches the end of its life cycle. This happens to every hair eventually. Once in the exogen stage the hair is shed from the follicle and the process of anagen starts again.
Shedding and Moulting or Exogen Phase
All Dogs Shed, that is fact just as the human hair dies and regrows so does dog hair. The reason some do not appear to drop coat everywhere is because the coat may at any time have hair growing in 4 different phases in all different lengths and the hair attaches to other hairs holding into the coat.
Under a microscope the hair reaching the end of its life cycle or Telogen Phase looks like a Christmas tree, with small branches or barbs along the length of the hair shaft. This split fine coat or barbs acts like Velcro and the hair attach to one another this hair may then start to matt, tangle or become compacted.
Exogen can be triggered by longer lighter days and warmer temperature and anagen may be triggered by cooler temperature. With many pets living indoors in temperature-controlled homes these phases may be a little out of sync with nature. This may be why your dog sheds less or more and may vary depending on where you live.
Preventing Matting and reducing Shedding
If your dog’s coat is left unattended, gets dirty or wet it will matt more easily When dog hair becomes wet for example the hair shrinks and tightens further as it dries. This will eventually lead to dreadlocks or compacted coat depending on your dog’s coat type. Most coats like hand stripped terrier coats or smooth coats such as Labradors even poodle coats, will repel dirt and water more easily when kept in optimum condition.
To prevent your dogs coat becoming matted or compacted and reduce shedding
- Brush or de shed your dogs coat regularly, a minimum of once a week and anytime before and after it becomes wet, through swimming, washing or running through muddy puddles.
- Keep your dogs coat clean and well-conditioned, this helps maintain the healthy hair shaft and smooth down those barbs
- Always rinse thoroughly as shampoo residue will cause dirt to stick to your dog’s coat more.
- Dry the coat and brush thoroughly using a comb to check for knots in longer coats “remove knots with a brush not a comb”
- If you have a longer or curly coated breed, keep your dog’s coat trimmed regularly to prevent those split hairs matting. Longer coated breeds need clipping a minimum of every 8 weeks if they are not brushed in between. Allowing a dog’s coat to become tightly matted to the skin is painful for your dog and the only thing that can be done is to shave it off extremely short.
- Maintain your dogs coat through winter months. Many people worry the dog will get cold and leave grooming aside until we are in the middle or end stages of winter. Ideally a bath and full brush out once a month from a professional groomer will prevent your dogs coat matting and there will be no need to shave short during the colder months
- Keep your dog on a healthy diet rich in omega oils, a glossy healthy coat will also shed less and repel dirt and water.
- Regular de shedding unclogs blocked hair follicles reducing itchy skin and conditions like seborrhoea which results in waxy greasy discharge and foul odours.
The advantages of regular maintenance of your dog’s coat are
- Less vet bills from itchy clogged follicles causing skin conditions that require antibiotics and anti-inflammatory’s
- Your dog will smell and feel better
- Your dog will be able to sleep inside without shedding hair or leaving doggy odours
- You might stop people who will admire your dog
- You will be more aware of changes in your dog’s health
- Your dog will enjoy the attention and love you even more – if that’s possible.