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Monday, 4 July 2011

Can you shed some light on shedding?

Dear Think Tank

I am writing to you to see if you can help me with my Cocker Spaniel's coat. She is lemon roan in colour and is two years old.

She has been moulting on and off for two years and we do brush her every day but still the hairs are everywhere.

I would be very grateful if you can help me.

Mrs Kalits, Denbighshire

Alison Logan, vet, advises...

If your cocker spaniel is two years old and has been shedding excessively for the past two years, then you have been coping with this for all the time that you have had her! Lemon roan is such a pretty coat colour, but does mean that the hairs are really obvious on dark furnishings and clothing. Conversely, the hair from my black Labradors and cat collects on my hard kitchen floor against the walls and on the paler carpets, as well as showing up on light clothing (so I am usually to be found wearing boring dark colours!).When I am consulting, it is the white rabbits which leave my navy work top covered in fur.

A pet constantly shedding is a common complaint in the consulting room. A common explanation goes as follows. In today’s modern society, we strive to keep our homes at a temperature so that we can take off our outer clothing, even in the coldest of winters. The result can be a house running at a similar temperature all year round, without seasonal variation. I have been on visits where, on a cold December day, the owners open the door to me wearing no more than a tee shirt and trousers. Pets living in such conditions cannot change their coat as they go from inside the house to outside and end up confused, so to speak.

Generally, dogs kept in a kennel outside will not moult all the time but follow a more accepted seasonal pattern. They put on a thicker coat for the winter which is then shed in the spring in favour of a lighter weight coat for the hopefully warmer weather of the summer.

Provided your dog is not going bald but is actively re-growing hair then this should be a natural state of affairs, which is not great news for your carpets but good for your dog from a health perspective.. It is important to ensure she is being fed a balanced diet. There are food supplements which will help boost the condition of her coat.

It goes without saying that grooming on a regular, daily basis will help catch loose hairs before they land on your carpets and clothes. Just like walking our dogs should be a pleasure, so I would try to look on your dog’s daily grooming session as a chance for spending quality time together, rather than a chore.


  1. Joanne Drysdale4 July 2011 at 05:23

    Is she in full coat or is she handstripped or clipped? Most dogs moult all year round due to central heating. They dont get the same bi-annual moulting pattern that kennel dogs have. Unfortunately dog hair is just part of having a hairy dog. I have 3 cockers and 2 hairy lurchers so I know how it feels!

    Regular grooming with a proper slicker brush or grooming mitt will help. The two sided type brushes tend not to help much so get yourself a decent brush that will help take out loose dead hair. Handstripping will also help as it takes away the dead hair when its ready to come out. Avoid coat kings, furminators and stripping knives if she has a sleek coat as over time they can ruin the texture. For very thick coats and spayed coats which go fluffy clipping may be the answer and this too will help keep hairs at bay.

    Other than that the best advice is to buy a good vacuum cleaner!


  2. Its due to there thick coat, now that the weather has got warmer you find they will shed more. I recommend a table spoon of olive oil plus some garlic on the food which will also help to keep the fleas and ticks at bay also regular brushing with a good strong brush.

  3. I have a long haired German shepherd who sheds heavily. I have put him on a daily dose of Yumega, after a week his coat texture improved and after four weeks the shedding has definitely improved so much. I cant recommend this enough.

  4. John Davies, Commercial Director and Co-Founder of Lintbells5 July 2011 at 09:21

    To reduce your dog's moulting, your dog’s hair requires a constant supply of nutrients to remain anchored in the skin. Nutrients that support healthy hair are the same as those that support healthy skin: vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
    Hair that doesn’t receive a balanced supply of nutrients becomes dull, loosens, and falls out, so its important to feed your dog a high quality diet to reduce moulting.

    One of the key things is to ensure they have sufficient omega oils in their skin and coat:
    o Omega 6 oil, LA, is the key component of the skin’s moisture barrier and helps to stop the skin from drying out, enabling it to hold on to the hairs and reduce your dog's moulting.
    o Omega 6, GLA, helps to nourish and replenish the skin. By nourishing the skin, it ensures the skin stays healthy and maintains active coat growth rather slipping into a resting phase and losing the hair.
    o Omega 3, ALA, helps to keep the coat in good condition. These oils help to coat the outer coat hairs, providing waterproofing and protection from the outside elements.

    Yumega provides the correct ratios of these key omega 3 and 6 oils to ensure your dog’s skin and coat are properly nourished. By simply adding to your dog’s food, Yumega reduces dog moulting and promotes active hair growth, keeping your dog’s coat strong and healthy.

  5. Moulting is a part of normal physiology. It is not related to a deficiency. Nor is it caused by central heating. It usually occurs when the seasons change and is method of cleansing the system. That way the body expels waste matter as preparation for a new year. A normal moult will last about two weeks; if the dog moults persistently this is a sign that there is an excess of waste matter to expel. This is related to unsuitable diet - usually low-quality food or over-feeding, (or a combination of the two) especially if the diet is high in protein and fat or additives.
    A warm environment (well heated house;summer weather) reduces the animal's need for energy to keep warm. This will create an excess in the system which the body eliminates as a moult. To that extent, central heating can be a factor but it is not the prime cause.
    What's the solution? A high quality food which uses good ingredients and is low in protein and fat and free from chemical additives.
    How much to feed? The daily amount should be adjusted until the moulting stops. In other words, the absence of moulting is a sign that you are close to getting the diet right.
    John Burns BVMS MRCVS
    Burns Pet Nutrition;

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