Why Do Dogs (and Cats) Shed So Much?

cat and dog on sofa
Many of us use blankets to protect our furniture from the mounds of hair and fur our animals leave behind. Janie Airey/Getty Images

Shedding is a normal process for most animals with fur and hair, even you. When it stops growing, it sheds. So when it comes to our furry friends like Fido, a number of factors can determine how much they shed, including breed, age and overall health. The season can even influence the amount of shedding, usually most notably in spring.

Double-coated dogs like German shepherds and Huskies build undercoats that later shed twice a year, making them among the breeds that shed the most.


What if the Shedding Is Excessive?

Because of this variation among breeds, there's no real answer as to what's considered abnormal shedding. You have to get to know your pet's own characteristics within your environment, in addition to what's common for its breed.

If you notice new shedding and it seems unusual, it could be due to stress, poor nutrition or a medical problem. Maybe your pet has experienced a traumatic event, or you made changes in their food, grooming, medication or other routine.


Excessive shedding that leads to bald spots or skin irritation could mean your pet has an allergy. While you would most likely notice a severe case of fleas, lice or mites, the cause could also be due to several less obvious conditions like:

  • Fungal or bacterial infections
  • Kidney, liver, thyroid or adrenal disease
  • Excessive licking
  • Cancer
  • Immune disease

If you can't figure it out, talk to your veterinarian who can help determine if your pet's hair loss is part of the normal shedding process or is a symptom of an underlying trauma or disorder.

shedding dog
You love your dog, but not how much he sheds.


Fuzzy Was He: The Good News

Just like humans, pets can't do a whole lot about age-related hair loss, but fortunately, most shedding is normal and easily controlled with regular grooming either by you or a professional. There are shampoos to help reduce shedding or soothe irritated skin if you choose to bathe them yourself.

Also make sure you select the right tools for your pet's fur. For instance, you wouldn't use a wire rake brush on a short-haired dog or cat, and you'd get nowhere with a stiff bristle brush on a longhaired dog or cat.


Diet-related shedding can often be addressed by switching to a high-quality food that contains a proper balance of nutrients. You can also add supplements if you don't want to change your pet's diet.

If you want to try and avoid the whole shedding issue (none are 100 percent), go beyond the 'Doodle and check out this list of low-shed dogs. Keep your pet healthy and well-groomed and you're sure to love each other furrever!