How to Reduce Excessive Shedding in Dogs

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How to Reduce Excessive Shedding in Dogs

Nearly all dogs occasionally shed their coat. Prolific shedders, such as German Shepherds, shed year-round, but even shed-resistant dogs such as poodles will shed occasionally. Weather and seasons play a big role when it comes to how much a dog sheds, but the overall health of a dog is one of the biggest factors that influences how much hair actually falls out. A dog who is shedding more than the usual amount for the breed may have undiagnosed health issues. You can't stop shedding altogether, but by keeping your dog healthy and well-groomed, you can reduce it.

Reducing Shedding Through Nutrition

How to Reduce Excessive Shedding in Dogs

1. Feed your dog a high quality diet.

One of the best ways to reduce excessive shedding in dogs is to start with a healthy diet. Cheap dog food is made mostly of fillers that dogs have difficulty digesting, such as corn and grains. Look instead for a dog food that lists meat as the main ingredient. Better quality foods cost a bit more upfront, but they're better for your dog for a variety of reasons. The nutrients in meat-rich dog foods are more easily digested and absorbed, so they promote better pup health overall and help control shedding and dry skin. Keep in mind that better nutrition can help reduce shedding, but it won't eliminate shedding completely.

  • Dogs with food allergies or sensitivities are particularly prone to diet-related shedding. You may need to experiment with a few different foods before you find one that's right for your dog; consult your veterinarian for advice and recommendations.
  • Do not feed your dog additional vitamin supplements unless recommended by your vet. "Hypervitaminosis," or vitamin poisoning due to excess consumption, can result in serious health issues for your dog.

2. Add olive oil or flaxseed oil to your dog's food.

One teaspoon (5 mL) per 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of body weight is a good place to start. These oils contain omega-3 fatty acids that help calm inflamed skin, decrease dandruff, and improve overall coat texture.

  • Many pet stores also sell omega-3 dietary supplements in capsule or powder form. Check with your vet to find the best choice for your dog.
  • You can also increase your dog's omega-3 fatty acid intake by feeding it salmon, tuna, or other fish rich in these fatty acids. Fish skins are also good, but never give your dog fish bones, as these can splinter and form a choking hazard.

3. Give your dog occasional "human food" snacks.

Sliced apples (without seeds, which contain traces of cyanide that can build up in your dog's system), bananas, and cucumbers, as well as cooked lean meats (no bones) are all moisture-rich foods that help your dog stay hydrated. They also contain healthy nutrients that help your dog's coat stay smooth and shiny and help reduce shedding. Remember, though, that only 5-10% of your dog's daily food intake should be treats of any kind -- the rest should be a high-quality dog food.

  • Many human foods are acceptable, even healthy, for dogs. Nevertheless, there are some foods you should never give your dog. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has a complete list, which includes such foods as avocado, chocolate, grapes, milk products, onions, and -- surprisingly, perhaps -- raw meat.

4. Give your dog access to clean, fresh water.

Dehydration can lead to dry skin, which can cause excessive shedding and even illness. Make sure your dog always has access to as much clean, fresh water as it wants to drink.

  • You can also up the water intake for your dog by incorporating moist foods into its diet. Wet dog food contains up to 78% moisture, compared to 10% for dry food, and can be a good way to make sure your dog stays hydrated.

Reducing Shedding Through Grooming

How to Reduce Excessive Shedding in Dogs

1. Brush your dog's coat regularly.

Grooming removes excess and loose fur and redistributes your dog's skin oils into its fur, helping it stay in place. Depending on your dog's fur type, you can use a bristle or slicker brush, or a rake. Aim to brush your dog at least once a week.

  • Bristle brushes are best for short-haired, smooth-coated dog breeds such as many terriers, Pugs, and Greyhounds. These brushes look similar to bristle brushes for human hair.
  • Slicker brushes are good for many dog breeds with medium or curly hair, including retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, and St. Bernards. These brushes have tiny, tightly-packed short wire pins.
  • Rakes are best for dog breeds with long hair and thick undercoats, such as Collies, German Shepherds, and Chow Chows. When buying a rake, make sure its pins are roughly as long as your dog's fur to ensure that it adequately thins dead undercoats.

2. Use de-shedding tools for heavy shedders.

Use de-shedding tools just prior to spring when dogs' winter coats begin to fall off, and again in the fall when winter coats begin growing in. Dogs who live indoors most or all of the time may shed year-round.

  • For dogs with short coats, you can likely use a rubber curry comb to de-shed. Dogs with long or thick coats will probably require tools like an undercoat de-matting rake or shedding blade.

3. Give your dog regular baths.

Regular baths encourage loose hair to fall out in the tub (or outside) instead of on your furniture. However, over-bathing can cause dry skin, which causes fur to fall out. Research your dog's breed to learn about the suggested bathing schedule, or ask your veterinarian.

  • Blow-drying after a bath can be helpful if your dog has a long coat. Use only the lowest heat setting (or a cool setting, if there is one). Towel-dry your dog first, then use the blow dryer to help remove loose fur.

4. Control fleas.

Dogs with flea problems scratch incessantly, which causes hair to fall out. Keeping your dog free of fleas will prevent irritated skin, dandruff and excessive fur shedding.


  • If your dog's fur keeps falling out despite all of your remedies, make an appointment with your vet. A dog who sheds excessively may be suffering from an undiagnosed condition such as skin allergies, infections, or parasites.


  • Frequent or constant licking of the feet or face may also increase shedding and may be a sign of a bigger health problem. See a vet immediately.
  • Dogs with bald spots, broken skin, open sores, or dull/dry hair should be seen by a vet as quickly as possible as these symptoms may signal larger health issues for your dog.