Why Does The End of British Summer Time = Heavier Coat Shedding?
This weekend the clocks go back an hour to signal the end of British Summer Time (BST). You will likely notice a change in your dog's coat around this time but may not link the two things together. Surprisingly, although just a 60 minute change it can have an effect.
Hair growth is controlled by three things
These three things are connected to the absence or presence of daylight.
During the winter the availability of natural light becomes less, which affects the Hypothalamus area of the brain. The Hypothalamus produces hormones that controls the body’s heart rate, temperature, mood, hunger and sleeping rhythm. When the clocks change we directly affect all of a dog's daily activities. Feeding and exercising happen at different times exposing the dog to varying amounts of day light.
In the summer dogs typically tend to spend more time outdoors than in the winter, pretty much mirroring what we do as humans, and this can have a huge impact on their mental health. Being indoors for some dogs during winter months can have an adverse effect on their moods as well as their coat with some breeds being more affected than others.
Why does this matter?
Knowing what causes our dogs to shed helps us understand their grooming needs and our hoovering needs!
Shedding occurs as a natural part of the growth pattern of the hair. When shedding becomes more frequent it is a result of the cycle speeding up and vice versa
What causes changes in growth patterns of hair?
- Seasonal changes
This is the most common cause of changes in growth and shedding patterns. As the weather gets warmer the dog thins its coat and slows the growing cycle much in the same way as we wear lighter clothing, in the colder months more hair is needed to keep warm so the growth cycle speeds up
- Hormone changes
Imbalances in the male and female sex hormones can effect hair growth. Spayed and neutered dogs have a longer hair growth cycle making the coats thicker, longer and more unruly. Other imbalances, commonly thyroid hormones have a different effect and can stop hair growing.
Can cause dogs to lick, chew and scratch an area which can in turn lead to a damaged thinning and broken coat, this abuse of the skin and coat can have a direct impact on the hair growth cycle.
- Diseases and hereditary conditions
For example Colour Dilution Alopecia or CDA, where the hair is faulty due to the way that the colour is distributed and so it is shed more frequently and is prone to damage.
Hair and skin is essentially protein and takes a large amount of the dog's daily intake to produce a healthy skin and coat. If protein levels are not sufficient this will slow down the growing phase of the coat cycle and produce poor quality hair that will damage easily and result in slow growth.
How can owners help?
As owners we can help our dog's mood, coat and skin by walking them during daylight when possible, ensuring they are eating a balanced diet and use a massage brush on a daily basis to loosen and remove hair while improving its condition. Take a massage brush when you walk and brush in the park - the wildlife will love you for some extra nesting material and it will save on the vacuuming!