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Why does my dog shed its hair in winter?

Dogs have different types of coats and hairs than humans – they are not little humans. Dogs have different hairs involved in their coat. In most hair follicles there can be up to 3 different hairs growing or lying dormant. As the different seasons change then so does the need to have different forms of coats – the undercoat gets thicker in winter to protect the skin and during the winter months the dog will shed the hair from the previous summer to allow the coat to cleanse itself and for the new hairs associated with the cooler months to come through.

Dogs shed their coat all year round but at certain times the shedding becomes excessive as the new coat starts to push the old coat out.

Does a dog or cat sweat?

Despite common belief that a dog or cat does not sweat the simple answer is that your dog or cat does sweat but instead of sweating water for evaporative cooling (humans do that) your dog or cat sweats an oil into every hair follicle. This oil lubricates the hair as well as supplies a layer of protective covering for the skin to hold moisture on the surface and to supply products that minimise the development of harmful organisms that would attack the skin.

The problem is that the sweat glands becomes excessive in its action during our warm months and the resulting amount of sweat clog the hair follicle or retain too much moisture at the skin level leading to development of a yeast on the skin.

It is the yeast development that causes the dog or cat to “smell”.

Remember that most breeds of dogs or cats were bred in cooler or cold climates and not bred to live in a hot humid climate that we experience here.

Why is my animal scratching?

The animal is scratching because it is itching. If we remove the cause of the irritation then the scratching will go. A dog or a cat does not scratch just for something to do.

There are numerous causes of itching but the major cause is usually associated with allergies or infections. The most common cause of allergies is from flea bites but the animal can develop an allergy to lots of different causes in the environment – some of these allergens are in the air (pollens) and some are in the food and some are where the animal sleeps or lives.

It is difficult to identify the cause of itching and we recommend that a veterinarian examines you animal to try to work out the best form of action to remove the irritation or to deal with the allergy.

My dog is scratching above his tail. What is that from?

Around 95% of the time when a dog scratching above his tail then he has a flea allergy.

My dog has hair missing – what could it be?

Any animal that develops a bare patch should be checked by a vet. There are a number of causes and they include ringworm, mites, infection, allergies, hormonal problems, self mutilation and trauma.

How do I know if my dog or cat has ringworm?

The only proper way to find out is to take the animal to the vet. The vet will put the area under an ultraviolet light and examine it for fluorescent fibers. Better still – the vet will take some hair samples and culture them to see if the fungus responsible for ringworm grows.

Ringworm is contagious to other animals and to humans – it is important for everyone to find out if your animal has ringworm.

My child has ringworm. Could she have caught if from the dog or cat?

Yes she could have. Ringworm is termed a zoonotic disease and that means that it can travel between humans and animals. But in the same manner your child can give your dog or cat ringworm just as easily.

Rather than blaming your dog or cat (and medicos love to blame the animal) it is recommended that you get your dog or cat checked by one of our vets. The vet will take some hair samples and culture them over the next 2 weeks to see if your animal is carrying the fungal spores. If the animal is a carrier then we will recommend treatment.

In the mean time it is important you instigate some form of treatment for your child.

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