VCA Animal Hospitals

What is my dog's coat telling me?

Published: Dec 20, 2012

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Much of your concern over your dog's coat may have been focused on shedding - will he ever stop? Will you be able to remove all the dog hair from your furniture? These concerns aside, your dog's coat may also be a good indicator of his overall well-being.

Next time you are petting your canine companion, look for these signs that may indicate something is up with his health.

Losing too much hair
All dog breeds have different rates of shedding, and lose hair gradually during different times of the year. However, if your dog's fur is coming out in clumps, or you notice bald patches on his coat, there may be something more serious than shedding going on. Hair loss is a clinical sign of hot spots on dogs as well as hormone imbalances that could indicate stress or a pet health condition like hypothyroidism in dogs. Call your veterinarian if you notice balding on your dog.

What's that smell?
Dogs are not known for smelling like roses all the time, but if you notice a foul odor that seems to come from your dog's coat or skin, it could be a sign of a bacterial or fungal infection on the skin. If the smell lingers even after a bath, you should call the vet to determine the cause.

Uncharacteristically wiry
Some dogs have naturally wiry or rough coats, but if your dog's fur is usually soft, shiny or fluffy and is suddenly feeling brittle or dry, this could be an indication of a health problem or nutritional imbalance. Dogs need a certain amount of healthy fats in their diets to keep their skin supple and coat healthy, so this change in texture may be a sign that you need to re-evaluate your dog's diet with the guidance of your veterinarian. 

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