When it comes to our pets, we often want to do whatever we can to make them happy and comfortable. For many pet owners, this means making sure their home is filled with animal-friendly décor and that they are always well-groomed.
One thing that’s important to remember, however, is that like us, animals shed hair – sometimes a lot of it. While shedding isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can become a problem when the hair starts piling up.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss what causes animals to shed and offer some tips for keeping the hair under control.
Some animals are born to shed. That’s because the genetic makeup of dogs, cats, parakeets, and other domesticated or wild animals determine whether they have an undercoat or not.
As you may know, fur is made up of two layers—the outer layer known as “guard hairs” and an inner layer known as the “undercoat.” The undercoat is designed for warmth and insulation.
During shedding, the dead hairs are pushed out by new ones. Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether your dog or cat is experiencing a heavy shed because of their fur type, but you’ll likely notice scattered clumps of hair throughout your home.
If you’ve ever taken care of a pet, then you can probably tell that animals also shed based upon their age.
Depending on the species of your furry friend, they may go through a major shedding phase as a juvenile or quite often during adulthood. For instance, birds are known to have sporadic shedding periods quite often.
This is because birds only grow new feathers every so often—usually after molting. Similarly, rabbits will go through occasional massive hair sheds due to the fact that they only grow new coats once or twice a year.
Why do mammals shed hair?
Mammals are constantly growing and shedding hair. It’s one of the ways their body regulates temperature, and it also helps keep them clean. But why do mammals shed hair in the first place?
Mammals are animals that nurse their offspring with milk from mammary glands. While there are many different types of mammals, they all have one thing in common – hair. Hair helps to regulate body temperature, protects against the sun’s ultraviolet rays, and is a sensory organ.
Most mammals have guard hairs, which serve as the most important layer of insulation. The guard hairs protect the skin from direct contact with cold and wind, particularly in breeds that live in colder climates
So what causes animals to shed?
There are several conditions or events that can cause an animal to shed hair. These include molting, going through a growth phase, illness or injury, dietary deficiencies, stress, and even changes in temperature during seasonal shifts
Molting is a natural process for all birds and some mammals where they replace their feathers and fur throughout the year as they grow new ones to keep them warm and protected from weather elements. In birds specifically, there are more than 1,000 types of feathers They naturally lose and replace them over time. It’s a natural process that happens every so often in animals, which you can sometimes see in your pet when they have dull or faded feathers/fur
Dietary deficiencies are another common cause of hair loss. This typically occurs when an animal doesn’t get the necessary nutrients from its food sources to support healthy hair growth
In some cases, dietary deficiencies may be due to a lack of certain vitamins or fatty acids in your pet’s diet. In other cases, it may be related to intestinal parasites, infectious diseases, failure to absorb nutrients from food sources, or failure for an infant animal to receive sufficient nutrition from its mother during nursing.
Stress can also play a role in reducing the quality of your pet’s hair. Stress can affect all animals, including humans, and can be caused by certain events like a new pet in the family, moving to a new home, or even losing another pet
Changes in temperature due to seasonal changes also cause animals (including birds) to molt. Since they are warm-blooded animals this causes them to change their hair/feathers during periods of warmer weather for lighter coats and vice versa when it gets colder with denser coats.
Are mammals the only animals with hair?
Most mammals have two types of hairs—a thick coat layer made up of guard hairs that act as an insulation barrier; and an underlying soft undercoat that keeps them insulated.
Birds also have two types of hairs. The first, which are called remiges and rectrices, are the flying feathers that allow birds to fly. Then there’s the downy soft undercoat for insulation.
Certain mammals have very few visible hairs (for example, elephants) but they still grow short bristly hairs all over their bodies.
This helps protect them from the sun’s ultra-violet rays and act as sensory organs that detect touch, temperature changes, or vibrations in the water. Despite this lack of visible hair elephants still go through occasional shedding – just like other animals do.
Why do some animals shed their skin?
Many species, including humans, molt their outer layer—often feathers, hair, skin, or exoskeleton—in order to grow larger or prepare for the next stage of their life cycle. Molting is an essential process for all birds, amphibians, reptiles, and insects.
It’s a natural replacement of their outer layer or covering which they lose in the form of hair, feathers, scales, shells, or skin.
Some animals shed to get rid of parasites while others may rub off their fur against trees to remove ticks before the winter months.
Small animals like rabbits typically have controlled molts that are often triggered by short day lengths during autumn/winter when they’re exposed to less natural light. This change in light can signal them to start growing new coats at this time of year because it will be warmer. At this point, it usually becomes much harder for small mammals to maintain body heat so it’s important that they have a dense coat before winter.
Why do mammals shed hair?
Mammals just like birds and reptiles shed their outer layer which they do naturally when growing new coats or during spring/autumn to stay warm or cool down. Most mammals will molt between 3-4 times a year with the exception of Monotremes (platypus and echidna) who molt once a year
Generally, molting in most small mammals is controlled by day length so they’ll typically start around September/October and last until late November/December, sometimes into January depending on where you live
In larger animals, it’s not easily seen because their fur covers up the loss of hair but this shedding can happen more regularly in horses where they go through a ‘spring shed’ when shedding their winter coat. Other larger animals like cattle, deer, and buffalo also tend to molt once or twice a year although this can depend on the breed of animal.
Mammals (including humans) naturally shed their fur/hair on occasion for many different reasons. This is very normal and unless you notice excessive hair loss this should be of no concern to you or your pet.
However, if more than just one or two hairs are seen around the home then there could be more serious problems with your pet’s health which would require veterinary care. A veterinarian may want to do blood tests to rule out internal causes of hair loss such as thyroid problems, stress, or allergies.
They may also check for skin parasites like mites or lice which can cause severe itching in pets that will lead them to chew at their skin. So it’s important to identify these early before they develop into further complications.