Environment and Hormones: A Hairy Topic
Your dog's environment has a direct impact on the look and feel of his coat. For example, natural daylight, or lack thereof, can trick the dog's coat into excessive shedding. Dog hair grows in cycles. Shedding is generally greater in spring and fall as new hair growth begins. When the number of light hours increases, the coat becomes less dense and more coarse as sebaceous secretion increases.
This process allows for air circulation throughout the coat - a kind of air-conditioning system. When days shorten, shedding increases as new hair growth begins. The coat thickens, sebum production decreases and the hair's insulating properties are enhanced.
There is also a constant exchange of moisture between the dog's skin and his environment. Just as humans suffer the effects of dry, artificial heat, lack of humidity can wreak havoc on coat, especially during winter months. Constant temperatures and a regular schedule of light and dark hours, with the avoidance of extended artificial daylight, could decrease the severity of the natural shedding process, and a humidifier will go a long way in adding moisture to the dog's environment.
Sebum, produced by sebaceous glands, helps keep skin supple and coat glossy. The production of sebum is directly affected by androgens and estrogens - male and female hormones. The hormonal level in your dog will change as a result of being spayed or neutered, or whelping a litter, and it's possible the coat will be affected. A decrease in sebum production reduces the rate of hair growth and allows for moisture loss, which causes brittleness and coat breakage.
Do not, however, allow this possibility to dissuade you from neutering or spaying your pet. Besides the obvious advantage of avoiding unwanted litters, the benefits include, for females, reduction or elimination of hormone-related diseases and prevention of pyometra and tumors; for males, prevention of testicular tumors and prostate problems. These 'pros' far outweigh the problem of split hairs.
You can enhance coat and skin health by feeding your dog a high quality balanced diet, brushing his coat regularly and using detergent free shampoos as well as a conditioning product that will smooth and seal the coat.
Together, these steps will provide most any fur kid the optimum in coat and skin health, comfort and social acceptance!
~Used with permission