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Dear Daisy Dog

Sneakers, my German shepherd-Norwegian elkhound mix, is losing clumps of hair. He usually sheds heavily during the spring and fall, but this year is worse than usual. What’s causing this?

Daisy Responds

If Sneakers’ skin looks normal, his remaining hair is still thick and he’s not scratching, he’s undoubtedly healthy.

Shedding is normal in most dogs, but sometimes we dogs shed more heavily than usual.

Sneakers’ excessive shedding might be related to an especially thick hair coat grown while living in an air conditioned home over the summer.

Or maybe he’s getting older and less active, and the hair that would have been removed through exercise isn’t falling away as readily.

To get rid of the excess hair, brush and bathe Sneakers regularly. Swimming and toweling off afterward also help remove loose hair.

Although heavy shedding is often normal, a sparse hair coat with bald areas could indicate that Sneakers has a medical problem.

A common cause of excessive hair loss is an underactive thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism is readily diagnosed with a blood test and easily treated with medication.

If Sneakers is scratching, he may have fleas or mites. You can check for fleas yourself with a fine-toothed flea comb, but you’ll need your veterinarian’s help to identify mites. Treatment is easy and effective.

While the list of diseases that can cause baldness is long, most dogs that shed heavily are fine. If Sneakers’ remaining hair looks normal, his excessive shedding probably isn’t a problem.

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