Understanding Pet Moulting: Causes, Duration, and How to Help Your Pet

Although moulting in pets is natural, the amount of fur coming off your pet can sometimes seem never-ending! And with the seasons about to change, you may see even more fur around the house.

Luckily, PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing is on hand to explain why and when pets moult and what you can do to help your furry family member.

“Some breeds of pets shed a lot all year round, while others shed hardly anything,” explains Nina. “The key is knowing what’s normal for your cat, dog, or rabbit so you can spot a potential problem.”

Why do pets moult?

“Moulting is the body’s way of replacing old, dead, or damaged fur to make way for new fur. Some animals shed more than others, depending on breed, coat type, season, diet and stress levels. Although it can happen all year round, moulting is often more noticeable in the spring or autumn. During these seasons, an animal’s lighter summer coat is replaced by a thick winter version (or the other way round in spring).

How long do pets moult for?

“Several things determine this, but it’s essentially down to the individual animal and their environment. Some animals shed all year round and some shed more at specific times of year. It’s important to learn what’s normal for your pet so you can identify any change that might indicate a problem. Many factors affect moulting, including the time of year, exposure to heat and light, anxiety and stress, hormones – like when your pet is in season or pregnant, or if your pet has a health condition.

When should I be concerned about my pet’s moulting?

“You only need to be concerned about your pet losing fur if new fur does not grow back in its place, if the skin underneath looks red or if your pet is itching more than usual. If you notice bald patches in your furry friend’s coat, they could have a skin condition or could be over-grooming due to stress, injury or pain. The best thing to do is visit your vet so they can examine your pet and give you advice on what to do next.

When should I expect my pet(s) to moult?


“When rabbits are young – at around five months old – a transitional coat replaces their ‘kitten’ coat. Soon after, the rabbit’s adult coat will develop, and then they will generally moult twice a year: once in the spring and again in the autumn. However, house rabbits are kept in very different conditions to wild rabbits, so they can have a more varied moulting pattern. As rabbit owners will know, some appear to moult almost constantly!


“How often a cat moults can depend on how much exposure they have to daylight, weather and temperature. This means they usually shed more noticeably in spring and autumn, like other pets. It also means indoor cats can shed all year round as artificial lighting and centrally heated homes can confuse their normal shedding routine.


“Some dogs shed constantly all year, some shed seasonally in spring/autumn, and some appear not to shed much at all. Dogs with longer or silky coats seem to shed more than dogs with short or coarse coats, however, that could be because the length of the hairs, make them much more noticeable. Some breeds are known as ‘low shedders’, such as Maltese, Poodles, and Yorkshire Terriers. ‘High shedders’ include Saint Bernards, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Labradors.

Is there anything I can do to help my pet while they’re moulting?


“While it’s impossible to stop your pet shedding completely, keeping on top of their grooming requirements will mean they’re less likely to shed all over the house. This can be achieved through a professional groom or brushing them at home. If you are brushing them at home, pick a time when they’re relaxed, and every so often offer them low calories treats throughout the process to make it a positive experience.

Diet and nutrition

“As well as regular grooming, your pet’s nutrition and general health can affect moulting. It’s good to review your furry friend’s diet from time to time, as nutritional requirements vary during their life. A good diet supports a healthy coat and skin, so it’s important to feed a diet suitable for your pets life stage.

Flea treatments

Parasites are unpleasant to live with and very irritating for your pet. Maintaining a regular flea treatment programme will prevent your pet from scratching, which can cause scurfy and sore areas, so helps to ensure your pet has clear and healthy skin.


“Watching out for signs of allergies in your pet is important, such as scratching, carpet surfing (dragging themselves along the carpet), or shaking their head excessively. If you notice any of these signs, contact your vet for advice as discomfort from allergies can be distressing and cause over grooming which can lead to excessive hair loss and even bald areas or skin infections developing.

Nina’s moulting clean-up tips:

  • Be prepared to hoover regularly to keep on top of the hairy floors!
  • Invest in fur-busting tools such as a lint brush or roller to remove fur from clothes.
  • Rubber gloves are also great for getting fur off clothes and furniture. Put on a rubber glove, dampen it with clean water, and then brush your hand over the fabric. The hair should come away and stick to the gloves.
  • Dry sponges are also an option for removing pet fur from furniture, with the added advantage of being reusable! You might find it works better if you dampen it a little.
  • Use sticky tape if all else fails or you have nothing else to hand. It’s slightly more time-consuming and wasteful (so not great for the environment) as you’ll have to keep ripping off a new piece, but tape will pick up a lot of hair from clothes and furniture.
  • To protect your sofa from fur, try using blankets and throws. It’s much easier to pop one of these in the wash than clean your sofa (although be sure to shake it out first so you don’t clog up your washing machine with fur). Remember that cats prefer familiar smells, so it might be best to try and brush the hair off their blankets rather than wash them weekly.

PDSA is the UK’s largest vet charity providing a vital service for pets across the UK whose owners struggle to afford treatment costs for their sick and injured pets. For many vulnerable pets, PDSA is there to help when there is nowhere else for their owners to turn. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information.

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