Is it normal for a dog’s coat to change colour?

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

I adore my dog’s dark brown coat colour a lot.

But lately, I’ve observed that the fur colour of my dog is lightening a bit. I wasn’t much worried but many questions popped in my mind.

So after doing a lot of research, I’ve compiled a few important reasons that your dog might change its colour.

Here’s what you need to know:

The change in the dog’s coat colour is often nothing to worry about. But at times, this change tells you that your dog might be suffering from serious medical conditions. At other times, you are dog is just aging and its fur’s colour is lightening just like our hair lighten with age.

Let’s see why the fur colour changes and when to worry about it. 

Is it normal for a dog’s coat to change colour? 

Every dog has a specific coat colour that usually doesn’t change as it does for chameleons. But sometimes, the dog’s fur does undergo a change in colour because of several reasons

If the colour of a dog’s coat darkens from the normal, then its hyperpigmentation. And if the colour lightens from the original one then its hypopigmentation. 

So, the colour can darken or lighten and yes, this colour change tells you something about your dog. The colour change can be subtle or too prominent. Hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation also tell you something about your dog’s health. Let’s look into the reasons why your dog’s coat changes its colour. 

Reasons why a dog’s coat change colour

Aging 

Dog’s age just like any other living being. During the ageing process, the fur colour can lighten. This change in the coat colour is just like the greying of human hair as they age. But the greying is not to that extent, only the colour of the coat lightens. The process of lightening can vary from species to species, and also depends on the environment the dog is living in. 

The colour of the coat lightens because it takes a lot of energy to produce melanin, the chemical that gives colour to the coat. The energy is utilized for other more important processes that can otherwise halt and result in a seriously ill dog. 

Hair shaving 

If you shave your dog’s fur, then you may notice lighter hues on the new fur. The fur usually becomes lighter in colour and professionals nowadays explain this to the dog owners that you might not get the original fur colour and texture afterward. 

Injury or surgery 

When the dog’s skin is injured or has an incision, then the new fur that grows is usually darker in colour. This hyperpigmentation occurs because the cells that contain melanin rush to the injured area to heal it. As a result, the fur that regrows becomes darker than the normal colour. 

Hypothyroidism 

Now comes something serious that can be a reason your dog’s coat colour is changing. Hormonal changes, such as hypothyroidism, can lighten or darken the coat colour. Along with this, your dog will also face many other problems such as heart rate problems and obesity. So, only change in the coat colour isn’t a sure indication that your dog is suffering from hypothyroidism. 

It’s wise to call the vet and get your dog checked thoroughly. The vet will run a few blood tests that will clear the situation. 

Vitiligo in dogs

If you notice white patches on the face or all over your dog, then it might be vitiligo. This condition occurs as the melanocytes, cells that contain melanin die. They die due to many different reasons, like immune system problems, genetic factors, and sometimes the reason remains unknown. 

Cancer 

Skin cancer in dogs is also responsible for the change in coat colour. This would be accompanied by other problems as well. The melanocytes reproduce abnormally and this results in hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation. 

Myths about change in dog’s coat colour

Some people believe that the colour of the dog’s fur changes because of its eating habits. That isn’t true. Permanent coat colour change doesn’t occur due to what your dog eats.

Many people think that beetroot darkens the dog’s coat colour as beetroot is highly pigmented. But this isn’t correct. Intake of beetroot can change the stool colour but not of the fur.

Also, it is believed that too much copper intake can cause hyperpigmentation. The food that contains copper is reddish-brown often. But surprisingly, copper isn’t reddish brown. It’s blue in colour and your dog’s fur doesn’t change to blue after eating copper-rich food. 

Carotenoids can change the dog’s coat colour a bit, but just for a few days. It will change into a normal colour just like before. 

Treatment

Mostly the change in colour is due to aging or not very serious problems. So, your dog can be treated at home. Remember, the colour won’t change to original but you should treat the underlying cause of colour change.

In other cases, if your dog is being diagnosed with some serious medical problems then the vet will decide what to do further. It’s always better to get your dog checked by the vet on a regular basis. 

How to keep your dog’s coat healthy?

Your dog’s coat is healthy if it’s shiny and silky. If the fur seems rough, then you have to groom your dog. If you cannot groom it properly, then call the vet or a professional to do it on regular basis. Grooming can help maintain your dog’s fur and it might not change its original colour as it ages. Further, you have to keep a check on the colour of your dog’s coat as it tells a lot about its health.

Feeding nutritious food is very important for a healthy coat. Do not overfeed and repeat one meal again and again. Try to change the ingredients in the meal and always feed fresh and organic food, preferably.

The bottom line

If you notice the colour change in your dog’s coat then, watch it closely. Sometimes it’s totally safe and normal as aging can also change the coat colour. But the change in coat colour can also be an indication of some serious medical problems. So, you should always consult a vet if you notice a drastic change in the colour of your dog’s coat.

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