Definitely: an old dog can get white hair. It is a normal sign of aging, but if it occurs prematurely in young dogs, it can be a health problem that causes it.
To start the discussion, it is important to remember that the dog can be counted as old when it is seven years old. An old dog can get white hair as part of the normal aging process. Below we will look at what white hair really is and when you should take them as a warning sign.
Hair turns white (or gray) when it loses pigment, or melanin – a substance that is responsible for giving your skin and hair color, among other things.
As a dog gets older, its body produces less of an enzyme that takes care of neutralizing hydrogen peroxide. It is a normal phenomenon associated with the natural wear and tear that cells are exposed to over the years, but the body continues to create hydrogen peroxide as a by-product of metabolism.
As a result of the lack of melanin, the hair loses its original color and becomes white or gray. In healthy animals and humans, this process is gradual and only part of the normal aging process.
Some dogs get white hair before the age of eight, when they officially become “old”. While it may seem fun to some people, early white hair can be a cause for concern.
Usually, white hair means that your dog’s cells break down faster than usual and that its body ages faster than it should. Among other things, it needs high-quality food with plenty of nutrition.
There are many aspects that play into the acceleration of cell damage, and there are also risk factors that are congenital in some dogs. At the bottom you will see how young dogs can – but should not – have white hair.
Stress and anxiety
Experts today say that oxidative stress accelerates the breakdown of cells and increases the risk of many diseases. This explains why antioxidants are so successful; Doctors and nutritionists highly recommend them.
As with humans, our furry friends are affected by high levels of stress and anxiety. Therefore , premature gray hair can also be a sign that something is wrong with their mental health.
There are many things that can raise a dog’s stress levels. Thankfully, most of these can be prevented by adopting healthy habits at home. Among the main causes of stress in dogs, we can highlight the following:
- Living in an overwhelming environment, exposed to unpleasant violent situations or negative emotions.
- A lack of physical activity can make the dog tense. As a result, he may develop behavioral problems, in addition to being able to age prematurely.
- An unbalanced diet can lower a dog’s immune system and put him at risk for disease and health problems. Therefore, this is also a risk factor for oxidative stress, cell destruction and behavioral problems.
Genetics can also be a crucial factor in the premature development of gray hair. As with humans, dogs can inherit white hair predispositions from their parents and grandparents.
Unfortunately, certain pathological and metabolic disorders can accelerate the natural wear and tear of your dog’s body, as well as the possible symptoms of premature aging. Therefore, it is essential to do what you can to prevent health problems.
Older dogs may have white hair, but it is a natural phenomenon linked to the aging process. But premature aging is a sign that something has gone wrong. Therefore, it may be a good idea to take her to the vet if she gets white or gray hair before the age of seven.