Hair today… Hair tomorrow
November 26, 2014 – Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could eat our own hair? We’d have an endless supply of protein from cradle to grave, and never need to grow, gather or shop for food. Dogs and cats eat their own hair, and when allowed to hunt, they’ll engulf the hair of the critters they catch. Problem is… it’s tougher than nails. No one can digest it; so cats throw it up, and dogs poop it out. So what good is it?
Humans treasure hair; so much that they’ll wear other’s hair, transplant their own or paint it on with a pencil. But do pets really need, want, or even care if they have hair? The Chinese Crested, Mexican Hairless and Sphinx Cat don’t seem any worse for wear without it. Truth is… our fuzzy friends don’t really need hair, but their skin does.
The obvious attributes of hair are: 1) It’s beautiful, and defining, when used as ornamentation; 2) No one can deny its insulating properties during an icy cold winter; 3) It’s great for protection against the harsh rays of the sun, unforgiving resting places, and the occasional territorial assault, not to mention… it guards all the bodily openings; 4) It’s the first line of defense against flying objects like insects, pollens, dirt, and debris; 5) Its power of detection is second to none when navigating at night or scavenging through tight spaces; 6) It can stand on end as an effective warning device when bigger is better; 7) It can be shaken, like a mop, to displace water from a rain soaked skin; and most importantly, 8) It can assist in quintessential marking by guiding a stream of urine to its final destination. That’s a pretty impressive list of functions for a part of the body that isn’t even living. Who says “Animals don’t use tools?”
The hair follicle, or “hair factory,” serves a dual purpose as assembly line cranking out hair, and drain pipe oozing out oil and waste. Without the hair, the system shuts down; and white heads, black heads, and pimples pop up. Sound familiar? Yep, pets get acne too, and when the bacteria, yeast and mites show up; it’s curtains for the follicle. They’re either going to plug, burst or retire into dormancy. Bottom line: Lose the hair, lose the skin… in other words, “Bald ain’t beautiful for pets.”
How are you going to deal with this epilating chain of events? One word: Bathe (more often). What’s good for our skin is likely to be a whole lot better for theirs. You see, pets have a compound hair follicle, which means 8 – 10 hairs per follicle; we only have one… but that’s another story.