Do you wear your dog’s hair to work everyday?
Have you spent hours vacuuming every inch of the house?
Dog hair is bane of every canine owner’s existence. Whether you have one dog or multiple, we can all relate to the frustration of having dog hair everywhere. Having two dogs myself, I understand how aggravating shedding can be.
Unfortunately, while we cannot stop our dogs from shedding completely, there are some easy tricks we can use to cut back on the amount of fur loss.
Why Do Dogs Shed, Anyway?
Shedding is a completely normal occurrence for virtually all dogs.
- Dogs Shed To Grow New Fur. Just like humans, dogs have hair that is continuously growing. Shedding is the normal turnover of hair, allowing old or damaged hair to be replaced with new healthy strands which keeps your dog’s coat in tip top condition.
- Dogs Shed When Seasons Change. Shedding is especially evident during the changing of seasons. The transition from a winter to summer coat is usually the time of heaviest fur loss for dogs, so don’t fret when your long haired, double-coated dog loses giant clumps of fur come springtime.
- Some Breeds Shed More Than Others. While all dogs shed to some degree, there is a significant difference between the amount of fur loss between breeds. Some breeds, like Poodles and Poodle-mixes, are known for shedding very little. Heavy coated breeds, like Huskies, will shed so much that you’ll be surprised that your dog has any fur left.
There is no such thing as a dog that does not shed so let’s learn how to manage it!
How Can I Reduce My Dog’s Shedding?
There are several tricks to making your dog shed less and reducing the amount of fur in your environment:
Grooming Goes A Long Way. The easiest way to reduce the amount of fur loss is to make sure that you groom your dog regularly. Frequent brushing allows you to loosen and remove the unhealthy hair and disperse natural oils.
This results in a shiny, healthy coat that you and your canine can both be proud of!
Don’t Pass Up Bath Time. Bathing is also useful for stopping excessive dog shedding. The lathering motions will free the loose hair, which is then washed away as you rinse.
For optimum results, brush your dog on a weekly basis. Bathing, on the other hand, should only be performed every 1 to 3 months.
In this video, a vet suggests some techniques for how to reduce your dog’s shedding. We cover the same topics here, but it’s still nice to hear it straight from a vet!
What Are The Best Grooming Tools?
Choosing the right grooming equipment can be a very difficult process. There are many different dog grooming brushes available, and each has its own specific purpose.
Ideally, it’s best to consult with a groomer before buying any grooming tools, as each breed and coat type has specific needs.
Here are a few tried and true grooming tools that help reduce shedding:
- Furminator: The Furminator is by far my favorite brush. This tool comes with a guarantee that it will reduce shedding by up to 90%.
- ZoomGroom: The Kong ZoomGoom features a curry comb style brush that is great for removing loose hairs. It also dually works as a massaging tool to keep your dog feeling his best.
- Dematting Comb: Dog dematting combs are wonderful for removing matts and tangles from dogs with coarse coats. Care should be used with these combs because they are rather sharp.
- Slicker Brush: Slicker brushes work well for dogs with thicker coats and undercoats. They help release tangles and gather loose hair.
- Shedding Blade: Dog shedding blades feature a metal loop band with small serrated teeth on one side. The teeth are brushed against your dog’s coat, removing loose hair with each swipe. Blades are best for dogs that do not have very long coats.
- Glove Brushes: Glove brushes are ideal for dogs with short coats. These remove loose fur and massage your dog’s skin to help disperse oils and improve circulation. They also are a great way to bond with your dog while you groom him, providing a mini massage.
You Are What You Eat: How Nutrition Affects A Dog’s Shedding
Nutrition is one of the biggest culprits for causing excessive shedding.
I always ask for information about a dog’s diet when owners believe their dog is shedding too much. A poor quality or unbalanced diet will negatively affect the appearance of the coat and exhibit these signs:
- Dull/Dry coat
- Excessive shedding
These problems can be easily rectified by switching your dog’s diet to a higher quality, healthy dog food.
This switch should always be performed as a slow transition to prevent digestive upset. Over the course of a week, you will slowly increase the ratio of old food to new food.
Dehydration will also cause a dog’s hair to become dry and brittle, which leads to breakage and excessive shedding. Make sure your dog always has access to unlimited amounts of clean water and is drinking enough.
If you suspect your dog isn’t taking in as many liquids as they should, you may want to consider an automatic dog watering bowl, which can provide your pup with a continuous stream of fresh, clean water that can be more appetizing that old standing water.
Can Supplements Help Prevent My Pooch From Shedding?
There are tons of supplements on the market that claim to help improve coat quality. Among the best are:
- Omega 6 Fatty Acids: These fatty acids are most commonly found in your dog’s diet. They are essential for good coat quality and if your dog does not get enough of these in his food, his coat may suffer. It is usually unnecessary to supplement Omega 6 Fatty Acids because of the high amount in dog food and treats.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids: This is the most common supplement to boost coat quality. These supplements are usually derived from fish oils and are highly palatable. Look for pharmaceutical quality supplements, like Ascenta. Omega 3 fatty acids also support joint, heart, and immune health.
It is important to remember that these supplements do not work immediately. It can take 3 to 4 months to see visible results. Remember to discuss the correct dosage with your veterinarian because it is possible to cause problems by giving too much.
How can I reduce the amount of fur in my home?
When we share our homes with animals, we inevitably share it with their fur too. I’m sure there isn’t a single spot in my home that is free from pet fur.
Luckily over the years I have discovered some ways to cut down the amount of time I spend cleaning it up.
- Brush Your Dog Outside: This will allow any hair not contained within a brush to be whisked away outdoors, rather than getting that free-floating hair all over your couch and furniture.
- Vacuum Your Dog: With positive training methods, you may be able to train your dog to allow vacuuming. Do this after your weekly brushing to remove loose hairs and dander. You can even grab a dog vacuum brush that can be attached to your home vacuum, allowing for easy, mess-free grooming.
- Pet Vacuums: Purchase a home vacuum specifically designed to pick up pet hair. You will see immense results when compared to your conventional vacuum, as vacuums designed to pick up pet hair tend to be more powerful and heavy duty than most.
- Couch Covers: These pieces of fabric are designed to protect your upholstery from pet hair and stains. They are easy to take on and off and are machine washable, making them easy to clean..
- Car Covers & Hammocks: Special seat covers and hammocks are made to place a barrier between your dog and your car seats or carpet, preventing fur from destroying your back seat.
Should I Hire A Groomer To Deal With My Dog’s Fur?
Groomers are a wonderful resource if you are not able to groom your dog yourself.
They are specially trained to maintain the coats of almost any breed and can offer different services that will help reduce your dog’s shedding.
Some de-shedding techniques that groomers might use include:
- The Blow Out: Groomers will use a force dryer to help break up matted coats and remove loose hair.
A force dryer is a powerful, industrial grade dryer used by professional groomers to dry dogs more quickly than with a traditional blow dryer. This works exceptionally well for double coated or long-haired dogs.
- Shave Down: Shaving your dog’s fur completely is never advised. Dogs, especially those with a double coat, require their fur for insulation and temperature regulation.
By removing their hair completely, they have a harder time maintaining their body temperature. Sometimes it’s used as a last resort for matt-covered canines, but it’s best to avoid complete shave downs if at all possible.
Could My Dog’s Shedding Be a Medical Issue?
Shedding is a normal process in dogs, but excessive shedding is not. Abundant shedding (more than usual) is typically a clue to an underlying medical problem that is causing damage to the skin.
We already talked about poor nutrition, but there are several other causes for this condition.
- Fleas. These external parasites are amongst the most common reasons for hair loss in pets. Not only do their bites cause damage to the skin, but they also cause itching. In some animals, this will lead to a larger allergic reaction that can cause extreme itchiness and secondary skin infection.
Fleas are easily preventable with the use of topical or oral medications. There are even natural flea treatments that can be used to keep the little buggers at bay.
- Parasites. Other common external parasites can cause hair loss, especially mites. Mites are the cause of several forms of mange, which can lead to hair loss all over the body.
- Allergies. Chronic inflammation due to allergies leads to itching and damage of the skin. Consider switching to a holistic dog food or using hypoallergenic dog treats.
- Skin Infections. Similarly to allergies, infections cause inflammation to the skin which result in itchiness. The pathogens can also be responsible for the damage to the skin and hair follicles.
- Hormonal Conditions. Hormonal diseases like Cushing’s or hypothyroidism will lead to thinning of the hair or patches of hair loss.
- Stress. Shedding can be an involuntary reaction to stress – you may be surprised at the amount of hair you can see falling off your dog in fearful situations. This is not exactly abnormal, but something owners should be aware of.
- Pregnancy/Lactation. Female dogs will often shed an extreme amount of fur during and shortly following pregnancy, with dogs after “blowing their coats” after birth. This is not an abnormal occurrence, so don’t get too nervous if you see this happen!
This is just a short list of conditions that can cause excessive shedding in dogs. Remember, if your dog begins to show signs of thinning hair, you should have them seen by a veterinarian.
One of the wonders of being a pet owner is learning to coexist with them and their fur. Luckily, frequent and proper grooming, dietary changes, and nutritional supplementation are all effective ways to reduce shedding. We may not be able to completely eliminate hair loss but we can make it manageable!
Every pet owner has their own method of wrangling the fur. What are your tried and true techniques to save your home from the hair?