Cleaning up pet hair can be annoying, expensive and time-consuming, but there are steps you can take to minimize the amount your dog sheds. Shedding occurs so that animals can rid themselves of old, damaged or extra hair. Some breeds shed more than others as a general rule, but almost all dogs shed at least a little as a normal, healthy function. You can’t eliminate shedding completely, but you can reduce it by keeping your pet well-groomed and healthy.
1. Feed your dog a high quality, appropriate diet
Your dog’s health relies on a high quality diet that meets their nutritional needs. Digestible protein sources are the foundation of a good pet food, but there are many other factors to consider when choosing the right food for your pet such as age, breed, activity level and reproductive status. Pet food packages often come with a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials that will help you discern if that food will meet your dog’s needs. Be sure to consult your veterinarian to ensure that the food you have chosen is appropriate for your dog and is providing them with adequate nutrition. If you are noticing an excessive amount of shedding in your dog, start by evaluating their diet. A dog’s coat is often a reflection of the quality of food she eats, and nutritional imbalances can cause unwanted hair. Dogs with food allergies or sensitivities may be especially prone to diet-related shedding, and you may have to experiment with a few different pet foods to find which one works the best for them.
2. Keep your dog hydrated
Dehydration can cause dry skin and an increase of shedding, so make sure your dog has access to clean, fresh water at all times. Adult dogs need about one ounce of water per pound of body weight per day to stay hydrated, but growing puppies often need more. Be sure to keep one water bowl near your dog’s food bowl, but also consider placing additional water bowls around the house if hydration is a concern. Make sure your dog can easily and comfortably access their water bowl. Puppies may need smaller bowls, but some senior dogs may need an elevated bowl in order to drink without pain. Many dogs enjoy ice cubes especially in the summer. With the approval of your veterinarian, you can also try giving your pet moisture rich table foods such as cucumbers, bananas or sliced apples with the seeds removed. To increase hydration you can also add water to their food or choose a pet food with a higher moisture content. If you want to check a dog’s hydration, carefully feel their gums. If they are sticky or dry, they are likely dehydrated and need more water.
3. Add a fatty acid supplement
Omega-3 fatty acids can enhance the health of your dog’s coat and control shedding by decreasing dandruff and soothing irritated skin. You can choose a specially formulated omega-3 supplement at your local pet store or you can try adding olive oil or flaxseed oil to your dog’s food. Guidelines suggest starting with one teaspoon of oil per ten pounds of body weight, but check with your vet before adding any supplements to your dog’s diet. Salmon, tuna or other fish rich in these fatty acids can also be used to boost skin and coat health, but be sure to check with your vet first and take the necessary precautions. Fish skin is generally safe for dogs, but fish bones can be a choking hazard.
4. Control allergies and fleas
Allergies and fleas can also be a cause of increased shedding. Fleas cause itching, but even more so if your dog is allergic to the insect bites. In fact, many times the first sign of a flea infestation is hair loss along the dog’s spine, neck and thighs. You may also find red bumps, spots or scabs on their body. Steroids or other medications can be used to relieve itching once an infestation has occurred, but all dogs should take a year-round flea preventative. Care should be also taken that your dog’s environment is regularly cleaned to ensure that the fleas do not have a chance to breed. Even dogs who regularly take a flea preventative may occasionally be bitten.
5. Keep regular check ups with your dog’s vet
Your dog’s veterinarian is a wealth of information when it comes to the health and well-being of your dog. If your pet is experiencing an increase in shedding, don’t hesitate to check with their vet. Some health issues such as mites, trauma, allergies, ringworm, infection and hormonal imbalance can affect your dog’s skin and haircoat. Early identification of a problem can lead to easier and speedier treatment.
6. Check your dog’s collar
Your dog’s harness or collar may be the culprit when it comes to excess pet hair. An ill-fitting harness or collar can rub your dog’s skin causing irritation and itching. If you suspect that your dog may be uncomfortable, a friendly associate at your local pet store can recommend the right harness or collar for your dog’s size, body type and breed.
7. Brush and groom often
Frequent brushing removes excess fur and redistributes your dog’s skin oils throughout their coat. This ensures that less of your dog’s hair will end up on the furniture. When grooming your pet, take your time and be gentle. Working through snarls and tangles without care can cause your pet pain which will in turn cause them to avoid grooming. Taking care to ensure that brushing is a pleasant experience for both you and your pet will prevent it from being a chore. Instead it will become an enjoyable bonding experience for both you and your pet. The best way to gain your pet’s trust and cooperation is to make brushing a daily routine. Regular, daily grooming prevents large and painful knots from forming in your dog’s hair and promotes a beautiful, healthy coat. If possible, brush your dog outside to prevent loose hair from finding its way onto your furniture. No matter how frustrated you may become with your dog’s shedding, never be tempted to shave their coat. This leaves some dogs at risk for sunburn or even more serious problems such as skin cancer or heatstroke.
8. Customize your brushing tools
When it comes to grooming, make sure you have the right tools for the job. There are endless varieties of grooming brushes, but the three basic types are bristle brushes, wire-pin brushes and slicker brushes. Different hair types need different brushes and methods. Bristle brushes can be used on all coat types, but are customized for various breeds by varying the space between bristles as well as their length. For a longer hair coat, the bristles should be longer and more widely spaced. The stiffness of the bristles should correspond to the coarseness of your dog’s fur.
Dogs with medium, long, curly or woolly coats benefit from wire-pin brushes, which can be made with or without rubber on the tips. Slicker brushes are made with wire bristles and are valuable for working through matted or tangled hair. Many dogs need more than one type of brush to effectively remove all dead hair. If you need help choosing the best tools for the job, your dog’s groomer or vet should be able to recommend a brush or set of brushes that will work for your breed’s hair type.
9. Use a de-shedding tool
If your pet is a heavy shedder, consider buying a de-shedding tool. De-shedding tools work by reaching under your dog’s topcoat to remove loose hair from their undercoat without damaging live hair or injuring their skin. Some de-shedding tools claim that when used as directed they can reduce shedding by up to 90%. Most brands are appropriate for animals with long or short hair and are easy to use. De-shedding tools are particularly effective when used just before spring when dogs’ winter coats fall off and in the fall when dogs’ winter coats are just beginning to grow.
10. Bathe your dog regularly
Regular baths can help remove your dog’s loose and excess hair. However, it is best to research how often your dog should be bathed. If your dog baths too often, it may dry out their skin which can cause an increase in shedding. Be sure to find a gentle shampoo that won’t irritate your dog’s skin. Dogs with long hair may need a little help drying off after a bath. Use a cool blow dryer on the lowest setting to remove any remaining loose hair and prevent your dog from getting too cold.
It’s impossible to completely eliminate your dog’s shedding, but these tips will help you to minimize the amount of pet hair in your home and car. The normal amount of shedding can be kept under control by taking additional action in your home. Remove hair from your home regularly as hair becomes more difficult to remove as it embeds itself into upholstery fabric. Frequent vacuuming and use of furniture rollers will remove pet hair and dander. It may be worthwhile to use furniture throws to cover sofas, chairs or beds in your home to reduce mess. If your pet travels with you in the car, these can also be used to cover car seats. Furniture throws can keep your furniture looking and smelling clean while saving you the task of extensive vacuuming. With a little effort and knowledge, you can control your dog’s shedding and maintain a beautiful home.
Emily Conklin is the author for Gladwire.com, a happy, uplifting news site and social community on Facebook. When she’s not writing she enjoys skiing, traveling and playing her bunny.