Have you ever wondered how to stop dog shedding or what causes dog shedding in the first place?
In most instances, shedding is the natural process of the coat ridding itself of hair that is old, detached, and in some cases, damaged. Once older hair is shed, room for new and healthy hair (which keeps your dog's coat full and warm) can be made. The shedding process is completely normal for all canines -- some more than others -- but it can certainly be frustrating for pet owners who feel like all they do is vacuum up piles of fluff!
The frequency and amount of hair that is shed depends on several factors, including the dog's breed, weather conditions, diet, potential allergies, and much more. Regardless of the cause, it is possible to keep shedding under control through at-home grooming and proper diet. But if you are doing all of this and still find yourself wading through a sea of loose dog hair and dander, check out these tips and tricks to reducing shedding.
Some Dogs Shed More Than Others: Choosing a Breed
When choosing a dog, you should consider at-home grooming needs, the allergies of individuals in your household, and the amount of money you’re willing to spend on professional grooming. Different breeds shed at different times and rates throughout the year.
Some dogs shed seasonally in the spring and fall, while other dogs shed all year long. One common misconception is that a hypoallergenic dog won’t shed or cause an allergic reaction. The reality is that truly hypoallergenic dogs are simply those that produce less dander.
Keep Allergies in Mind
For some people, being in the same room as a dog means itchy eyes and a runny nose. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, three in 10 people in the United States suffer from cat and dog allergies.
While some people can reduce the symptoms of allergies through medication, others may be dangerously affected by shortness of breath or skin reactions, such as hives. Pet hair is not an allergen, but it can collect dander, urine, and saliva -- all of which cause allergic reactions.
Rather than dealing with the potential dangers to those in your home with pet allergies, you may want to choose one of the breeds that don't shed, like Afghan Hounds, Poodles, Irish Water Spaniels, or Portuguese Water Dogs.
How to Reduce Dog Shedding
Of course, no one likes tumbleweeds of dog hair floating across the floor. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help keep your dog’s coat, undercoat, and dander under control all throughout the year, regardless of their breed. It may surprise you to learn that most of these tips to control dog shedding will cost you little to nothing to implement.
Choose the Right Brush
Depending on your dog’s coat type, you may need to brush your dog every day or only once a month! There are several different types of brushes:
- Bristle Brush: This brush is good for all coat types, but a brush with more widely spaced and longer bristles should be used on dogs with a longer coat. Coarser hair may require stiffer bristles.
- Wire-Pin Brush: This type of brush is good for curly, woolly coats that range in length from medium to long.
- Slicker Brush: Made with fine wire bristles, a slicker brush is useful for removing mats and tangles.
- Combs: Rubber curry combs massage your dog’s skin and help to remove dead hair from short-haired dogs.
Choose a Shedding Tool
Whether your dog sheds seasonally or year-round, choosing a shedding tool that is designed specifically to remove dead hair from your dog’s coat can help reduce the tufts you find drifting around your home. Some shedding tools are brushes with closely spaced, stainless steel tines that work on removing the undercoat, while others are shedding blades with serrated teeth.
Feed Your Dog a Healthy Diet
A dog who eats a complete and balanced dog food will consume the vitamins and nutrients they need to keep their hair follicles growing strong and resilient to breakage. Some dogs benefit from a dietary supplement of Omega-3 fatty acids to promote healthy hair growth, in addition to supporting joint, heart, and immune health. Before starting your dog on supplements, speak with your veterinarian to determine the benefits for your dog.
Increase Water Intake
Knowing how much your dog is drinking can be tricky, but if your dog is shedding more than usual, you may want to keep an eye on their water bowl. The general rule is that a dog should drink an ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. This means that a 10-pound dog needs a little over a cup of clean water. Dehydrated skin is a major cause of hair loss and can easily increase the amount of loose fur you have to clean up around the house.
Consider Frequent Bathing and De-shedding Treatments
Bathing your dog not only cleans their coat, but also helps to remove dead hair, which often intertwines itself with healthy hair. De-shedding shampoos and conditioners contain moisturizers and Omega-3 fatty acids that hydrate your dog’s skin and fur to create healthier, stronger follicles, while simultaneously detangling old, dead hair from new, healthy hair.
These shampoos and conditioners can also help loosen and remove your dog’s excess undercoat. Bathing your dog regularly and grooming them using brushes or de-shedding tools once they're dry can significantly help to combat shedding.
Visit Your Veterinarian
Some canine medical conditions can cause excess shedding. Parasites, fungal infections, stress, and even sunburn are some of the more common problems that will cause your dog to have excessive hair loss.
Hormonal issues due to thyroid imbalance can lead to inflamed skin and brittle hair as well. If your dog suffers from skin allergies, their chronic skin inflammation can result in itchiness. The more your dog scratches, the more hair will be pulled from their coat. Take your pup for a full checkup if they are exhibiting exceptional hair loss or losing hair in patches.
Make More Time for Fun
Remember, regular brushing and grooming not only helps to keep their coat healthy, but also gives you and your pup an opportunity to bond. You can also follow up grooming time with a walk, a game of fetch, or by simply hanging out together.
Trying one or more of our six tips to help minimize your dog’s shedding can save you time and money in the long run, as well as stop heaps of hair from piling up in your home. You can also use the time spent brushing and grooming your dog to do an overall health check: Look for any new cuts, lumps, dry skin, lesions, or parasites that may need to be treated by your vet.