Shedding is a natural and healthy process in dogs, but if your beloved pet is a heavy and frequent shedder, do you simply have to live with dog hair all over your home? Fortunately, there are ways to effectively manage dog shedding so that it won’t feel like you’re either vacuuming thick mounds of fluff non-stop or wearing dog fur all the time!
Dog Shedding 101
How heavily and how often a dog sheds depend on the breed and the season. If you’re still deciding to get a dog, dog shedding should be one of your major considerations.
Your dog’s coat will require regular grooming to stay healthy; if your pet sheds heavily, you will most likely have to groom him more frequently to get the shedding under control. Of course, you can also have your precious pet professionally groomed if you have the budget for it, but you will still have to manage the shedding on your own, at home, when it’s your pal’s “shedding season.”
Some dog breeds are natural heavy shedders; these include Labrador Retrievers, Newfoundlands, Pekingese, and Siberian Huskies. These breeds have one thing in common - a thick double coat. You can expect these dogs to shed practically non-stop, but certain environmental conditions can also influence how heavily and frequently they shed their coat.
Depending on your location, both dogs that shed heavily and dogs that only shed moderately often do so seasonally. They often shed a lot during spring and their coat becomes lighter to prepare for the warmer weather of summer, and then they shed again during autumn and their coat becomes thicker to prepare for the cold winter temperatures.
Dog breeds that only shed minimally include Dachshunds, Border Terriers, and Poodles. They still shed damaged hair to maintain a healthy coat, but the amount and frequency are tolerable or may even be barely noticeable.
Grooming your dog
Brushing and grooming your dog regularly is important to help them maintain a healthy and beautiful coat. How often they will need grooming will depend on the type of coat they have and how often and how much they shed. Proper grooming is the best way to manage heavy shedding at home.
When Fido is shedding a lot, you may have to brush him a few times a week or even daily. You also have to choose the right kind of brush for his coat.
These include Beagles, Bull Terriers, Dachshunds, and Pugs. A brush with natural bristles or a bristled hound glove or mitt will work well to loosen ready-to-fall hair. Follow these steps when brushing your pet’s hair:
- Sweep in the opposite direction of hair growth and then in the direction of hair growth - this will, first, pull out the loose hairs and then remove them. Repeat this alternating brushing technique in the same area until no more hairs are coming off. Clean your brush in between brushings.
- If you’re using a glove or mitt, loosen the hairs by massaging the coat in a circular motion, and then stroke in the direction of hair growth to remove the hairs. Keep repeating in the same area until there are no more hairs sticking to the glove/mitt. Remove the hairs in between brushings.
Dogs with double coats are especially prone to heavy shedding. These include Border Collies, Corgis, Golden Retrievers, and Siberian Huskies. Double-coated dogs normally shed hair in tufts which they don’t seem to run out of when it’s “shedding season.” These dogs can shed so much fur that many owners find creative ways to use them - as pillow stuffing, for example.
A slicker brush, dog grooming rake, and/or steel pet comb are your best options. You may need all three grooming tools for different stages or heaviness of dog shedding. These tools will help you reach the downy undercoat to pull out the loose hairs.
- Brush your dog’s coat in both directions several times until there are fewer hairs coming off. Don’t keep going until there are no hairs, because these dogs typically shed their winter or summer coat for two full months.
- Use the rake or a shedding tool when the shedding is at its heaviest. Run it over the coat in the direction of hair growth and pull it up to remove the loose hairs.
- If your dog has matted hair, use a steel comb or mat splitter to pick it apart.
- You may have to comb/brush your dog every few days or even daily at the height of his shedding period.
- You can also use a car vacuum if the situation calls for it! Just make sure you know how to use it properly on your dog; consult your vet if you’re not certain. And you will have to help Fido get used to the sound and feel of the vacuum first.
- If there are signs of skin irritation and you know that it’s not the right season for your dog to shed his hair, the shedding may also be a symptom of an underlying condition. Take him to the vet to get checked and receive proper treatment.
Other ways to manage dog shedding
A well-balanced diet
A healthy diet that provides all the nutrients Fido needs to keep his hair follicles healthy will prevent abnormal shedding. Giving your pet an omega-3 fatty acid supplement has also been shown to promote the growth of a healthy and thick coat. Talk to your vet before giving your pet any supplement for the first time.
Adequate water intake
Especially during summer and the dry months of winter, your dog may shed unseasonably - both in terms of time and amount - if he’s not getting enough water. Inadequate water intake can lead to dry skin which, in turn, can result in some hair loss.
You can bathe your best bud using a deshedding shampoo and conditioner during his shedding season. These products are formulated to help loosen and remove the excess undercoat, as well as keep your dog’s skin and fur moisturized, strong, and healthy.
If your dog’s excessive shedding is not normal and especially if you notice other symptoms, the shedding may be associated with an underlying medical condition. From stress or sunburn, to a parasitic or fungal infection, skin allergies, and even hormonal issues, any of these conditions can be the cause of your pet’s abnormal hair loss. Take him to the vet as soon as possible so that a proper diagnosis can be made and the appropriate treatment given.
Dog Shedding - Final Thoughts
Through regular grooming, using the proper tools, you can easily manage your dog’s shedding. Taking the time to brush your dog, especially during his shedding season, is a lot simpler than having to constantly clean your entire house to get rid of all his loose hair. It’s also a great opportunity for you and your beloved pet to spend quality quiet time together.