By Elizabeth Anderson Lopez
Having cats and dogs is a joy, but dealing with shedding? Not so much. All pets shed to some extent. Luckily for your pet—and you—there are things you can do to reduce how much the fur flies around your house. Most strategies fall into two categories: minimizing shedding and cleaning it up.
Good nutrition for a healthy coat: The old “you are what you eat” adage also applies to your pets because food quality can impact coat quality. Poor nutrition can cause excessive shedding. Ask your veterinarian for food and supplement recommendations designed to help achieve optimal nutrition, leading to healthier fur. “If an animal is excessively shedding, has a dry coat or skin, then definitely I would recommend looking at the diet,” says Zack Grey, owner of The Urban Pet and Moon Shine Grooming in Los Angeles. “Fish oil is a good supplement but, really, having a high quality food can make a tremendous difference.”
Frequent brushing: One of the most important steps you can take to prevent shedding is a consistent brushing regimen using the right tools. Some experts recommend weekly brushings for short-haired pets and more frequent brushing for dogs and cats with long coats that can get matted. Matts are a good reminder that grooming is not just a cosmetic concern. Matted hair in both dogs and cats can be painful for your pet, and removing them won’t be a picnic for you either.
Excessive hair can cause hairballs in cats. If you have a cat that’s prone to hairballs, Linda Easton, president of International Professional Groomers, Inc., suggests misting cats with a special dry shampoo before combing to help get rid of fur. No matter what the frequency, brushing time should be painless and not something your pet dreads. Using the right tool is a big part of how your pet reacts to being brushed. Easton recommends using a comb on cats instead of a brush, and avoiding deshedding tools with a sharp edge. “Never use these on cats. Their skin rips.”
A slicker brush or pin brush for dogs is often the tool of choice. You may find a bristle brush is most effective with short-haired dogs. Many pet stores carry tools for excessive shedders, such as the ConairPro Shed-ItTM deshedder for dogs, which features additional attachments for a multi-dog household.
No matter what grooming tool you use, be sure to end a brushing session with treats so your pet knows the experience includes something tasty.
Periodic bathing: Regular bathing helps loosen and remove the hair that’s ready to come out. For heavy shedders, you can even use a rubber mitt with nubs that further work out the hair during a bath. After bathing, there’s a good chance your dog will benefit from a quick brush once it’s dry. Conclude with a favorite treat.
Cleaning It Up
So, although there’s no way to entirely eliminate shedding, if you have fur everywhere, there are things you can use to make clean-up easier:
• Use a lint roller or lint sheets to strip fur from you and your furniture.
• Rub a dryer sheet on your clothes to remove fur; do not use these directly on your pet.
• Run a full-size vacuum cleaner that’s specific for pet households.
• Use a handheld vacuum, also available in pet-specific models, for quick pick-ups on furniture.
No one likes dealing with cat or dog hair, but there are ways to make it more bearable. Shedding is a part of pet ownership, and these tools and tips will hopefully help your pet shed less and make it easier to remove those furry traces of your pet throughout your house. Your pet—and your clothes—will thank you!