Here’s How to Manage It
Shed happens. It’s a normal process—dogs naturally shed old or damaged hair, though the amount and frequency is determined by breed, your dog’s health, and the time of year. Dogs that develop a thick coat in the winter will shed it in the spring when it is no longer needed for extra warmth. Dogs who are always kept indoors tend to shed evenly throughout the year.
That said, there are certainly things you can do to minimize the drifts of dog hair adhered to your pants and blowing like tumbleweed down your hallway.
First off is maximizing the health of your dog. Your dog’s skin and coat condition is overall a terrific barometer of how they’re doing health-wise. The quickest way to improve your dog’s fur and coat condition—and thus minimize shedding—is to improve their diet. At the minimum, make sure you’re feeding a high-quality diet low in filler like corn and high in quality, identified protein sources (say no to mystery meats!). An absolutely terrific way to improve skin and coat health, and one that often yields fast and dramatic improvement, is to supplement with oils rich in omegas, such as NaturVet's Salmon Oil Gel Caps or Coco Therapy's virgin coconut oil.
Next—and this is key—is regularly brush your dog to loosen fur that would otherwise be shed in your home. Depending on the season, you may well wish to do this daily. Quality bonding time plus less shedding! The brush you use should be based on your dog’s coat type. For long and heavy coats, use a rake brush, which is designed to remove tangles and get into the undercoat. For short-haired breeds, such as the German Shorthaired Pointer (these guys still shed, the hair is just short!), we suggest the Furbliss two-sided, veterinary recomended silicone pet brush that brushes, cleans and massages. ($17, furbliss.com) For long haired dogs use a pin brush. A pin brush is shaped like a paddle and has long flexible pins. A soft slicker brush is great for use on delicate areas like armpits and is only brush recommended for curly coated breeds. And a stripping comb is recommended for wiry coated breeds and is used to strip out the undercoat.
To deal with seasonal shedding, typically most experienced by double-coated breeds such as the Husky, Malamute, Akita, and Chow Chow, a de-shedding tool like the ConairPRO Undercoat Rake is your new best friend, after your dog of course. This tool allows you to remove excess and loose, about-to-be-shed fur from your dog’s undercoat before it falls out naturally all over your house, significantly reducing shedding. It’s also great at removing burrs. (From $11, chewy.com) The amount of fur a de-shedding tool quickly, easily, and painlessly removes is truly amazing. Check out these pictures. ►
And lastly, many breeds, like the Husky, Alaskan Malamute, the Akita, and even the Labrador Retriever, simply shed a lot. (If you’re looking for a breed that sheds less, consider a Poodle, Bichon Frise, Maltese, Yorkie or Chinese Crested.) Investing in a quality vacuum such as the Dyson Cyclone V10 may simply be a key component in dealing with the shed. And after all, what’s a little dog hair compared to all that puppy love and unconditional adoration?
Shedding: What’s normal and what’s excessive
Excessive hair loss or bald patches may be due to one of the following:
- Food-related allergy
- Fleas, lice or mites
- A medical condition, such as kidney, liver, thyroid, or adrenal disease. Cushings, for one, causes tremendously itchy skin and hair loss. Our Rose, one of the Modern Dog office pack, had Cushings and extreme itchiness (along with increased water intake) was one of the first signs.
- Fungal or bacterial infections
- Immune disease
- Obsessive licking
When to talk to your vet
Talk to your vet if any of these symptoms persist for more than a week:
- Bald spots or thinning of coat
- Skin irritation
- Open sores
- Dull, dry hair that pulls out easily
- Incessant scratching
- Continuous foot licking and face rubbing
An underlining health condition could be the cause.
Manage the Shed: 3 indispensible solutions
Contain the hair
(and protect wounds) The Shed Defender prevents your dog from leaving a trail of hair all over the house, car, or office. This lightweight suit can be used in place of a medical cone to cover wounds, or to help reduce anxiety with its snug yet gentle fit. From $40, sheddefender.com
The massaging gloves that de-shed your dog
These miracle gloves quickly and effectively remove about-to-be-shed hair while giving your dog a gentle, relaxing massage. HandsOn Gloves are especially great for dogs that don’t love tradition grooming—it’s like a big petting session that de-sheds! The unique design distributes your pup’s natural oils and promotes a healthy skin and coat. $30, handsongloves.com
Hot Spot Help
Speed up healing. Vetericyn Plus Hot Spot Spray cleans, soothes, and relieves itchy, irritated skin affected by hot spots. The fast-acting spray is designed to provide quick relief by minimizing your dog’s discomfort and decreasing scratching, licking, and biting. $23, vetericyn.com