By Sandie Lee
We love our canine companions, but we don’t love those doggy-generated fur-bunnies scooting across the living room floor, clinging to our furniture or sticking all over our clothes. Plus, who hasn’t found a stray piece of dog hair in their dinner? Unfortunately, when we have the dog, we also have to take the shedding hair; it comes with the territory. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t take steps to combat all that flying fur.
Start with a high quality diet
The old adage “you are what you eat” can be said about our dogs as well. Nutrition plays a huge role not only in your dog’s inner health, but in its outer [hair] health as well.
If your dog’s food is primarily comprised of fillers such as corn, wheat, and by-product meals, then your dog will most likely have dry, flaky skin and lots of shedding hair. One of the ways to combat shedding in dogs is to feed them high-quality dry kibble that has real meat as the first ingredient. By incorporating a good quality canned food to your dog’s dry kibble you can up its moisture content by 78 % (dry food only has 10% moisture). This is an excellent way to ensure your dog stays hydrated. Plus, make sure your dog always has access to fresh, clean water.
A good balance of essential fatty acids and oils in the diet is very important. They can help your dog with the dry skin that often accompanies a dull coat and shedding problems. A high-quality dog food will already have EFAs in the recipe, but your vet may recommend other supplements such as fish or flax seed oils. If you’re adding liquid oil supplements to your dog’s diet, start slow! Adding too much oil at once can lead to digestive upset.
Giving your dog an occasional treat of people food can also help his coat. Good healthy choices for your pooch include eggs, carrots, apples, lean cooked meat, all-natural peanut butter (make sure it isn’t sweetened with xylitol, which is highly toxic to dogs).
Regular grooming is key
All dogs need to be groomed on a regular basis. This not only nabs those loose hairs before they fall out, but it also stimulates the circulation and distributes the natural oils in your dog’s skin to help keep its coat shiny and healthy.
Designate at least one day a week to brush your dog, and spend enough time to get all the loose hair, untangle the matted bits, and check for any skin abnormalities. Don’t know what brush or grooming tool to use? Here is a short list of the basic brush types:
Bristle brushes look similar to the brushes we use. They are best for short-haired and smooth-coated dog breeds such as chihuahuas and greyhounds.
Slicker brushes have tiny, tightly-packed, short wire pins, usually set onto a rectangular base with handle. These are good for many dog breeds with medium or curly hair, including retrievers and spaniels.
Rakes also contain pins and should be purchased with pins roughly as long as your dog’s fur to ensure that it adequately thins the undercoat. The rake works well on dogs with long hair and thick undercoats, such as collies and German Shepherds.
Deshedding tools are specifically designed to get rid of the excess undercoat. These come in various forms and should be used on heavy-coated breeds at least twice a year.
Giving your dog a bath can be a huge help when it comes to controlling shedding, as the hair is loosened and whisked away by the water and by the post-bath rubdown. However, too much bathing can irritate your dog’s skin, dry it out, and actually lead to more shedding. Ask a professional groomer or your vet about the appropriate bathing schedule for your dog’s breed or breed mix.
Then, there are the fleas. These nasty little critters can not only spread like wildfire throughout your entire home, but the itchy bites also do a great job irritating your dog’s skin and adding to the amount of hair that sheds. Make sure to treat your dog for fleas in the spring and fall to prevent them from using your dog as a feasting ground.
“Love me, love my dog…”
The vacuum cleaner is your best friend
Most house guests probably don’t appreciate that layer of dog fur on their clothes after they leave your home, unless they themselves have a shedding dog. To keep the furballs to a minimum, invest in a good quality vacuum, preferably one that specializes in pet fur (they tend to have extra suction power).
Grandma may have had the right idea when she covered her furniture in plastic; the pet hair slides right off. However, today we may cringe at the thought of the sticky, sweaty covers that made sitting on Grandma’s sofa a challenge. The good news is that now there are many nice furniture protectors that are designed for the wear and tear of having a dog. Even a nice throw blanket on Fido’s favorite spot can prevent lot of hair from getting on your sofa; plus, it can be easily laundered or shaken out when it becomes a mess.
Don’t forget car seat covers! How many times have you been embarrassed when you have to unexpectedly give someone a ride and they end up sitting on your dog’s “hairy” seat? This isn’t fun, so invest in some cool seat covers (or even just a giant beach towel) for your car.
One last tip: this may seem obvious, but getting rid of the hair as soon as you spot it can save a lot of time in the future. Keep a few pet hair removers scattered throughout the house so you can always find one when you need it.
Sandie Lee has been in the writing industry for over 20 years. She hails from a small city in Ontario, Canada where there are two seasons – winter and not winter! Her husband and pets, Milo and Harry, make sure she is diligently writing each day to help bring awesome content to her readers.