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Can You Handle the Hair?

Posted 05.13.19 by Alison Bradshaw, DVM

Being a pet owner and veterinarian, the struggle is real with pet hair. It somehow makes its way into every imaginable nook and cranny and even somehow drifts into most of my food dishes. We have just grown accustomed to pet hair and cleaning, but clients ask me all the time what they can do to stop pet shedding. If I ever invent a magic pill, no doubt I will be a millionaire.

Shedding fuminator german shepherd

Even though this is probably the obvious answer, brushing is truthfully the best way to reduce hair shedding. It is a natural process for most dogs to shed excessively at different times of the year. Usually this is based on the temperature, but nowadays with a lot of dogs living indoors with heat and cooling; the timing is not always when we think it should be. The process where dogs lose their undercoat, usually in clumps all at the same time, is commonly called “blowing their coat.” My favorite pet brush is the Furminator. It has very small teeth that are great at grabbing and pulling out thick undercoat. The frequency of brushing needed is purely dependent on the type of hair and whether or not the animal is shedding more or less at that time. The more they are brushed, the less hair you will have in your house.

There are numerous anti-shedding products and supplements if you only look online or at the pet store. The active ingredients in most of these products are fatty acids like Omega 3 and 6. These are beneficial for many things including skin and hair coat, so it is possible that some of these help reduce shedding. Another useful tool is to get a good vacuum with a good filter. I have heard numerous great things about robotic vacuums like the Roomba. This takes most of the work out of vacuuming the tumble weeds of hair everyday. Pet bedding also needs to be washed frequently in mild detergent to help reduce allergens, hair, and odors.

Most importantly before an animal is adopted or purchased, research needs to be done on different breeds and hair types to determine the best fit for a household. Typically dogs that don’t have to be groomed, or groomed very infrequently, are going to shed more. These are short-haired breeds like Labrador retrievers. Breeds that shed very little like a Poodle or a Bichon Frise are going to require lots of grooming, usually every few weeks.

Goldendoodle labradoodle groomGoldendoodles and Labradoodles have become extremely popular breeds. A common false belief is that these dogs don’t shed. Some doodles may shed very little, but others have more of the Lab or Golden retriever hair coat and actually shed a good bit. The owner needs to decide how much time and effort goes into brushing, grooming, and cleaning before the ultimate decision is made. This is a 10 to 20 year commitment and shouldn’t be taken lightly. In the meantime I will keep looking for that magic pill.

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