Shedding is one of the top pet owner complaints. According to the 2009-2010 National Pet Owners Survey, shedding is the number two drawback to owning a pet, overshadowed only by the sadness owners feel when their pet passes. Although pet parents wear the love furry companions give them on their sleeve, most would choose to not wear Fluffy to work.
In order to fully grasp shedding and how to reduce it, one must first understand shedding and why it happens, which can be done by looking at a dog’s hair cycle consisting of three stages. The first stage is called anagen, the hair growth stage. The second stage is catagen when hair growth atrophies. The last stage is telogen and involves the hair resting without growth until it is later pushed out by new hair growth. The dog’s coat always looks full as the hair is in a continuous cycle where old hair is pushed out and replaced by new growth. Shedding is caused by the natural falling out pattern of the hair cycle or as a result of friction that causes the telogen hair to fall out faster.
All dogs shed, even those claimed as hairless dogs. Dogs with longer hair are often anagen hair predominant breeds and tend to shed less as their hair is mostly locked in hair growth stage. On the other paw, there are also breeds of dogs that are locked into predominantly telogen hairs and thus are programmed to shed more.
The best approach to finding a less-shedding companion is to look for a smaller sized dog with long hair and keep it trimmed short. The dog will shed less because it’s smaller in size and will have less volume of hair; long haired dogs are triggered to shed less, and with the hair trimmed short, when shedding occurs, it will be significantly less.
For those with a four legged shedding machine already in the home, there are steps that can be taken to reduce hair in the home. Since dogs inevitably shed, the best method for reducing shedding in the home is to have your pooch shed at the time and place of your choosing. Keep the mantra “friction is your friend” when it comes to getting your dog to shed loose hairs. Take your dog to an outside area to be brushed, rubbed and massaged vigorously and use a de-shedding brush, like the FURminator De-shedding Tool. Feed a high quality diet as coat quality is a reflection of what a dog eats with a fatty acid rich diet producing a healthy coat with less breakage.
For hair cleanup in the home, electrostatic products like the Swiffer attract 50 percent more hair than a broom and vacuums are available with special pet attachments to attract pet hair and fit in hard to reach areas.
The staple of hair removal is the sticky roller but there are other products available that have equal strength and added convenience. The Scotch Fur Fighter Hair Removal uses thousands of soft rubber fingers designed to grip and trap hair embedded in upholstery. The Pledge Fabric Sweeper for Pet Hair picks up and traps hair when moved back and forth in side to side motions with the hair removing capacity of 145 sticky roller sheets. Fabric softener sheets used in the dryer repel pet hair from clothes.
Pet owners should contact their veterinarian if shedding has increased substantially or if bald spots occur, as these could be a sign of a deeper health issue requiring medical attention.
Information for this article was taken from The Ultimate Dog Lover, coauthored by Mikkel Becker Shannon, who will be leading two dog training seminars with Second Chance Animal Adoption, August 24 and 25. Classes are $10 each with information and registration available at Second Chance Thrift Store.