Controlling the amount of fur flying around the house is all about knowing the ins and outs of your pet's shedding cycles and keeping their coats in good condition.

By Karen Asp
Updated September 13, 2019

One of the few downsides of owning a pet is the seemingly endless struggle to remove hair from household furniture, clothing, rugs, car seats—well, you get the idea. Shedding excess fur is a natural and important process for pets, particularly for breeds with dense hair. Shedding allows them to rid their bodies of old, damaged, and excessive hair. It can also be a red flag for you that signifies a health or emotional issue that needs attention, such as allergies, stress, or a poor diet. Read on to find out what you need to know about your pet's shedding and the best tools to use to keep it under control.

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1. Know Your Pet's Shedding Patterns

There are two shedding cycles. One is seasonal and dependent on temperature, says Brendan Russi, D.V.M., with Banfield Pet Hospital in Vancouver, WA. Cats and dogs typically have a growth phase in fall (to build a thick coat for winter) then shed in spring. Experts often refer to the growth and shedding phases as “blowing the coat,” and they can each last one to two months. Another shedding cycle happens continuously as dogs and cats lose a smaller amount of hair along with dander and dead skin cells, says Chris Reeder, D.V.M., dermatologist at BluePearl Pet Hospital in Franklin, TN. If you see changes in your pet’s shedding patterns, talk to the vet; it could be a health issue.

2. Groom the Right Way

Brushing daily removes excess fur and dander so it doesn’t accumulate and shed in a huge bundle. Brush in the same direction as the fur grows: from head to tail then down the legs. Cats are notoriously finicky about being brushed, but it’s important to try because then they have less fur to groom and fewer hairballs. Start with short sessions, brushing where your cat likes to be petted. Regular baths with a soap-free shampoo no more than weekly (for cats, too, if you can) also reduce shedding; wait to brush until fur is dry.

3. Pay Attention to Diet

Nutrition plays a large role in the health of your pet’s skin and fur. Pet foods labeled for skin support usually have added vitamins like A and E, as well as nutrients like essential fatty acids (EFA), that help keep your pet’s skin and coat healthy and their shedding cycles normal. Talk to your vet about what nutrients to look for when purchasing pet food.

4. Minimize Shedding with Tools

Shedding can be managed and minimized. A good, easy-to-use tool sometimes called a "deshedding tool" is available; when used routinely, it can help reduce shedding and leave your pet feeling happier, healthier, and lighter. You can also invest in gloves for removing excess fur, and jackets/onesies made to catch fur to keep certain spaces clean.

Image courtesy of FURminator.

This brushlike tool reaches through the topcoat to remove the loose undercoat. Available for short and long coats.

Buy It: Undercoat deShedding Tool, from $35, FURminator

Image courtesy of Shed Defender.

The onesie contains shedding for short periods (say, in the car) and doubles as an antianxiety wrap to keep your pet calm during fireworks and thunderstorms.

Buy It: Shed Defender, from $40, Shed Defender

Image courtesy of HandsOn.

These textured gloves remove excess fur when you’re bathing and brushing your pet. Or use them for a little pet massage.

Buy It: HandsOn Gloves, from $25, HandsOn