Shedding excess fur is a natural and important process for dogs, 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.
But 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 dog feeling happier, healthier, and lighter.
Go Beyond the Brush
You probably already know that brushing is good for your dog. It removes excess hair, stimulates the skin, and promotes a shiny, healthy, clean coat. However, for breeds with dense fur -- such as the bichon frise, chow chow, collie, golden retriever, Lhasa apso, Maltese, Newfoundland, poodle, schnauzer, Shetland sheepdog, and Siberian husky -- brushing alone may not be sufficient to prevent tangling and matting that can lead to excessive shedding. Brush bristles aren't equipped to reach the finer, softer fur closest to the skin that is more likely to become matted. The masses and tangles can cause discomfort and skin problems for your dog, even requiring that fur be shaved in some cases.
A deshedder is a grooming tool used to prevent the underlying fur on your dog from becoming matted and tangled. It works its way through the long topcoat to reach and remove the dead, dense, already-loose hair underneath. The outer layer is left undamaged, and the skin becomes clean and free from dirty, uncomfortable masses.
Be aware, however, that this tool is not equipped to cut hair that is still connected. So use it before tangling becomes a serious issue for your pet or after existing mats have been removed.
To use, simply divide the layers of your dog's fur and move the tool, which operates like a miniature rake, across the layers, removing the fur from the tool frequently as you proceed for maximum effectiveness. Then continue the process on a weekly basis for good preventive maintenance, particularly in the spring and summer when pets are more prone to shedding.
Choose a tool option that is best suited for your dog's size, hair length, and hair type. Make sure the tool fits comfortably in your hand for ease of use and the safety of your pet.
How to Reduce Shedding
In addition to a good grooming routine, here are a few ways to help control your pet's shedding.
- Provide your dog with high-quality food. Just as a human's skin is a reflection of what he or she eats, a pet's fur reflects its diet. Check labels for the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutritional adequacy statement to ensure the product offers balanced nutrition. Then consider your dog's age, weight, medical issues, and preferences.
- A few preventive housekeeping measures will minimize your frustration. Invest in some easy-to-wash covers for your furniture and car seats, and vacuum, dust, and sweep as frequently as you can.
- If your dog scratches excessively, check with your vet about allergies or fleas, then treat accordingly.
- Bathe your dog occasionally during the summer months.
- Keep a lint brush at the ready for quick use before heading out the door.