Curb the fur in seven simple steps

Patty Khuly, DVM
Published: June 15, 2009
Curb the fur in seven simple steps

Got a feisty fur-ball of a problem? Yeah, me too. My family’s most recent addition nearly drove me to the brink of despair once I realized his dreaded shedding was going to be a BIG problem. But guess what? I learned to curb the fur — in less than two weeks. Here are the seven simple steps I followed to get the fuzz-balls and dust-bunnies under control:

1. Treat any skin disease...

...your pet may suffer from. In my dog Slumdog’s case (yes, that’s what he’s called), the yeast and bacterial infections were secondary to another problem: an overgrowth of demodectic mange and a flea allergy. Treating all four critters reduced his shedding by about 75%. 

2. Cut it off

Many pet owners select (or adopt) pets with shed-prone fur then realize their households are not ideally suited to dust bunnies aplenty. (Allergies, aesthetics, hygiene, whatever.) That’s when they take out the Flowbie or the #10 clipper blade and go to work. The lion cut is most attractive, IMO. This is especially helpful for long-haired cats with heavy hairball issues. Groomers are well schooled in this process (so you don’t have to go it alone if your skill set doesn’t include a way with a set of professional clippers).

3. Brushing... the mainstay of fur collection. And collecting the fur before it has a chance to hit your floors, furniture or clothing is always best. Doing it outside is my approach. And the Furminator is by far the most effective tool I’ve ever found for serious shedding. Dogs who don’t shed much? You won’t get the most out of a Furminator. But it’s magic for some (including Slumdog). Keep a garbage bag handy if you’ve got an arctic-breed dog or a Persian cat. Some pets need it done daily. But they usually love it. For me, it’s so satisfying that it’s really hard to think of it as a chore. 

4. Don’t sweat the small stuff

For the microshedding that will inevitably result: You might want to buy a bunch of 3M tape rollers for your furniture and clothing and a Roomba (robotic vacuum cleaner) for the floor (warning: a Roomba is a bad idea for huge balls of arctic dog fur or for any household where pets occasionally leave “presents” on the floor –– yuck!). Though I haven’t tried it yet, I’ve also heard great things about the new Pledge product for removing hair from where it lodges between fabric fibers in your furniture. 

5. Bathing

Though not strictly necessary for most pets beyond the dirt-loosing, every-couple-of-weeks sort of process, bathing more frequently will help tremendously with heavy shedders. Too bad Though it may mean you need one of those plastic hair-catchers to keep your pipes clear of hairy debris, I promise this approach will help get loose hairs off any coat. Sure, your cat might protest, but consider that bathing is what gets those bigger clumps of undercoat better than most anything else (OK, except maybe the Furminator).

6. Prevent skin disease

Keep those fleas off. Address skin allergies head on. Keep skin healthy with a great diet and some fatty acid supplements (ask your veterinarian about these). 

7. Don’t believe the hype

Finally, you should know that there’s no miracle cure for shedding. All these products that promise you’ll curb the fur in one simple step (with none of the hard work I’ve detailed)? Too good to be true. But then, bathing and brushing is a great way to get in touch with your pets. I’m not sure I’d want a perfect product ... or a perfect pet, for that matter. ;-)

Dr. Patty Khuly

Image: Elena Stepanova / Shutterstock

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