Reviewed and Updated on May 5, 2020 by Jennifer Coates, DVM
Although shedding is usually normal, you’re probably looking for ways to reduce your dog’s shedding so you don’t have to constantly rid your clothes, car, and home of all the hair.
The first step is determining whether the amount of hair that your dog is shedding is normal, or if they are shedding excessively due to a health problem. Here’s what to look for, plus tips for how you can reduce shedding in your dog.
Is Your Dog Shedding Too Much?
What’s considered a normal amount of fur for dogs to shed? In many cases, this will depend upon the breed.
Many people think that long-coated dogs shed more often, but that is not usually true. Most long-coated dogs have shedding seasons when the weather changes,” says Dr. Adam Denish of Rhawnhurst Animal Hospital in Pennsylvania.
Once you have an idea of your dog’s usual amount of shedding, then you can monitor your dog for changes. Are they shedding more or less, or at different times than usual? If your dog is shedding more than they usually do, there might be an underlying health condition.
Shedding Due to Health Issues
According to Dr. Jennifer Coates, a veterinarian in Fort Collins, Colorado, you should be concerned if you see an increase in shedding, particularly when it’s accompanied by:
Patchy hair loss
Signs of generalized illness
If you see these signs, your dog needs to see a veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.
“If shedding is abnormal, such as with thyroid disorders, diabetes, or poor nutrition, it can be helped by improving the health of your pet,” says Dr. Denish. “Animals that have dry skin, dandruff, or skin diseases will tend to have more shedding problems as well.”
How to Reduce Shedding
If you’ve determined that your dog is healthy but just sheds a lot, then follow these tips to help reduce your dog’s shedding.
How to Control Dog Shedding With Diet
Whether your dog leaves a light coating of fur in their wake or clumps the size of small mammals, here are some things you can do to help control their shedding.
According to Dr. Coates, once health problems have been ruled out, a well-balanced and healthy diet can go a long way towards keeping shedding at an acceptable level.
“A poor diet will not supply all the nutrients a pet needs to grow and maintain a healthy coat. Adequate amounts of high-quality protein and fat, particularly essential fatty acids, are needed to reduce excessive shedding,” says Dr. Coates.
When it comes to choosing a dog food, it’s best not to skimp, says Dr. Denish. “The quality of food that your pet eats greatly influences the degree of shedding and the quality of the coat,” says Dr. Denish.
How to Control Shedding With Grooming
A dog groomer is your best resource for controlling your dog’s shedding through grooming.
Mari Rozanski of Plush Pups Boutique and Grooming in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, has been grooming pets for more than 25 years and believes that you’ve got to help keep your pet groomed at home. But how often?
“In a perfect world, I would say [to] brush your dog on a daily basis. It's good for their coat and skin, and it can serve as quality time with your dog,” says Rozanski. “More realistically, brushing your dog at least once or twice a week should help keep shedding to a minimum.”
The Best Grooming Tools for Controlling Shedding
A few basic (and inexpensive) items are all that you’ll need to manage your dog’s shedding.
She continues, “There’s a wide assortment of tools available, but some instruction on choosing the right one is necessary. Usually a groomer or breeder can help with this.”
When to See a Professional Groomer
When it comes to grooming, sometimes it’s best to leave it to the pros.
“Professional grooming every 4-6 weeks is a good way to keep shedding at a minimum and to avoid a mess at home; groomers have all the proper tools and specialty shampoos for shedding dogs,” says Rozanski.
“Bathing at home can be fun, but if the dog is not rinsed or dried properly, or if the wrong shampoo is used, a skin condition can occur. Also, the pH balance for a dog is different than a person, so only dog shampoos should be used,” adds Rozanski.
You’ll still want to brush your dog at least a few times a week in between professional grooming sessions, however.
Keeping Your Home Clean of Pet Hair
If you’re looking to keep pet hair out of your home, you can either pick up cast-off dog hair or keep it from becoming a problem in the first place.
According to Rozanski, it’s always a good idea to keep furniture and other spots that are heavily used by your dog covered with a throw or sheet to make those surfaces easier to clean.
Also, vacuuming is your best weapon in the fight against dog hair. While a conventional vacuum can be used, there are special vacuums with devices and attachments that are designed to deal with pet fur, which can make the job easier.
For quick pickups of dog hair from clothes and furniture, Rozanski is partial to hair rollers (like those for your clothes) from companies such as 3M.
Again, none of these actions will completely eliminate the hair from your home, but they will help you fight it.
Using Air Filters to Control Pet Hair in the Home
Pet hair and dander in the air can exacerbate allergies, asthma, and other conditions. Often, the conventional filtering that comes with heating and air conditioning systems won’t be robust enough to create an easy breathing environment.
There are many standalone air filters you can purchase, but Rozanski says she has had particular success with Aprilaire products.
Be Consistent About Changing Filters
Obviously, frequent filter changes are a must, and for heavily shedding dogs, you might even want to change filters more often than the company recommends.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to stay ahead of shedding is to think ahead.
“My suggestion for most owners is to learn about your dog and the breed before making a decision on adopting the pet. You need to understand the requirements for that pet in terms of veterinary care, nutrition, and maintenance,” says Dr. Denish.
By David F. Kramer
Featured Image: iStock.com/Petko Ninov