June 10, 2009 -- Spring is prime shedding season -- a hairy time for many pet owners. If shedding is one of your pet peeves, America's favorite vet, Marty Becker, has some advice for how to stop the fur before it flies.
How to Cut Back, Collect and Contain Shedding
Becker said to keep in mind that all breeds shed, though some do more than others.
Long-haired dogs, such as Afghan hounds and poodles, shed less than shorter-haired varieties, such as Labrador retrievers or pugs. This is because dogs with long hair are genetically programmed to keep their coats for a longer time, while those with shorter hair shed more because they keep growing new hair and push out the old.
If you want a short-haired dog that doesn't shed much, consider adopting one that is a mixed-breed, such as a poodle cross or a maltese cross. Be sure to keep their coats trimmed.
If you already have a pet, you can avoid getting hair on the furniture and your clothing by grooming where it's easier to clean up. For example, Becker said he grooms his dogs in his yard and in the winter he does it in the garage.
When giving your dog a bath, put some elbow grease into it. With vigorous shampooing, rinsing, wiping down and combing out, the hair will shed in the tub, rather than your living room.
Products for Grooming Your Pal
The FURminator deShedding Tool ($49.99) will help thin out the coats of both dogs and cats. Combing your pal's hair with the FURminator not only thins out its top coat but it also reaches the undercoat, or the loose dead hair which is a major source of shedding.
The FURminator Double Edge deShedding Tool ($54.95) has twin blades, and the FURminator FURejector deShedding Tool ($54.95) comes with a button that releases trapped hair from the tool, freeing a hand and making it easier to groom pets who can't sit still.
Bissell has invented the ShedAway Pet Grooming Attachment ($29.99) to vacuum up your pet's hair. The brush is like any other you would use to brush your pet's coat, but it connects to your vaccum, sucking up the hair before it hits the floor. The attachment fits all major brands of vacuums.
More effective than a lint brush or sheets is the Pledge Fabric Sweeper for Pet Hair ($7.95). It has two rollers, one sticky and one textured. Roll it on the sticky side to pick up the hair and then roll it in the opposite direction to pull the hair off and trap it. It cleans up the couch, car seat, and pillows.
Dryer sheets are intended to cut down static cling and can be very effective in preventing pet hair from sticking to fabric. You can toss a sheet in with your laundry or wipe down your upolstery with it to get rid of the hair. Similarly, if you rub a balloon over your furniture it will pick up fur because of static electricity.
If your pals travel with you in your car, you can use the Kurgo CoPilot Seat Cover ($34.95), which fits snugly over a car seat and can be cleaned with soap and water or in the washing machine.
Shedding and Your Pet's Health
If your pet is shedding excessively, it could be a symptom of a health problem. For example, hair that covers a rash or sore could hide a skin problem. It's important to watch for excessive flaking of the skin or a change in coat color or quality.
Schedule a visit with a veterinarian if you see bald spots, or believe that your pet is shedding abnormally. It could mean your pet has a hormonal problem, external parasites or an allergy.
Owners' Trouble With Shedding
Shedding is the second biggest drawback to owning a cat or dog, according to the 2009-2010 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association. Only the death of a pet ranks higher, people who responded to the survey said.
For dog owners, 32 percent said shedding was a drawback while 39 percent of cat owners felt the same way.
Of the dog and/or cat owners who said they believe cleaning up pet hair is important, 48 percent said they do it because they want their home to appear clean, 28 percent said they wanted to maintain a healthy environment for their family and 15 percent said they clean to eliminate pet hair sticking to clothes.
Nearly one in five owners of dogs or cats found pet hair in their food in the past three months, according to the survey.