Help! My dog sheds like crazy! As most dog parents will tell you, pet ownership isn’t just cold noses, sloppy kisses and vigorous tail wagging—it’s also dealing with pet hair. But when the shedding goes from a manageable amount to epic proportions, it’s time to ask for help—as one Pet Assure reader did this month.
Dear Pet Assure,
What can be done to prevent a dog from shedding so much? There’s fur on my pillow, in my coffee cup, even on my toothbrush!
With the exception of fur-free breeds such as the Chinese Crested and Mexican Hairless, all dogs shed to some degree. While the Bichon Frisé, Schnauzer and Poodle shed very little, heavily double-coated breeds like the Samoyed, Husky and Border Collie shed a great deal. It’s a year-round natural process, though it does get worse in the spring and fall months. Fortunately, there are measures you can take that may minimize the amount of loose fur invading your home.
Change your dog’s diet. Any sort of nutritional deficiency can contribute to an increase in shedding as your pet’s body uses available nutrients to maintain critical systems at the expense of the skin and coat. Over time, chronic deficiencies can shorten the growth phase of his hair cycle—causing him to shed hair more frequently. Switch him to a dog food with a higher quantity and quality of dietary protein and fats. It can be difficult to decipher pet food labels, so consider asking your veterinarian for recommendations.
Supplement with additional fats. Some experts recommend supplementing your dog’s diet with extra virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, safflower oil, egg yolk, lard or bacon fat. Small amounts may be added to your dog’s dry food daily to improve skin and coat health, reducing shedding. You could also try Vitacoat, a fatty acid supplement formulated specifically for dogs.
Brush him regularly. Daily brushing is the best way to keep loose hair off your furniture and floors. If your dog has a short, smooth coat, try a medium bristle brush with closely spaced bristles. If he has a short, wiry coat, a slicker brush is your best bet. Brush dogs with medium to long coats with a pin-brush, using a slicker brush to remove mats and eliminate tangles. Dogs with heavy undercoats require a firm bristle brush with wide-spaced bristles. Again, a slicker brush is essential for tangles and mats.
Take him to the vet. Regular check-ups are important whether your dog sheds a lot or not. However, there are numerous conditions that can cause excess hair loss, and you’ll need a veterinarian to diagnose them. These include hormonal imbalances, autoimmune diseases, some cancers and infections.
Shedding is a part of every pet parent’s life. We hope these suggestions help you minimize its impact on your home. If you've found an effective remedy that is not covered above, please share your story in the comments.