Pets shedding may be a big hairy deal—but it is normal. Magical-Dawg leaves drifts of black fur everywhere. Karma-Kat and Seren-Kitty also shed, even if their lighter hair doesn’t show up on the light carpeting quite so much.
Floating fur increases the challenge of keeping dry cleaned apparel a Fido-free zone. Unless you’re a passionate pet lover who considers pet hair to be a condiment, understanding how to tame the hairy mess will keep your pet’s coat and skin healthy and simplify housecleaning.
Why Pets Shed
It’s not the temperature that prompts shedding. Light exposure, either to sun or artificial light, determines the amount and timing. More hair is shed during the greatest exposure to light. Outdoor cats and dogs living in the northeastern United States shed with the seasons, with the most fur flying in late spring for the several weeks during which daylight increases. But house pets under constant exposure to artificial light shed all year long.
Hair grows in cycles beginning with a period of rapid growth in the spring, followed by slower growth, and then ending in a winter resting stage. Mature hairs loosen in the follicles over the winter. In the spring, another cycle of hair growth begins, and new hair pushes the old loose ones out, resulting in an all-over shed.
What Cats and Dogs Shed Most or Least
All cats and dogs shed—even shorthair pets—but some breeds prompt more aggravation. The so-called “non-shedding” curly coated dogs like Poodles just have much longer fur-growing seasons in which hair continuously grows for years at a time. They tend not to lose huge amounts of hair all at once. Shed hairs get caught and held in curly coats so shedding isn’t as obviously left on the furniture.
Shorthair pets like my cats shed just as much but the tiny hairs don’t create furry drifts. “Double coated” shedding German shepherds, Chows, and Persian cats may look moth-eaten when they shed clumps of fur at a time.
Matts, Hairballs & Hotspots
Thickly furred pets develop mats when fur is trapped and tangled next to the skin. Mats are terrific flea habitat and create bruises. Dogs also can develop painful hot spots—a moist bacterial skin infection—from mats. Hairballs develop when the dog or cat swallows shed fur during self-grooming. Find more info here:
6 Tips for Controlling The Shed
You can’t stop shedding, but you can reduce the aggravation to yourself and health risks to your pet.
Groom Every Day. Religious fur care prevents problems and keeps skin and coats healthy. Make sure you groom outside or in an area easy to clean, or you’ll deal with a furry tornado inside the house. Seren-Kitty at age 21 doesn’t groom herself any more, so she relies on Karma-Kat’s help–and mine.
Choose Good Tools. EZ-Groomer (www.ez-groomer.com) is a cheap, light weight, claw-shaped tool that works well to break up established mats and to pull off shed fur. The pricier Furminator FURminator Long Hair deShedding Tool for Dogs, Large (also comes for cats) won’t work on mats, but the close-fitting teeth pull off 80 percent of loose fur. A standard comb, or curry or pin brush also works.
Pet Away Fur. For shorthaired pets that hate grooming but love petting, try rubber-nubbed grooming “gloves” like the 2-in-1 Pet Glove: Grooming Tool + Furniture Pet Hair Remover Mitt Or slip the foot-end of old pantyhose over your hand and pet to pull off shed fuzz.
Target Problem Areas. Pay particular attention to mat-prone areas behind the pet’s ears, beneath his tail, and in the “arm pits” and groin regions. Longhair cats also develop tummy mats.
Take Your Time. There is no rule that says you must comb or brush the entire pet at one setting. Space it out over several hours or days. Most dogs and cats have “sweet spots” they love to have scratched, so finish on the cat’s cheeks or the dog’s chest. End each session with a favorite treat or game so your cat or dog identifies grooming with good things.
Ask A Pro. If you aren’t able to manage grooming yourself, have it professionally done by a groomer or veterinarian. “Lion cuts” that shave wooly pets for the summer can prevent problem mats or hot spots.
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