Dog & Cat Shedding. Bathing, Brushing & Grooming Tips
One of the biggest problems pet owners have is hair in their homes and on clothes. Who wants to constantly vacuum, sweep or apologize to our guests for pet hair on their clothes? Pet hair seems to find its way into every corner and follow us around. It's not easy picking those stray hairs off your suit jacket or dress.
Regardless of the breed there is no way for us to completely stop shedding, nearly every dog and cat shed. Our Pets need to shed to get rid of old, unneeded or damaged hair. Some breeds will grow longer hair in the winter to keep them warm and then shed in the summer to keep them cool. Shedding can also result from skin disorders, allergies, damaged hair or even a poor diet.
Pet owners can effectively remove excess hair by practicing proper grooming techniques and nutrition. Help cut and keep shedding under control by following these tips.
The key here is consistency, don't let the situation get bad and then try to fix the problem in one week with constant brushing. Most breeds will benefit from daily brushing. Regular brushing is essential especially around seasonal changes. Regular brushing will make their coat softer, cleaner and less prone to shedding. It will also help root out parasites which can lead to skin irritation and even more shedding.
For cats, brushing will help prevent your cat from ingesting more hair during self grooming, resulting in hair balls, which can cause serious problems.
Regular brushing not only gets rid of loose hair but it is a good time to see their skin and coat to watch for anything unusual or different. If you notice anything abnormal, such as irritation or bumps, talk to your professional groomers or veterinarian to make sure it is nothing serious.
The brush section of your local pet store is a confusing experience. There are so many different kinds of brushes available, nylon, metal, combs. How do we know which one is best for our cat or dog? Don't guess or ask the store clerk. We want to make sure our brushing is effective by using the right tool. Your veterinarian or groomers can recommend a specific type of brush or comb that will work best with your pet's hair type.
Shedding Tool at Work!
Besides brushing with a regular brush, another great thing to use is a Shedding Tool. A good quality shedding tool is a safe, effective way to gently remove loose and matted hair off your pet. These tools will remove hair that a regular brush will miss. A shedding tool, pictured to the right, will not cut or damage your pet's skin and recommended and sold by veterinarians and professional groomers.
These tools come in different size widths and depths. If you are not buying one from a professional, make sure you buy the right size for your pet.
Normally a weekly combing with a shedding tool is fine for short-haired pets. If your pet has longer hair and it is shedding season a few times a week will be more effective. Before using the shedding tool make sure your pet's hair is completely dry and brush first with a regular brush to remove any mats or tangles. The combing edge of the tool looks like it can hurt but if used right it won't. It is OK to use the shedding tool on the ears and tails, just be sure to use extra care and slow it down around these areas.
As far as the tool itself, try not to drop it which could damage or break the teeth. If this happens you want to buy a new one and throw out the broken one. After using the tool wash it with warm water and a mild soap and make sure the tool is dry before storing it. Some of the shedding tools come with a protective cover for the teeth, make sure you cover them to protect them in storage.
Routine bathing is important and will help control shedding. Purchase a good quality shampoo formulated for your Pet. Never use human shampoo which can dry out their skin and lead to infections, irritation and dandruff. If these things develop it will increase shedding and be counter productive. Cats need less bathing but if their coat is smelly, oily or discolored it is a good time for a bath.
Right before the bath it is a good time to brush your pet and get rid of all the loose hair which will make the bathing process easier. Some pets are very active during bathing, especially if they don't like the water, so it's also a good idea to trim their nails before the bath to prevent possible scratching. I can remember many times having long red marks down my arms after giving a bath.
To dry your pet after the bath it's best to towel dry. If you want to dry your pets hair by using a blow dryer, make sure to only use the cool setting and not high heat. Do your best to keep the air out of their eyes. We know how that feels, they are not any different from us, so make sure you shield their eyes when drying around the head area.
Nutrition and diet are extremely important for a healthier skin and coat. If there is a nutritional deficiency your pet's coat and skin will suffer causing more shedding. Feeding your Pet with advanced nutritional food or vitamins will help keep their coats shiny and skin healthy. Quality pet foods often have the right amount of nutrients so that supplements are not needed. If your pet has allergies or sensitivities try different types of food to see what works best for them. If this is the case, your Vet can recommend what food would be best for your pet or if a supplement is necessary.
Do you take your dog to a groomer or cut your pet's hair yourself?
While shaving their hair off may seem like a quick fix, it is not recommended! Shaving will interrupt the natural shedding cycle and affect their ability to regulate body temperature. Your pets skin is not made for exposure to the elements like the skin of a human. There is a reason why they have a coat of hair all over their body.
No one said that owner a cat or dog was easy work. Proper grooming takes a lot of time and work but will help prevent shedding and keep you and your pet happier and more attractive. Make sure to schedule regular visits to your Vet to help find or prevent medical conditions that cause more shedding from occurring. Feed your pet right and enjoy running your fingers through that nice, clean, soft coat.