At some point, virtually every pet owner will have to accept one simple fact: pets shed constantly.
Year round, pet owners are up against a never-ending onslaught of pet hair to clean up. It sticks to furniture and clothes, and creates decorative furry tumbleweeds in every corner of the home. And while certain specialized breeds, such as Labradoodles, are bred with the intention of being low-shed companions, for most pet owners cleaning up pet hair is an everyday reality.
But why do our pets shed? And is there an easy way to keep on top of it?
Shedding is the body’s ability to rapidly discard old or damaged hair. Growing, or shedding extra hair is also an effective way for pets to protect themselves from seasonal elements. In hotter temperatures, pets tend to shed more of their hair, whereas in colder seasons they will grow a thicker, denser coat.
There are two main contributing factors affecting the volume of hair shed by pets: their health, and the season.
Most furry pets, especially dogs and cats, tend to develop a thicker coat in the winter time. Changes to the coat begin in the fall, and it thickens as the weather grows colder. Then, when the air begins to warm and the days get longer, they begin to blow out their dense winter coat.
Certain dog breeds, such as Golden Retrievers, Samoyeds, Huskies, Malamutes, and Pomeranians are also double-coated; they grow a secondary undercoat during the cold months that acts as a powerful insulating layer. This is why winter-friendly dogs rarely need coats or sweaters, even in the coldest conditions (boots are another issue). Aside from changes in season, most companion pets will always shed to a degree.
Here’s a stat that will blow your mind. The average house cat sheds approximately 75,000 hairs in a single day.
While changing of the seasons may be the most common catalyst for profuse shedding in pets, sometimes it may be an indicator of an underlying health condition. Stress and anxiety, for example, can cause pets to shed more than usual. If your pet shows any signs of anxiety, including separation anxiety, or other symptoms indicating stress, consider a CBD-infused supplement, or herbal calmer to help them remain calm. Another great solution is to consult with a pet trainer or behavioural specialist to help better understand the source of their anxiety. Lower anxiety means less shedding.
Other causes of abnormal shedding may include skin disorders, fleas, ringworm, lice, or mites.
It could also extend to certain types of dermatitis or fungal infections. Immune disorders and cancers can also cause abnormal shedding. If you notice any unusual bumps, rashes, skin patches, or lethargic behaviour in your pet, in addition to higher-than-normal volumes of shedding, seek veterinary attention for a proper evaluation.
Finally, hormonal changes, allergies, and sensitivities may also contribute to abnormal shedding. This could include sensitivities to household cleaners, ingredients in food, scented air fresheners, and even grooming supplies. If you suspect this may be the case, speak to a pet health professional to determine the best course of action for eliminating your pet’s symptoms.
So how do you keep on top of shedding?
While normal shedding can’t be prevented, it can be reduced considerably. First of all, be sure to brush your pet regularly. This quickly removes a large amount of loose fur. For best results, use a brush designed for your pet’s specific coat type. Also, brush your pet outside whenever possible. This prevents fly-away hairs from engulfing your home.
Next, ask your groomer or pet health professional for recommendations on products that work best with your pet’s fur type. Topically, there are anti-shedding shampoos on the market that can help to reduce shedding. Skin and coat supplements, like fish oils, zinc, or sprouted seeds can also work wonders on dry, flaky coats.
Finally, good old fashioned cleaning. While there are pet-specific vacuums on the market, really any vacuum will suffice. However robotic vacuums like the Roomba can make hair collection much more convenient.
If you live with pets that shed, you should plan to vacuum a few times per week to stay on top of pet hair. Pay particular attention to areas your pet frequents, such as pet beds and couches.
There are many joys of pet ownership, and unfortunately, shedding is not one of them. By taking steps with the right equipment, and understanding the grooming requirements of your pet, it’s not really so bad.
When I look at loose pet hair on my clothes, I just smile and give thanks I have pets in my life. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Brandon Forder – also known as The Pet Expert – is vice-president of Canadian Pet Connection, a family-owned and -operated business located in Meaford. He has over twenty-five years’ experience specializing in pet nutrition, behaviour, and healthy pet lifestyles. Canadian Pet Connection is an industry leader committed to providing their clients with the highest levels of personal, attentive service. Learn more at www.CanadianPetConnection.ca.