I canít even count the number of times Iíve been rubbing my black lab, Shadow, and pulled my hand away only to discover that Iíve become wolf-woman I thought now that summer is over, shedding would decrease, but it turns out that dogs can shed just as badly in the fall! Shedding is a natural part of owning a dog and, with the exception of a select few, a universal issue owners have to deal with on a daily basis.
I have the blessing and curse of owning two dogs, one black and one with light yellow fur; this means there is nothing in my house that helps camouflage the massive amounts of fur that they shed during the hot months, and then in the cooler months making room for their winter coats. However, the bright side to my shedding woes is that I have learned quite a bit about reducing the amount of fur I have to deal with while still protecting my pups.
Shaving and Grooming
To complicate my issue, Shadow has thick black fur, while Milo (Original names I know) has short pale yellow fur and they both require different forms of care for their coats. About twice a summer I take Shadow to a professional groomer to be brushed, washed, and groomed. I want to stress that I take him to a professional groomer, because there are some very specific things that should and should not be done while shaving a dog:
- Leave at least 1 (one) inch of fur. Cutting any shorter risks leaving your dogís sensitive skin exposed to the sun, reduced ability to regulate temperature on cool nights, and the chance of the undercoat being damaged due to exposure.
- Be very cautious when considering shaving an older dog; their fur doesnít grow back as fast or as healthy as a younger dogs would.
- Have the right tools. You can buy clippers that are good enough for humans at almost any supermarket, but with thicker coats require specialized clippers. Anything less and you are running a very high risk of hurting yourself and your dog.
- Keep the clippers cool. We may be able to go to a stylist and have our entire head shaved without taking a break or even warming the clippers up, but our dogs are another story. Clippers have a tendency to get very hot when grooming a dog and itís important to keep them oiled and cool to avoid burning and pulling your dogís coat out.
Always consult your veterinarian before deciding to have your dog shaved and then make sure you hire a professional who is able to handle your dog and groom them in a safe and effective manner. If shaving isnít for your dog, there are other ways to reduce shedding while keeping your dog safe and cool.
Keeping Cool Without Shaving
Dogs donít regulate their temperature in the same manner as we do; their coat is designed to insulate them both from the cold and also to encourage air movement near the skin to keep cool during the summer. While a fan might be sufficient to cool us, look up your dogís breed and use the tactic that best suits their breed. Shadow is shaved about twice a summer, but Miloís shedding is controlled pretty well with some of the following methods:
- Regular bathing. Milo and Shadow get bathed about once a week with doggie shampoo (Donít use human shampoo the Ph Balance is wrong for a dogs skin and fur).
- Find a brush that is appropriate for your dogís coat length and type; brush them before and after their bath. Shadow needs a Furminator to get to the thick undercoat, but Milo only needs a Curry Comb to get the dust and loose fur off.
- Feed them the proper food. A dog with a healthier diet will have a healthier coat and thus less shedding. Fish oil has been shown to benefit the skin and coat and is safe to use as a supplement to their normal diet.
Finally, if youíre really worried about shedding there are a few dogs such as the Xoloitzcuintli (Chose it purely because of its name) that donít shed or shed very minimally. This should be considered before adopting a dog as the vast majority you find at shelters and locally are likely to shed an average amount, thicker coated dogs shed more than average, and short haired dogs shed, but it is much less noticeable. For any of these breeds and shedding types, follow the tips I provided and youíll have a much easier time managing your dogís shedding rather than cleaning everything they brush against.