Special to the News Messenger
While some dogs shed year-round, others shed seasonally during fall and spring months, in preparation for winter and summer weather. Although shedding is a natural process, there are ways to reduce shedding and keep loose hair to a minimum, which can improve your dog’s skin and coat health.
Harmony Diers, a veterinary technician at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, says that reducing a dog’s shedding begins with grooming.
“Ideally, brushing your dog at least three to four times a week for 5 to 10 minutes can help soften your dog’s coat and reduce the amount of hair that is shed,” Diers said. “You should also consider bathing your dog weekly during shedding season and two to three times a month during the months they shed less.”
Choosing the best type of brush can help reduce shedding as well.
Diers recommends brushes with metal or plastic-tipped wire pins and combs for short-haired dogs; dogs with thicker coats would benefit from brushes specifically made for deshedding. For curly-coated dogs, a slicker-style brush, characterized by a flat head with rows of wire pins, would work better.
“Grooming tools are not one size fits all,” Diers shared. “Choose the most comfortable option for your dog and their specific coat type.”
Certain dog breeds that have continuously growing hair need professional haircuts to keep up with shedding. Groomers have access to professional tools and brushes that make deshedding an easier task, so taking dogs to the beauty salon is the better option for some.
“Many dog owners take a hybrid approach of bathing their dogs at home and taking them to a professional groomer on occasion,” Diers said. “The most important thing is that your dog gets routine bathing and brushing.”
Choosing the right shampoo will also reduce shedding, skin irritation and dry, flaky skin. The best shampoos are those without chemicals and artificial colors; instead, Diers suggests using shampoos that include all-natural ingredients such as oatmeal, chamomile, aloe vera, olive extracts or lavender. These shampoos can benefit a dog’s health by maintaining their skin’s normal pH balance and essential skin oils.
She also recommends consulting with your veterinarian to discuss vitamins, supplements and dietary modifications that may help improve your furry friend’s coat.
“Some veterinarians recommend omega fatty acid supplements to reduce excessive shedding and promote healthy skin,” Diers explained. “A well-balanced, high-quality diet — including those containing omega fatty acids and biotin, a B vitamin — will benefit your dog’s skin and coat.”
Finally, dogs may shed excessively or have a dry coat and skin because of a medical condition.
“Such conditions include flea or tick reactions; allergic skin conditions caused by environmental factors (pollen, grasses, etc.); food allergies; an unbalanced diet; or fungal, bacterial, and yeast infections,” Diers said. “These problems typically won’t resolve without intervention, so owners should consult their veterinarian if they suspect one of these conditions.”
Even though excess hair can be a nuisance during shedding season, owners have different options to reduce the shedding whether it is finding the best type of brush, selecting the right shampoo, or adding helpful nutrients to their pet’s diet. Finding what works best for your pet will keep them happy and healthy as the colder and warmer months approach.
— Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be found on the Pet Talk website. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to [email protected].