Shedding Woes, Part 2: Tips on Managing Blowing Coats

Last week we explained the finer points of shedding, and more specifically, the huge annual or bi-annual event termed “blowing coat” experienced by double-coated dog breeds. Whether or not you have a dog that blows out his undercoat this spring, if you have a dog, you have dog hair issues. So, to make your life a little less hairy, the following tips will help you keep the flying fur under control (and your vacuum cleaners in good working order).

Simply: Brush, Wash, Brush, Repeat.

To expand upon this, read on:

1) Consistent grooming. The dog hair is going to fall out one way or another, and for a few reasons, it is best to remove it yourself by brushing.  The more hair YOU remove, the less you will see tufting and wafting by, all over your house. During shedding season, it’s best if you can brush your dog once a day, at least. For those dogs that blow out their coat, you could probably spend all day brushing, amidst a continual fur explosion!

Pet hair can also clog air vents and heating ducts, causing a great deal of respiratory ailments and allergies, so make sure you get your air ducts cleaned annually if you have dogs and/or cats. Better yet, invest in a good quality air purifier for at least your bedroom, and have your air ducts and dryer vents checked and cleaned in direct proportion to the number of animals and the volume of fur that you have.

2) Brushing, Brushing, and more… Brushing: To avoid or at least reduce the build up of dog hair in your house, air vents, and in your furniture and rugs, it’s best to brush out your dog outside. Brush a couple of times a day, or as often as you can, with a few different kinds of brushes. The best kind of brush to use for a double-coated dog shedding his undercoat is a double-row undercoat rake with rotating teeth. This will penetrate through the thick coat, removing only the loose undercoat fur, leaving the exterior guard hairs untouched and intact. Many people also love the FURminator, basically, another form of an undercoat tool that is designed to grab and remove the loose undercoat without cutting the coat.

Brushing out your dog’s coat, contrary to many people’s belief, is not a matter of vanity. It is important for your dog’s health as well as for your own health and housekeeping that you keep the fur under control! Though nature intends for this coat to be shed, if it’s not helped along by brushing, the dead hair can easily get matted and caught in the rest of the coat, which can attract fleas, mites, and ticks, as well as being a cause of skin irritation and pain on its own.

3) Bathe your dog! For a step-by-step guide on how to bathe your dog, see our post on this topic! Many double-coated dog owners bathe more frequently than usual during coat-blowing season, since bathing helps to speed the shedding process by loosening the undercoat that hasn’t shed out yet, so it’s even more essential that you use a soap-free, non-irritating, additive and paraben-free shampoo (you’ll be safe with any of earthbath’s “flavors”) if you’re washing often. One of our Facebook fans, who is also a professional dog groomer and an earthbath-exclusive user gave us her secret regimen for managing excessive shedding: “First, de-shed in the tub with a slicker, then a single rake, double rake and finally a comb while the shampoo is on. Rinse, then put in conditioner, massage in, and use a high velocity blower right near the skin to loosen up any other hair that is ready to go,comb again and rinse. I use the High Velocity and stand dryer to dry. This prevents all the hair and dander flying all over the place and getting into the lungs. It is also always better for the coat and less damaging to brush it out when wet, rather than brushing dry hair.” Great tip!

4) Condition and loosen mats with coat-conditioner or conditioning spritz: We love earthbath’s creme rinse and conditioner and our Puppy spritz in cherry-scent! After you moisturize any tangles or mats, use a mat-breaker which is specially designed “comb-like” tool with blades that easily cuts through the mats evenly and painlessly (if you use it correctly), so chunks of fur are not left missing, and your dog remains comfortable and pain-free.

5) Give an Omega-3 fish oil supplement daily or add a tablespoon of olive oil to your dog’s dinner. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for a healthy coat and skin, not to mention, really great for joint health, so Omega-3s are wonderful, multi-functional supplements to add! Some people claim that Omega-3 fatty acids even reduce shedding because it helps keep the fur healthy. Just make sure you get the most natural form of Omega-3, with DHA. My dog eats Omega-3 capsules like a treat (I don’t know how!) but if yours does not, I would advise going the olive oil route, or inserting the pill in a pill pocket or piece of cheese!

This isn’t snow… it’s the fur a Siberian husky shed while he blew coat! It may be nice to know that all of this fur could actually be used, rather than thrown out. How? You can donate it to be used to clean up oil spills. After the Gulf Oil Spill, we found out that an organization called Matter of Trust collects donated hair and fur to create “booms” and large mats which are used to soak up the oil from oil spills (many of which we never even hear about, including motor oil runoff in our waterways).  Hair and fur are actually among the most effective materials that soak up oil.