You don’t need a calendar to know it’s spring: irises are blooming, schoolchildren are frolicking, and your furniture and clothes are covered in dog hair. Spring and fall are the two biggest shedding seasons for dogs. The changing temperatures signal that your furry pal needs to shed his coat so he can grow a new one more appropriate for the season. Dogs with undercoats, like retrievers, German shepherds, huskies and other northern breeds, are the biggest shedders, but every breed loses some hair. That doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to balls of fur all over your house. Here are some tips on how to reduce shedding.
• Brush. A daily, five-minute grooming can remove the excess hair Fido would otherwise deposit all over your new black pants. If you don’t have the time or patience to brush your dog every day, at least try to do it weekly with one of the new shedding rakes that reach all the way to your dog’s undercoat. CJ Puotinen, author of Natural Remedies for Dogs and cats (Gramercy, 2003), recommends Shed Ender and Furminator grooming tools.
• Bathe. A warm bath can loosen hair, which can then be brushed away.
• Vacuum. It sounds strange, but Puotinen says vacuuming her black Labrador, Chloe, with the soft brush attachment really helps remove excess hair.
• Supplement. Oils with omega-3 and -6 essential fatty acids work on dogs just like they do on us—by keeping hair healthy and less likely to fall out. The makers of Shed-Stop, an EFA-enriched oil blend, claim their product won’t help seasonal shedding but can reduce light, year-round shedding by 70 percent. You can also try dumping a teaspoon of vegetable or fish oil on your dog’s food, but beware: It could cause loose stools. Or try giving your dog canned salmon. Be patient though—according to pet products manufacturer Doctors Foster and Smith, it will take at least two weeks and maybe as long as 12 weeks before you see results.
If your dog sheds a lot, all the time, or has bald spots, it may suffer from a more serious problem. Buddy could have a skin infection, ringworm, mange, hyperthyroidism, or Cushing’s disease. Consult your vet if you think your dog is losing too much hair.
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