Cat and Dog Shedding: A Guide to Combating the Problem of Excessive Pet Hair
Cat and dog shedding can be a real nuisance. Read Petside's guide to pet shedding and arm yourself with the knowledge to combat the problem of excessive pet hair.
Excessive cat and dog shedding probably has you thinking it's impossible to rid your house of pet hair for once and for all. It's on the couch. It's all over your nice black pants. It's drifting across your living room floor like tumbleweeds on the prairie.
Pet hair, supplied by the furry friend you love. So what is the clean freak to do when it comes to dealing with that annoyingly persistent shedding that threatens to take over your furniture, your floor, your car... even your wardrobe? In order to reduce pet hair, we must understand shedding.
Why Do Cats and Dogs Shed?
Shedding is a natural process through which animals lose their existing coat and allow a new coat to come in. All fur-bearing creatures shed—including humans—although there are some cats and dogs that don't shed much (or at the least shed less than others).
While there always seems to be an ample supply of pet hair on the couch (a phenomenon we'll address below), it is important to understand that dogs and cats do not continuously grow new hair. Instead an animal's hair grows in cycles with a growth phase, a transitional (shedding) phase, and a resting phase.
These cycles are controlled primarily by the amount of light that they are exposed to, as well as the change of seasons, stress, health issues and lifestyle.
When Do Pets Shed?
When left in the hands of Mother Nature, animals typically grow new coats in the early spring and late summer months, followed by the shedding phase as the old coat falls out in the late spring and early fall months.
During the middle of summer and the middle of winter, the coat is generally in a resting phase where shedding is minimal.
However when a pet lives inside the home, this natural cycle is disturbed as the animal is constantly exposed to changes in temperature and lighting that are in direct conflict with what nature has evolved their bodies to handle. In the summer months when it would naturally be hot, the indoor dog enjoys air conditioning, and during the winter when a dog's brain expects it to be cool, we have central heat.
The house pet also lives in a world of artificial interior lighting that keeps their world illuminated even when it's supposed to be dark (at night). Because an animal's coat growth is also affected by the amount of light they are exposed to--called the photoperiod--it's no wonder that a pet's natural shedding cycle is disrupted and they tend to shed all year round.
Fortunately there is an ever-growing array of deshedding tips, tricks and tools to help handle the hairy attack.
Head Off Cat and Dog Shedding with Grooming
While it is impossible to prevent a dog or cat from shedding, it is possible to reduce the nuisance unwanted hair can cause. Keep in mind that the hair is going to fall out no matter what, so our goal is simple--to remove any loose hair from pets before it falls off and takes over the house.
Regular brushing is one of the best ways to manage pet shedding and will greatly reduce the unwanted hair all over your clothes, carpet and furniture. How often should you brush? Short-haired cats and dogs benefit from weekly brushing while most medium or long-haired pets may need grooming several times a week if not daily. Brush only until you can't pinch out a tuft of hair.
A plethora of grooming brushes and combs await pet owners, however brushing a super hairy dog can be exhausting and messy. Consider letting your vacuum do the work with Bissell's Pawsitively Clean Yowza pet grooming vacuum tool that attaches to all major vacuum brands for quick and easy pet grooming. The shedding blade grabs loose hair and the vacuum suction captures the flyaways as you groom.
Bathing your pet can also be a helpful prelude to a serious grooming session, softening the coat and helping to release the maximum amount of hair. Most experts don't recommend bathing your pooch too often (you risk drying out your dog's skin), or bathing your cat at all, unless kitty is extra dirty.
Defend Your Home and Wardrobe from Cat and Dog Shedding
Finally, rid your home and wardrobe of excess pet fur by following these simple tips:
- Consider restricting pets to certain rooms of your home and use allergen-resistant covers on mattresses and pillows.
- Choose leather furniture as pet hair does not stick and can easily be brushed off. If you must choose fabric furniture, consider denim and suede--both of which are easier to remove pet hair from than fabric furniture is--or put a towel on your pets favorite place to sleep.
- Keep your closet door closed and be sure to put clothes away when you aren't wearing them.
- If your dryer has a lint trap, it will catch a lot of pet hair while your clothing is in the dryer. Clean the lint trap after every load and use a fabric softener sheet to increase its effectiveness.
- Keep a lint brush or lint roller by the door or in your car so you can quickly rid yourself of any pet hair on your clothing on the way out of the house. Rubber gloves, particularly those with ridges, and damp sponges also pick up pet hair fairly well.