Have a merry, not hairy, Christmas

Published 10:17 pm Saturday, December 11, 2010

Next to flea problems, shedding is one of the most common complaints pet owners have. Nearly all pets, cats and dogs alike, shed.

Some breeds, with thick undercoats, shed more than others. Unfortunately there is no way to completely stop our pets from shedding.

We are able to control the amount of shedding and effectively remove large amounts of the loose hair during the grooming process.

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Shedding is a pet getting rid of old, damaged hair. Dogs grow a thicker coat in the winter and then shed off that excess hair in the spring and summer.

That does not mean that shedding problems are limited to the spring and summer. Dogs shed broken and damaged hair all year long. If your dog has a medical condition, such as allergies, this may cause him to shed excessively. There are some ways to help reduce shedding.

First, the single most effective way to reduce shedding and ridding your pet of damaged hair and undercoat is brushing. Brush your pet every couple of days or better yet, daily.

Not only does this reduce shedding, it will make his coat softer and keep it from becoming matted and tangled. Be sure to use the proper brush for your breed of dog. For most breeds we recommend a slicker brush.

A slicker brush has a rectangular head and many fine stiff bristles. If you are unsure of the correct brush to use on your pet’s coat, ask your professional groomer, veterinarian, or quality pet store employee.

Believe it or not, a good quality pet food will make a big difference in the amount of hair your pet sheds. I prefer to feed our dogs a natural dog food with no byproducts. Consult your veterinarian for the best food for your pet.

If you suspect that your dog has an allergy, a visit to the vet is a must. Without proper diagnosis and treatment the constant scratching and digging will only make the problem worse.

If fleas are the culprit of scratching, get it under control. There are many quality flea treatments and preventatives.

If you do not like the sound of regular brushing, you may want to consider keeping your pet’s coat clipped short. Many owners of even short hair breeds, such as a Labrador Retriever and Pugs, have their dogs shaved to reduce shedding. Keep in mind that shaving your dog does not eliminate shedding; the hair that sheds is just a lot shorter than before.

Regular bathing and grooming is essential. Bathing in a quality oatmeal shampoo is recommended. During your pet’s bath, be sure to massage your pet with your hands or a rubber brush to loosen dead hair.

After the bath a forced air dryer should be used to release the dead hair from your pet. This can be done at home or by a professional groomer.

Other than controlling your pet’s shedding, you can control the environment. You can use things like couch and chair covers for easy cleaning. Lint brushes are a must when living with pets. Also, the regular use of a vacuum cleaner will make a healthier living environment.

By implementing regular brushing and grooming, you will see a great improvement of the amount of hair lying around.

Also, regular veterinarian visits and paying a little extra for a quality food will keep Fluffy feeling great and shedding less.

Remember, every dog deserves to be treated like a show dog.

Tony Barker, The BARKer Shop