Tips for dealing with shedding

Published 11:54 am Saturday, March 12, 2016


By Michelle Nelson

Spring is a time for new growth, and that includes your dog’s hair coat. To make room for that new growth, the old coat needs to shed. Although most dogs shed year round, spring shedding is the heaviest. Here are a few basic grooming tips to make spring shedding easier on you and your pet.

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It all starts with brushing and knowing how to select the right brush as different types of brushes work best on different types of fur.

Michelle Nelson is the owner of Ranch & Pet Supply in Albert Lea.

Michelle Nelson is the owner of Ranch & Pet Supply in Albert Lea.

Slicker Brush: Best for removing mats and tangles, curly hair, non-shedding coats. (poodle, Shih-Tzu)

Combs with stiff bristles:  Medium-hair dogs that shed. (retriever, Labrador)

Short bristles/grooming gloves: Smooth-coated dogs (dachshund, boxer)

Long-tooth combs: Long-hair dogs and those with an undercoat (collies, shepherds)

Furminator brushes: A great de-shedding tool for all coat lengths; cuts brushing time down immensely.

Once you have selected the correct grooming brush for your dog’s hair type, you need to brush, brush and brush again. The more you brush, the faster the old coat will come out. Always brush the same direction in which the hair lays. For undercoat hair, brush the opposite direction to pull out the undercoat and then smooth over the topcoat, brushing the way the hair lays again. If your dog has tangles, try to gently remove them with your fingers first instead of ripping through it with a brush. This will make the brushing experience more enjoyable for the dog and easier for you. Some tangles may need to be cut out, and in extreme cases, a complete body shave by a groomer may be needed.

After your dog is brushed completely, now it’s time for a bath. Make sure you use a shampoo that is formulated for dogs, as human shampoos are too harsh for their skin, and, yes, that even includes baby shampoo. Dogs have a different pH than humans and their skin is also a different thickness. Human shampoos will strip your dogs’ hair of its’ natural oils, causing their hair coat to become dull and dry out their skin, making them itch. Also make sure your shampoo says “soap free” on the bottle, as soap shampoos leave a damaging residue on the hair follicles and will also remove topical flea and tick treatments.

When I bathe my dogs, I like to give them a complete fingertip massage. This allows me to feel any tangles I may have missed during brushing, catch any ticks that may be embedded or notice any unusual lumps that may need to be looked at by my veterinarian. Once your dog is completely rinsed, use a super absorbent towel, a Zip n’ Dri (check them out, they are awesome, or a hair dryer on warm to completely dry your dog. Bathing your dog will accelerate the shedding process, causing the old hair to shed out faster, so you will need to brush your dog again after the drying process. Don’t forget to clean the ears, eyes and trim the toenails.

Remember, a healthy dog will not shed excessively; they will have a shiny coat and be free of dandruff and greasiness. If this does not describe your dogs’ coat, then it’s time to talk to your veterinarian or pet specialty store representative. Simple things like changing up your dog’s diet or adding an Omega 3 supplement will make a world of difference in your pet’s coat. A healthy pet on the outside is a healthy pet on the inside.