While summer is a stunning time of year, for pet owners it’s a time of pests, parasites and all the pet fur everywhere! Sure, there are some non-moulting dogs and cats, but we’re not all lucky enough to have those breeds, so we’ve gathered some tips to help manage and reduce the annual shed.
We love our pets, but we don’t love finding their hair everywhere so, let’s try to fix it…
Those with hypoallergenic and hairless breeds won’t know the struggle, but when it heats up, most of us with furry friends will find pet hair everywhere. There will be chunks on the carpets, tendrils floating in the air and yes, strands in our food too. It’s a price we pay for our loving animal companions, but do we wish there was less of it? Of course, we do.
Why do pets shed?
We say ‘shedding season’, but nearly all cat and dog coats shed throughout the year – it’s just that some shed a lot more in the hotter months. Either way, it’s essentially the loss of old fur to make room for new growth.
The difference is that some breeds are single coated like Bischon Frise, Poodles and Schnauzers or Sphynx, Oriental Short Hairs and Cornish Rex. And, although no pet is truly hypoallergenic, these single-coated breeds are less likely to affect allergies as there isn’t as much fur and dander released into the air. Double-coated pets shed much more:
- The longer topcoat is what we see, snuggle and stroke.
- The undercoat is the shorter fur that grows around the topcoat strands for extra insulation.
When do dogs’ moult?
Alongside regular year-round gentle shedding, dogs will shed large amounts in late spring to remove the insulating winter undercoat. Then again in autumn to remove the summer undercoat.
When do cats’ moult?
Similarly to dogs, cats shed some fur all year, but mostly in the summer when it gets warm, and in autumn to prep for winter. However, if you keep your cat indoors where it’s temperate all the time, their year-round shedding may be heavier than an outside cat.
If you find your pet is shedding a lot and all the time, or maybe their coat is looking thin with skin showing or bald patches, go and see your vet. Pet coats are the only protection they have from the elements and are a key part of their everyday life, so if anything looks odd or out of character – go and seek help from a professional as soon as possible.
Top Tip 1: Cat and Dog grooming
Grooming is the easiest way to reduce the level of shed fur as it helps remove more waste hair all at once instead of gradually over time. Cats naturally groom themselves regularly (and leave us lovely hairballs – thank you for those furry surprises), but dogs do less, so here are some ways to get ahead of the shed:
- The start of home grooming is brushing. Some pets love it, others hate it, but the slicker brush is your number one defence against hair everywhere. The amount your cat or dog needs brushing will vary, but you should do it at least once a week all year. In the case of summer months, amp this up to a couple of times a week, or if you have a lovely long-haired pet, brush them daily.
Brushing will not only help with their shedding; it also spread their natural oils through the fur to keep it healthy and shiny. It can strengthen the hair follicles too.
- Next up is a bath. Some cats will immediately scratch everything (even your face), hiss and wiggle away as soon as the tap runs, and dogs can be just as nervous too, but it’s excellent for loosening hair and soothing the skin. You can find special shampoos and grooming gloves that work to decrease the amount of shedding, but whether it’s the shampoo or the act of bathing your pet that reduces shedding is still in question.
Aim to bathe your pet every couple of months and use treats and tricks to distract the nervous ones. Alternatively, you could take them to a professional groomer for a spa-like experience.
- For extreme shedders, you can buy a dedicated de-shedding tool like the pros use. They are cost-effective and reduce shedding if you’re trying to save some coin, though it won’t be the same as a trip to a professional groomer.
Top Tip 2: Healthy diets and hydration
Healthy and happy pets will only ever shed the regular amount. It’s the unhealthy and uncomfortable fellows who are most likely to over shed and leave bald or thin patches.
Common reasons for cats and dogs over shedding:
- Stress and anxiety – these are the annoying culprits for additional hair loss in pets. Stress and anxiety can come from anything like a new pet in the home or a house move, even a different food than usual.
- Fleas or parasites – excess grooming and scratching can irritate the skin and leave thin sections of hair.
- Allergies – Your pet could have allergies to food or flea bites or something else, but they can result in rashes and excess scratching.
For starters, keep your pet in tip-top shape by feeding them good quality food that’s high in all the nutrients they need. Some companies create bespoke meals for your pet and ship them directly to your door, which could be handy if your pet has a disease or special condition, but there are plenty of brands available off-shelf in the pet store which will do the job too.
Secondly, make sure to have fresh, clean water available at all times – Dehydration can cause excess hair loss too. Water fountains are a great option for fussy cats and dogs as they tend to come with an internal filter and keep the water moving to prevent stagnation.
Finally, make sure to protect from fleas, worms and ticks all year round – not just in summer. Fleas can cause allergies, and ticks carry all sorts of nasty diseases, so choose a trusted spot-on treatment recommended by your vet.
Speak to your vet if you’re not sure about the optimal food or treatment, and keep an eye on their skin, fur and behaviour for any changes.
Top Tip 3: Ways to look after your soft furnishings and floors
Once you’ve got your eye on your pet and all your de-shedding plans in place, it’s time for some home care. Your poor carpets, cushions and curtains are likely covered in fur all the time, so it’s time to give them a clean.
Some recommend a sticky roller or damp rubber gloves for pulling off pet hair from soft furnishings, but that won’t work on the floor. There’s also a metal pet hair and lint remover going viral at the moment, but it’s a bit small to do the whole carpet.
There’s plenty of professional floor cleaning advice out there, but investing in a vacuum specifically designed for pet hair is your best bet, and a lot of them come with upholstery accessories for cleaning your sofas and cushions. Give everything a good vacuum, and wash any curtains and cushion covers if you can. This will help dislodge any left-over hairs and remove any pesky smells too – just remember to clean the washing machine and filter every once in a while for optimal performance.
These tips should help you see less hair over time, but make sure to do them year-round if you can – it’s the best way to cope with shedding season and give your dog, cat and home some tender loving care.
Debbie is an experienced writer currently working at Affinity Agency in Norwich, UK. She has two loving indoor cats and aims to help others learn and develop however she can.