Shedding 101

Dr. Baker

                                         Bob Baker, DVM

Everyone that has a pet dog or cat knows that they shed hair.  While this is most often not a problem for the pet, it can be a problem for owners for the aesthetic displeasure of having a “hairy home” or even more serious for those with pet allergies.

Truth be know, most people that are allergic to pets are mostly allergic to the dander, or shed skin proteins rather than the hair itself.  Techniques used to minimize shedding problems are helpful though to people with pet allergies.

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There are some dogs and cat breeds that are considered “low shedders.”  There are some dogs that shed smaller amounts of hair continuously like people (yes we shed too!), and certainly we’ve all experienced the seasonal “blowing of coat” where there is fur flying everywhere.  There are also the cats and dogs that develop hair mats, big thick clumps of fur that can grow to enormous proportions.

So how can I manage my pet’s shedding?  Well first of all, there is no magic cure for shedding.  There is no spray or food additive that will stop this naturally occurring condition.  But here is a straightforward plan that will make your world a less hairy place.

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  •  Brush your pet.  The more hair that ends up in the brush, the less will end up in the  nvironment.  How often would depend on your pet, use some common sense. There are also different types of brushes and combs for different types of hair coat. Try to make it into a positive enjoyable experience for both of you
  • Feed good quality diet. We at Baring recommend the Hills Diets. 
  • bulldoginbathBathe your dog (and cat) as needed. Bathing helps remove dead hairs, and keeps the remaining coat clean.  Pets will normally shed a great deal during and right after a bath as the dead hairs come loose.  Be sure to use a shampoo for pets, not human shampoos…wrong pH.
  • Have regular checkups. Many diseases can affect the skin and hair coat. Regular visits to your veterinarian will help identify problems early, and provide more effective treatment.
  • Problems: Under no circumstances should there be areas of bald skin during a normal shed.  This is called alopecia, and it is not normal.  If there is a rash, itchiness, or odor from the skin, those problems need to be investigated.  Also, some pets that have very heavy coats, or get matting of the fur, shaving becomes an option.  Be careful of sunburn though!

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