Perhaps one of the most frustrating parts of being a dog owner is managing the amount of fur your pup sheds throughout the year. If your dog has a long coat or an undercoat, you can be sure to find hair just about everywhere, from your clothes and carpets to even your food.
What’s even worse, though, is when your dog transitions from its normal shedding to an extreme period of shedding when spring begins. “Shedding season,” as it is called, can bring much more hair to your household.
Shedding season may require some special attention in order to help your dog shed as effectively as possible and to keep your house free of tumbleweed-style hair clumps.
What is shedding season?
Your dog’s coat will change depending on the season and the amount of daylight it gets each day. More daylight gives your dog’s body a cue to begin shedding to prepare for warmer temperatures, beginning shedding season.
Shedding season is a period of a few months when dogs shed more hair than usual. While many dogs shed moderately year-round as hair dies and falls out, some dogs will experience more intense shedding in fall and spring.
Springtime shedding season allows your dog to remove its full winter coat to stay cool in the upcoming summer months. Typically, this period lasts from mid-March to May.
Double coated breeds, like German Shepherds, Huskies and Labradors, have two layers of fur and may require special treatment during this time, as they are the most likely to shed seasonally—a process that is called “blowing their coat.” These dogs have a thick undercoat full of soft fur that will shed, as well as the normal top coat of “guard hairs” that other dogs have.
Minimizing hair shed in your home
You may have a system in place to prevent your home from being coated in hair throughout other parts of the year, but shedding season may require some extra steps in order to remain fur-free. Try these tips to help your dog shed more easily and minimize hair deposited around the home.
- Brush a lot: Brushing your dog regularly can help remove dead hair and contain it on a brush for easy disposal. During shedding season, your dog should be brushed once a day. This process is good for many reasons. First, it loosens hair and helps remove it on the brush, which reduces the hair that is shed around your home. Second, brushing helps distribute natural oils that keep your dog’s coat shiny and soft. Finally, brushing is a great bonding activity for you and your dog. You may need to try a variety of brushing tools to find the kind that works best for your dog and its hair.
- Give baths: Give your dog a bath every few weeks to loosen up dead hairs and promote shedding, as well as to keep all its fur clean and healthy. After the bath, dry your dog’s fur and brush it well to get rid of the loosened hair.
- Use special tools: Double-coated breeds may require special grooming tools to get down to the skin and remove extra hair from the undercoat. You may need to use an undercoat rake, which reaches near the skin and helps remove hidden fur and any mats, which is when the shed fur in the undercoat gets trapped and tangled near the skin. Doing this once a week can help remove shed hair faster and easier.
- Visit the groomer: Sometimes, at-home brushings just won’t cut it when it comes to removing as much hair as possible. In these instances, your best bet is to visit a professional dog groomer, who can use an array of tools and best practices to loosen and remove dead hair before you and your pup return home.
- Rely on home cleaning methods: Patience and home cleaning will also be necessary, since there will only be so much you can do to remove fur from your shedding pup. Invest in a good vacuum cleaner with a large dirt trap and vacuum your home regularly to pick up the hair your furry friend continues to drop. Lint rollers and other hair cleanup tools are also instrumental in creating a clean, hair-free home.
As you’re helping your dog get rid of its thick winter coat in preparation for spring, be mindful of the fact that too much shedding can indicate a health issue. Your dog should not be developing bald spots or losing so much hair that its coat seems thin. Always monitor your dog’s shedding during this time and visit a veterinarian if you suspect that something is wrong with your pet’s health.
Otherwise, if the hair shedding seems normal, brushing, bathing and grooming will help you muster through shedding season without getting coated head-to-toe in fur yourself!