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Helpful Hints for Shedding Problems

All animals shed, even us humans. Of course different animals shed differently. Some short haired dogs can shed an amazing amount of hair, especially if they are "double coated" breeds with an undercoat. Some dogs, such as poodles, hardly seem to shed at all when properly groomed. Twice a year or so, most animals go through thier seasonal shedding, and then the problems can get worse for a while. This is also known, among dogs, as "blowing the coat".

 All shedding problems can be helped by regular grooming. If you think your animal is shedding excessively, take him or her to the vet. It can be a symptom of some underlying health problem, such as a thyroid imbalance.

Some ideas:

From Leilah's Mom, Mutt owner:
On a my short haired, single coated dog, I use a "hound mitt", a glove with little nubs on it. I rub it all over, in all directions to work out the hair. Then I use a bristle brush to help get out the loosened hair. I then finish up using a small horse's soft brush, to "dust" her off.

 I was given the suggestion during her first big shed to bathe her, and use the mitt on her in the bathtub with a conditioner, then to do it again two weeks later. It really helped.

 On my friend's Lab/Shepherd mix, with a short, thick, double coat, I used a horse's shedding blade. You can get them at tack stores, feed stores, and mail order. They look like torture devices, but the dog seemed to love it, I guess it scratches his back for him. You don't need a lot of pressure. This thing just pulls the hair right out, I filled most of a grocery bag very quickly.

For my husband's longer haired dog, a Samoyed/Doberman mix, with a thick undercoat, I would first use a plastic horse brush, then a "slicker brush", and sometimes I'd finish with an "afro" comb (the one with the wavy teeth), followed by a flea comb (this was before the new flea products). It took about 15 minutes once or twice a week to keep him matt free. But, during shedding season, those brushes filled up pretty quickly. So, I taught him to accept being vacuumed.

 This dog was orginally terrified of the vacuum cleaner, so I took it very slowly, step by step. He was about 6 years old at the time, and it took a few weeks to train him. I had always used a lot of massage and petting with my free hand when brushing him, and this really helped keep him calm during the training period, he just loved it. (Using your free hand to pet and massage the dog - ear rubs, scratching, whatever they like - helps in introducing the brushes too!). Lots of praise for staying calm made a big difference too, my voice was happy as long as he was.

I usually brushed him in our bedroom, so I just left the vacuum cleaner in there for a few days, and he learned that it won't chase him. I started brushing him near it. It became part of the background to him. I then tried to get him to approach it. I showed him how "evil" it really wasn't, I shook it and slapped it a few times, told him to "get it", etc, until he was biting it playfully. I even put a treat on it for him. The vacuum was turned off for all of this. This was the breakthrough for him, it just wasn't the same monster after that.

 Now came the grooming part. I put the vacuum in the next room, and turned it on, and brushed him in the usual place. After he was comfortable with this, I attatched the upholstery attatchment to a double length hose, and with the vacuum still in the other room, I let the hose lay behind me, making it's noises while grooming him. I ignored that thing behind me, using a "I'm not worried about it, you shouldn't be either" attitude. Again I waited until he was comfortable with this before moving on. I gradually moved the hose closer, occasionally picking it up and putting it back down while grooming him (the massage really helps, don't forget). Once it was closer to him, I gently just barely touched it to him, while still working the massage with my other hand. It was over before he knew it, the monster touched him. I gave him LOTS of praise.

 I slowly touched him with it more and more, eventually working up to using the plastic horse brush in one hand with the vacuum in the other. Now we were in business! The brush would loosen the hair and the vacuum would take it up, and it was very easy to use the vacuum to clean the brush quickly. It got to the point with this dog that he enjoyed his grooming sessions so much, that he "assumed the position" whenever I brought in the vacuum, I couldn't vacuum anything else until I did him first. Some mail order catalogs sell special attatchments for vacuuming your pet.

From Jan M.:
Vacuum the DOG!!

My GSD [German Shepherd Dog] enjoyed being vacuumed with the hand-held hose and brush attachment....and I could rub her pretty vigously and work up quite a bit of hair removal... She didn't care as much for brushing...I think her skin was pretty sensitive.

 Vacuuming worked fantabulously on her! I've been SO lazy with Cinder, or I'd have her used to it too. You would NOT believe how much a Rott can shed....egads and gadzooks!! and oodles of black hair!

From Stacey:
I tried the vacuum thing once....the dogs are terrified, so what I do instead is use a lint roller on them. It works best rolling it against the grain first (against the direction of hair growth), then with the grain. I use several sheets on each dog, and they all love it.

From Den's Mom (with a very long haired dog)
My advice.. keep the dog clean and DRY... Water makes tangles into HARD mats. Always blow dry the dog after a bath.. it keeps it from matting.. and blows out the loose hair.

 Use the proper tools! Slicker brush, rake, metal comb.. and have a sprayer hose attachment in the tub! And use it often! Or take the dog to a groomers regularly so someone with Popeye arms can do it for you!

Excessive shedding could be allergies.. see a vet.

Also.. for cleaning up hair.. there's a new yellow "sponge" thingy on the market.. that really wipes hair off fabric! Love that thing! Lassie sent me one for helping with her web pages! *thanks, Gail!* Keep one of those stored everywhere you spend time!

 And get use to hair... my standards came down.. hehe.. you just have to love your dog. :-)

From Teresa R.:
Recently heard that using a wool cloth (good for double coated breeds that shed unmercifully like a lab), rubbing the dog with it each day.

 Note: In the lab message boards, we just make jokes,,,, Noone who is a neat freak should own a double coated breed, because there is no way around the hair, except to vaccum several times a day.

You can always start a "What you can do with your dog's hair" topic,,, like pillows, making it into thread and knitting a sweater, that type of deal. (Editor's note, here is a link for information on Handspinning Dog Hair)

From Leilah's Mom:
I now have an Australian Shepherd! Quite a difference from my wash and wear Leilah. He's got a fairly big coat for his breed, with lots of undercoat. When I got him, he did have some matted hair (not much though), and scissors took care of those very quickly. I was careful not to cut too close. I found a wonderful groomer who was willing to teach me how to groom him for the cost of a groom ($25). He's got severe fear issues, and probably wouldn't do well if left with the groomer. It was WELL worth it! I learned what tools I need, and how to use them. I use a pin brush to start with, to get out any little snarls and some undercoat. I prefer to brush his coat in all four directions, one direction at a time. I then use an undercoat rake. I hold back hair with my palm against him, and grab rows of what I'm holding with the rake, and rake it back. I work the whole dog this way. Copper is very good about all this, he's got the patience of a saint. This gets out a lot of the undercoat. It's basically a verson of "hand stripping". If I have time, I repeat the procedure with a curved slicker brush. The groomer told me to get a "hard" one (where the wires are stiffer). Then, dull the points by rubbing in on concrete before using it. With Copper, I do all this about once every week or two, and it has really kept the hair down in the house as well as makes him cooler in this warm climate (actually my main concern). I also use a wide toothed comb to comb out around his ears, where he tends to mat a bit. To do everything, it takes about an hour.

 The groomer also showed me how to use thinning shears, I use them on the extra thick fur on his hind quarters, and for his chest feathers. The thinning  shears are used in the direction of hair growth, just slide it along, clipping about every blade length, then start again about 3/4 " away, in the area I want thinnned.  I clipped off all the feathering on his front legs since they collected mud. I figure I don't have to clean them if they aren't there. I also trim the hair on the bottom of his paws, and trimmed along his belly and the bottom of his chest feathers too.   I have a blunt pair of scissors, and am VERY careful not to pull up skin into the scissors when I trim. I don't even worry about getting it close, I just want to get the easy majority off. Close trimming is best left to the professionals. I use my late husband's cordless beard trimmer to clip around his anus, it has a clipper blade that's about 1/2" wide. Not having any tail whatsoever to pull the skin and hair aside, he occasionally gets "clingons" when he poops. He was already trained to accept clippers. I clip about 2 inches around it, and keep the hair alongside that trimmed and thinned. Yeah, it looks a bit strange, but sure beats cleaning off the clingons! This takes about 2 minutes to do. I also use a regular animal clipper (oster) to clip a wide stripe down the middle of his belly down to keep him cooler in hot weather.

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The border graphic and background are from the painting "Copper", and is copyrightę2005 by Joan Berry. Used with permission.

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