As the weather’s gotten warmer and the sun stays out longer, you’ve probably found yourself (and your house) covered in more and more pesky animal fur. Shedding in animals is regulated by the amount of melatonin their bodies produce, says Babette Gladstein, D.V.M, a New York City-based vet who practices both traditional and holistic medicine and runs the website animalacupuncture.net. So to prep for the hot days ahead, your furry family member starts shedding the undercoat he put on during the winter months. While there’s not much you can do to stop it at the source, there are a few things that will help keep it under control:
Start from the inside out Dry foods tend to zap moisture from the skin and hair shaft, causing more hair breakage, so look for high-quality wet foods (skip any that contain meat byproducts, soy, wheat, or gluten, as these fillers don’t provide any nutritional value for your pet), and ask your vet about adding an omega-3 supplement to your pet’s diet—the fatty acid can help nourish his skin and coat.
Brush ‘em! Regular grooming is one of the easiest ways to control hair loss, so you should brush your pets daily as soon as the days start getting longer, says Angie Giardino, head groomer at Petropolis, a pet store and grooming salon in New York City. Brush shorthaired dogs with a rubber curry brush in a counterclockwise motion, and for longer-haired pups, use a large-toothed comb going along the nap of the fur. (A mars comb is ideal for the undercoat for very thick-furred dogs). For cat owners, Giardino suggests picking the fur up in small tufts and brushing against the nap of the hair with a de-shedding tool like the FURminator. (Starting at $44, furminator.com)
Wash, rinse, repeat Dry skin can lead to dry, brittle hair—which breaks easily, upping shedding. To help, bathe him every six to eight weeks, recommends Giardino. (Dogs with fur should be bathed about once a month.) This will stimulate your pup’s oil glands, helping to spread natural oils throughout his coat and moisturize the skin (plus remove loose fur). After brushing, massage a natural shampoo into your dog’s coat and skin, then rinse thoroughly. Try happytails’ Sparkle & Shine Shampoo—yogurt powder and honey work to fortify Fido’s coat, while comfrey helps soothe skin. ($14 for 9 ounces, happytailsspa.com)