The season is upon us, and for breeds of dogs that grow winter coats, spring is extra shedding time. This is because certain hormones in dogs’ blood will stimulate or delay hair growth, depending on the length of the day. So naturally, as the days grow longer, your black clothes get more unpresentable. What can you do to reduce the number of fur balls accumulating in your home? Here are a few ideas:
When a dog’s diet is poor, it will often shed more hair, sometimes even developing a foul, corn-chip or stale-oil odor. Dog owners are encouraged to do independent research on what foods are the best for their companions, but always remember that dogs are carnivores, meat eaters, necessitating a primary ingredient of a specified meat like chicken or beef (not unspecified ‘meat’ or meat byproducts) in the food they eat every day. And make sure you read labels carefully, as even some specialty dog foods only sold in veterinarians’ offices don’t have real meat as the primary ingredient.
Another way to minimize shedding is to make sure your dog isn’t stressed. Factors that exacerbate hair loss include noise, boredom, fear, sudden changes to environment, gaps in food or water supply, lack of visual contact, pain, and anxiety. Hormones come into play again here, as the ones associated with stress can cause a dog to shed, especially on the back and the rear hips, when released into the bloodstream. Canines who are happy have no such problem, and only shed the normal amount.
But of course, the single most effective way to deal with the winter coat as it falls out is grooming. When choosing a brush or rake for your pet, be sure to run it over your own skin. If it hurts or irritates your arm, it will also hurt your dog. Start by petting and talking to the dog, and then brush only in the direction the fur grows. Do not try to yank out any matting you may find. A good way to work out a mat is with your own hair conditioner. Work it in and gently untangle the mat. Continue to groom the entire body, and follow the brushing with a warm bath, during which you inspect for small injuries, ticks, etc. with your fingers, now that the undercoat is diminished. Finally, since shampoo inadvertently left in the fur can cause irritation, use white vinegar to rinse the fur completely, followed by a water rinse.
Dogs deserve to enjoy the advent of warmer weather and longer days as much as people do, so follow these tips to improve their well-being!
[Reprinted from 3/3/2016]