Service dogs are indoor dogs. As a result, most of them shed all year around, even the most hypoallergenic breeds. But, there are steps you can take to tame a dog’s coat and reduce the shedding. The science behind shedding is simple. Dogs need to rid themselves of damaged or unnecessary hair.
Most dogs grow a heavier coat to keep them warm during cold winter months and then begin to shed excess fur when the warmer temps of spring and summer creep in. Shedding allows dogs to stay cooler, in much the same way that we change out our winter parkas for light-weight jackets when the weather turns warm. However, too much shedding can sometimes be an indication of a skin irritation, infection, presence of a parasite or the result of a poor diet.
Keep your dog coat shedding to a minimum with these helpful tips:
Brush, Brush, Brush
Regular grooming is your best bet. Routine brushing of your dog is the single most important factor for maintaining a healthy coat. Brushing reduces shedding, keeps the coat soft and clean, reduces matting, and makes it a less conducive environment for flea infestations or parasites. Use a brush that is appropriate for your dog’s type of fur, and follow up the daily brushing with a finishing comb. For extreme shredders, use a deshedding brush.
An important side note: Regular brushing allows you to check your dog for lumps or other medical issues. Done regularly, you have a definite time-line to give your veterinarian, should you detect anything out of the ordinary.
Proper nutrition keeps fur healthy. If your dog isn’t eating the necessary nutrients, his coat will pay the price. Food rich in vitamins and minerals maintains healthy skin follicles that support proper hair growth with a lustrous sheen instead of dull and brittle, breaking or falling out easily.
Plenty of Water
Make sure your dog always has fresh water available. Dehydration leads to many health issues including dry skin. Dry skin often leads to excess shedding.
When necessary, bathe your dog to keep his or her coat clean. After the bath, gently towel dry the coat and, if necessary, use a hair dryer with a cool airflow. Cool air also helps to blow out loose hair from the dog’s coat. Caution: Never leave a dog alone with a hair dryer! There have been many sad cases of dogs who died when the dryer accidentally overheated them.
Add oil to your dog’s diet. This provides omega-3 fatty acid to help condition the skin and provide a healthy coat that shines. This will also help to control shedding. Try adding some food-safe oil to your dog’s food every day. Among dog breeders and show competitors, coconut oil is the current popular additive.
Finally. . . most dogs like to be brushed – even bathed – especially if this was done from the time they were puppies. And, while you may end up wearing more of your dog’s coat than he or she had, this one-on-one experience can be both enjoyable and a special time for bonding with your four-footed buddy.
In appreciation to the following for their contribution to this article:
CASA (Camano Island Animal Shelter)
Pat Brown-John (Dir., All About Obedience, B.C., Canada)
Tere J. Scott (Writer)