How to Keep Pet Fur Under Control

If your entire wardrobe and all of your home furnishings are accessorized by clots of pet hair, you may despair of ever being fur-free while you have indoor pets.

But there are solutions besides ordering lint brushes by the caseload. Here is some expert advice about why Fido or Fifi may be shedding excessively—and what you can do about it.

Seasonal shedding

Fall and spring are prime times to see a dusting of fur on your floor, couches and car seats as your pet sheds its seasonal undercoat. Outdoor pets may be more susceptible to seasonal changes (as well as changes due to the number of daylight hours), but these cycles impact indoor pets as well.

The solution: Brush and bathe your dog or cat as appropriate for the breed before the temperatures change. A humidifier inside the house may also help a pet whose skin is dry come winter. And remember, this kind of shedding will typically pass fairly quickly.


Stress signs

Your dog or cat may shed more when en route to the vet or the groomer, or even during a positive stress like a trip to doggy daycare or a new baby joining the family.

The solution: Take time to figure out what kinds of things stress out your four-legged friend the most, and be proactive. An extra blanket or sheet in the car or on the furniture can help remove some of that extra shedding during a stressful time. A little extra exercise during tough times might help too.


Grooming gaffes

If you’ve been neglecting baths and brushing, you may be seeing more fur on the floor. Improper grooming for your breed may also cause an increase in shedding.

The solution: Find a reputable groomer. Even if you want to DIY, talk to a groomer or other professional about the best ways to take care of your pet’s coat. Brushes like the FURminator are excellent tools for removing undercoat, but they need to be used according to the directions and in moderation. And don’t be alarmed if a bath causes a brief increase in shedding; that’s just all the hair you washed loose.


Dietary culprits

Pet foods with a lot of filler ingredients, rather than whole meats and vegetables, can be harder to digest, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and can contribute to additional shedding. So can foods with an ingredient to which your pet is allergic.

The solution: Try a fish oil supplement to help keep your pet’s fur healthy, smooth and attached to his or her body. If you think an allergy may be to blame, try an elimination diet by weaning your pet off of suspect ingredients.


Bad health

Sometimes losing an excessive amount of hair can be a sign that something else is off, such as hypothyroidism.

The solution: If you’ve noticed a dramatic change in shedding, bald spots, itching or increased shedding in combination with other health changes, talk to your vet. He or she may recommend blood work to insure that a disease or hormonal imbalance isn’t at work.