It’s October, which means we’re coming into the season of “furricanes,” as double-coated dogs shed their summer coats so their winter coats can come in thick and heavy.
Seasonal shedding (known to the dognoscenti as “blowing coat”) usually begins in September and completes its mission to layer your home, clothes and belongings in fur by November — just in time for the holidays. (Maybe you can collect it to weave scarves and socks for loved ones?)
Your Alaskan malamute, Bernese mountain dog, Great Pyrenees, Norwegian elkhound or any other dog with a thick, furry coat will go through this seasonal shedding process, making your life furrier in the process.
And don’t think you are home-free if you have a short-haired dog. Labrador retrievers, beagles, pugs and puggles are also among the dogs that shed like nervous Chihuahuas this time of year.
People new to double-coated dogs are sometimes stunned by the amount of hair that comes off their pets. Ankle-deep in dustpuppies, some become so concerned that they call their vets, wondering if their dog has a skin disease.
It’s normal. The good news is that it doesn’t last forever (it just seems that way). The better news? You can take steps to help relieve your dog of its fur more quickly.
The following tips can help you get through shedding season with your sanity and your sense of humor intact:
• Brush daily to remove dead hair.
• Invest in fur-removal tools: wire slicker brushes, undercoat rakes, shedding blades, Furminators, hound gloves and Zoom Grooms are just a few of the options available.
• Go easy. With tools such as Furminators, you can become so enthusiastic at the amount of hair that’s coming out that the next thing you know, your dog is bald. Don’t go there.
• Ask the experts. If you purchased your dog from a breeder, ask about the best grooming tools to use on your dog. For instance, hound gloves, grooming mitts and Zoom Grooms work best on short-haired dogs. A professional groomer can also give good advice (and take much of the labor off your hands).
• For dogs with big, thick coats, pro groomer Julie Ellingson of Sacramento, Calif., uses a slicker, comb, de-shedding shampoo and conditioner, silicone brushing spray, a Mighty Wind high-velocity dryer and “a liberal yet scientific application of elbow grease.”
• Between baths and brushings, pull out your trusty lint roller and use it on your dog to remove small amounts of loose hair.
• Draw a warm bath for your dog. That helps to release loose coat. A warm bath every two weeks for her collies encourages dead hair to let go, says Rosemary George of Virginia. Follow the bath with conditioner, and then blow-dry, brushing your dog thoroughly to remove loosened hair and undercoat. Just make sure your dog is dry all the way down to the skin.
• Brush outdoors to keep hair in your home to a minimum.
• Buy a good vacuum cleaner, one that won’t balk at sucking up all that fur. Better, choose one with an attachment, such as an upholstery tool, that allows you to vacuum your dog. If dogs are slowly and carefully introduced to vacuuming at a young age, they may learn to enjoy the feel of it.
• Ask your vet about fatty acid supplements, which may help to reduce the volume of shedding.
• De-fur furniture and carpets with a rubber dishwashing glove, hound glove or squeegee. You can find pet hair lifters, lint removers or similar items online or at pet supply stores.
• Most important, relax. Every fashionista knows dog hair is a neutral.