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Pets Shedding Hair: An Expert Guide to Dealing With It

Pet shedding is one of the top complaints we hear about from pet parents. Here are the best ways to control shedding of your pet — and in your home.

pets shedding hair
Learn how to deal with pets shedding hair. Photo: FURminator

Do you ever find yourself stuck in endless “sweeping” mode, where pet hair magically accumulates around the floors at breakneck speeds?

Some pets naturally shed a lot of hair — and if you’re reading this article, chances are your pet is a heavy shedder.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with messy shedding, rest assured that there are ways to reduce the frustration. Start by following the tips below.

In this expert guide to dealing with pets shedding hair, we’ll cover:

  • Our best advice for dealing with heavy shedding — what works and doesn’t work
  • Why the FURminator is your new best friend
  • And how to use the FURminator the right way
  • How to get rid of all that pet hair in your home
  • Plus, ways to deal with pet hair in your car, too
  • And much more

Part 1: How to Deal With Pets Shedding Hair

Tip #1: Brush Every Day

One easy way to manage pet shedding is to simply brush the coat regularly.

A daily brushing with the right grooming tool is perfect for:

  • Keeping hair tangle-free
  • Clearing coats of dirt and debris
  • Controlling shedding

De-shedding tools and brushes work wonders on both your pets and your home:

  • A shedding blade is the classic tool of choice.
  • Or try the FURminator deShedding Tool, which comes in multiple sizes for both cats and dogs. (Don’t miss our FURminator tips below.)
  • A slicker brush or Love Glove is also helpful.

By spending 3–5 minutes brushing your pet daily, you’ll be cutting back on even more time spent sweeping and vacuuming.

Pro tip: Pick a spot outside and turn this step into your morning or bedtime routine.

Tip #2: Use a Detangler

If your pet has long hair, you’ll need to use a detangler while brushing them, too.

Again, make sure to do this daily — the more tangled your pet’s hair gets, the harder it is to control.

Detanglers, or wide tooth and mat combs, help longhaired cats and dogs stay mat-free. These tools not only keep your pet cleaner but also make brush time less painful on their sensitive skin.

Pay special attention to armpits and stomachs, where hair tends to mat quicker.

As a last resort for bad mats, you can cut the hair, but do so with extreme caution and only with a comb between the scissors and skin. If possible, let your groomer take care of this part.

cat shedding hair
Daily brushing can become a ritual that helps bond you with your pet. Photo: yoppy

Tip #3: Trim the Paw Hair

Hair around the feet tends to grow on top, under the paws and even between the toes. If your pet’s paws grow long hair, consider trimming this hair.

Why? Keeping paws clean and groomed isn’t just a vanity tip — it’s important for your pet’s health and comfort, too. As hair grows between and around their paws, dirt and debris can build up quickly. If it’s cold, icy or wet outside, the hair can stay damp, causing your pet to lick until the areas are irritated.

By keeping the hair trimmed back, you’ll avoid a messy house and hot spots around paws.

Tip #4: De-Shedding Shampoo

Another thing you can do is to use a special “de-shedding” shampoo.

Do not use very hot or cold water when giving a bath — the extreme temperatures may harm your pet’s coat. Always use warm water instead.

A hairy situation, indeed. By: Paul Joseph
A hairy situation indeed. Photo: Paul Joseph

Part 2: Our Best FURminator Tips

If you’ve never held a FURminator deShedding Tool in your hands, you’re in for a treat.

Behold its ergonomic, special-grip handle. The head of this brush looks something like a set of brightly colored hair clippers. It is truly the Bentley of dog brushes.

“No rake, brush or comb comes close,” says Dr. Scott Matheson, DVM, DABVP, of Pet Care Animal Hospital in South Jordan, Utah. The FURminator is “by far the best brush we have ever seen for virtually every type of dog and cat.”

Getting Ready

  1. Make sure your pet’s coat is dry.
  2. Remove any mats or tangles. If you can’t get them out, don’t try to use the FURminator to do so. Remember when you were a kid and your mom yanked on your hair to get out knots? It hurts your pet just as much.
  3. Remove foreign objects such as burrs.
  4. Look for any injuries such as cuts or bruises (you don’t want to inadvertently cause pain by brushing over them).

Brushing Do’s and Don’ts

Do:

  • Angle the teeth of the brush in the same direction as your pet’s coat. In other words, go from head to tail.
  • Use gentle, long strokes, stopping to remove hair from the teeth as needed. Move the brush up and away from your dog or cat’s skin.
  • Use the FURminator evenly, being especially gentle around sensitive areas such as the ears, stomach, legs and genital areas.

Don’t:

  • Don’t pull the FURminator against your dog or cat’s coat. That is, don’t go from tail to head.
  • Don’t apply a lot of pressure to the FURminator. It’s designed to reach your pet’s undercoat without causing pain.
  • Don’t use the FURminator excessively in one area. You risk hitting the skin more often and causing irritation.

How Long to FURminate?

Plan to spend a good amount of time brushing your dog or cat. Especially for the long-haired breeds, this takes anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour.

If you have to get dinner on the table in half an hour, it’s not a good time to brush. By rushing it, you miss catching a lot of hair and may brush too hard.

By: FURminator
Be prepared to clean up a lot of pet hair. The FURminator does not kid around. Photo: FURminator

Additional Tips

  • Set up in a place that will be easy for you to sweep or vacuum the floor.
  • Remove hair from the brush frequently. Keeping the teeth clear is key to removing as much hair as possible.
  • When you’re done, clean the brush with mild soap and warm water as needed.
  • Each FURminator comes with a plastic cover for the teeth. Put it back on after use.

The makers of FURminator recommend using the tool once or twice a week. “You may need to use it more frequently during heavy shedding seasons,” according to the company.

When Is the FURminator Not Right for Your Pet?

Simply put, it’s not designed for pets who don’t shed very much. The following dog breeds, among others, should not get the FURminator treatment because they lack an undercoat:

  • American Water Spaniel
  • Bedlington Terrier
  • Bichon Frise
  • Bolognese
  • Chinese Crested
  • Coton de Tulear
  • Curly-Coated Retriever
  • Dandie Dinmont
  • Glen of Imaal Terrier
  • Havanese
  • Irish Water Spaniel
  • Kerry Blue Terrier
  • Komondor
  • Löwchen
  • Maltese
  • Poodle
  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • Puli
  • Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

Similarly, if your cat’s breed is on the following list, the FURminator is not the right grooming tool for you:

  • Balinese
  • Bombay
  • Cornish Rex
  • Devon Rex
  • European Burmese
  • Havana Brown
  • Javanese
  • Korat
  • LaPerm
  • Oriental
  • Ragamuffin
  • Singapura
  • Sphynx
  • Tiffany-Chantilly
  • Turkish Angora
  • Turkish Van
  • York Chocolate
How to Get Rid of Pet Hair
Detanglers and wide-tooth combs can help your longhaired pet avoid painful mats. Photo: quinet

Part 3: How to Get Rid of Pet Hair in the Home

When you have a dog or cat, shedding happens. When you have a double-coated dog, even more shedding happens, and at certain times of the year you feel like your home is being invaded by pet hair.

Here are 5 tips to get you through those takeover pet hair days:

1. Brush It Out

If you’ve read this far, you already know that brushing is a huge part of dealing with pets shedding hair.

Help that loose pet hair come out quicker and easier with a good grooming tool. During shedding season, set aside 10–20 minutes a day to brush your dog or cat.

2. Suck It Up

If you’re dealing with a lot of pet hair, invest in a great vacuum cleaner that is made with pets in mind.

The reason a pet vacuum cleaner may work better is because a lot of models come with attachments that are specifically designed to better remove pet hair from furniture.

We’ve also noticed that most pet hair vacuum cleaners have better suction power that gets embedded dirt and pet hair better than regular vacuum cleaners.

The Dyson Animal and Eureka AirSpeed Exact Pet vacuums are both great choices.

3. Roll It

Always have a lint brush handy. Keep one in the kitchen and another in your car. Lint rollers work well on upholstery and bedding, too.

Pro tip: Packing tape works wonders when your lint roller runs out.

4. Cover It

If you have a couch that you want to keep looking gorgeous, cover it during heavy shedding season.

Couch covers or even throw blankets will work well. Once the cover gets filled with dog hair, just take it off, shake it outside and put it back on.

Of course if it got full of mud and debris during that time, you can throw it in the washing machine for a quick cycle to keep it looking new.

Pro tip: If you’re going to wash the cover, put it in the dryer first with a fabric softener. The dryer and the fabric sheet will loosen up the pet hair, and all the washer will have to do is get the resistant hair.

5. Swiffer It

Swiffer Sweeper is your new best friend. When you don’t want to pull the vacuum cleaner out because you’re feeling extra lazy, grab a handy-dandy Swiffer, make a quick swipe throughout the house and your floors are pet hair free — for a few minutes, at least.

The Swiffer gets those dust bunnies covered in pet hair that are hiding under couches and end tables.

Pro tip: Buy off-brand dry cloths to save money.

Car Seat Covers for dogs
It’s time to look into car seat covers, don’t you think? Photo: thombo2

Part 4: How to Get Rid of Dog Hair in Your Car

If you travel frequently with your dogs, you know that the inevitable result is that your car is covered in dog hair and drool, or your backseat is covered in puncture marks — or all of the above.

Having a seat cover or protector helps cut down on the problem. They’re removable, which makes cleanup easier, and in many cases they do wonders to protect your seats.

“Car seat covers help keep vehicle upholstery fur-free. They come in every possible cover and pattern,” says Dr. Marty Becker, DVM, in his book Your Dog: The Owner’s Manual.

“Look for one that’s machine washable, and buy at least two so you’ll always have one available,” he says.

Car Seat Covers: Prices

The price of a new car seat cover can range from $10 to nearly $200. Factors that determine the cost include:

  • Whether or not the cover is waterproof
  • Size
  • Durability
  • Type of vehicle

Although you certainly don’t have to spend a hundred dollars to get the perfect cover, remember that you get what you pay for.

Car Seat Covers: Sizing

If you get a seat cover that’s too small, it won’t cover the whole seat.

One that’s too big either can be shoved aside by your dog, or they could even trip on it while they’re moving around.

Some attachments may not work with your headrests or the layout of your vehicle. Many covers are designed to hook onto the driver’s and passenger’s side headrests. So if your chosen cover doesn’t hook on snugly, your dog can tunnel under it or even shove it aside.

In many cases, the benefits of a cover outweigh the costs of cleaning or repairing damaged leather or upholstery in your car, and the ASPCA recommends buying one for trips with your dog.

The video below shows a woman installing a hammock version with straps for the headrests:

3 Possible Options

Here are a few popular car seat covers for people with dogs:

1. Orvis Deluxe Microfiber Hammock Seat Protector

This is one of the pricier options, coming in at around $180. However, it has the benefit of being both water-resistant and washable, and the design allows it to catch loose dirt and other debris and keep it from your seats.

Customer reviews, although few, are glowing about the ease of installation and the effectiveness of this cover (which is similar to the one in the video above).

“It takes less than 5 minutes to install and about 2 minutes to take down when I have company,” says reviewer Ryan O. “I have tried other back seat covers, and none of them worked like this one.”

Orvis Deluxe Microfiber Hammock Seat Protector
Orvis Deluxe Microfiber Hammock Seat Protector

2. Petego Rear Seat Protector

Less expensive but still favorably reviewed, this car seat cover offers fluffy soft comfort, a velvety streamlined look and an anti-skid backing to help keep things firmly in place.

Many buyers are happy with the product’s durability, and some even used it for their children instead of their pets. Negative reviews were commonly about the seat cover not fitting a particular vehicle — remember to measure your seats.

3. DuraGear Rear Bench Cover

This model doesn’t protect the entire seat, but it does have decent coverage over the main part of the back seat area. If your pet is a calm and easy rider, the DuraGear may be a good choice.

Chief complaints from reviewers are that the cover is not as waterproof as advertised and that it doesn’t stay in place as well as it should.

Or Go Plain-Jane?

For an environmentally friendly (and wallet-friendly) option, an old bed sheet may just do the trick. After all, covering a seat isn’t rocket science.

The book Green Dog, Good Dog says an old blanket or sheet “may not tuck in as nicely as something that’s supposed to be custom-fitted, but … what a great way to recycle linens.”

* * *

This guide to dealing with pets shedding hair was written by a Petful team of writers including Kristen Youngs, Melissa Smith and Dave Baker. Jennifer Costello, a former veterinary technician who has had long-haired dogs for nearly 20 years, also contributed her knowledge and experience in dealing with pet shedding issues.

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At Petful®, founded by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and editor Dave Baker, we are on a mission to give our readers the best, most accurate information to help their pets live happier, healthier lives. Our team of expert writers includes veterinarians Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD, and Dr. Pippa Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS, among others. Petful is also the leading independent source of U.S. pet food recall information on the web. Learn more about the amazing team behind Petful here: Meet the Team.

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