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A Hairy Consideration

By Dr Katrina Warren on September 28, 2012 in Other

Photo: Dave Tabain

As dogs move out of the backyard and into the house (and even into our beds), hair shedding and cleanliness become increasingly important. A study of pet owners that live in medium to high-density housing showed hair shedding was the number one problem for people who own a dog or cat in smaller spaces.

Cat owners had more of a problem with hair shedding than dog owners. When our dogs and cats lived primarily outdoors they could shed hair like crazy and it rarely mattered, but these days, with pets spending more time indoors, and particularly those living in the city and/or apartments, it clearly has the potential to be a major concern.

It’s no coincidence that many of the dog breeds considered suitable for small spaces are non- or low-shedding. Some dog breeds are said to have no shedding at all, but be aware that these dogs all need regular grooming and/or clipping to maintain their long, fine coats. Bedlington Terriers, Bichon Frise, Lhasa Apso, Maltese, Poodles, Schnauzers, Shih Tzus and Yorkshire Terriers are all considered non-shedding, while low-shedding dog breeds include Australian Silky Terriers, Australian Terriers, Basenji, Cairn Terriers, Chinese Crested Dogs, Scottish Terriers and West Highland White Terriers. Chihuahuas, Whippets, Greyhounds and Italian Greyhounds all shed hair but their fine coats mean less hair and little grooming. Some of the designer ‘Oodle’ crossbreeds are non- or low-shedding, but not all. If you want a non- or low-shedding crossbreed you should discuss this with the breeder.

Devon and Cornish Rex cats have very sparse coats and as a consequence shed far less hair than other cat breeds. The coat length of cat breeds can range from short through to long, and they will typically shed hair and require grooming relative to their coat length – the longer the coat, the more regularly grooming will be required.

Tips to Manage Hair Shedding

• All dogs and cats shed hair – some more than others. Selecting a short-haired breed may reduce the overall volume of shedding.

• Brush and comb pets regularly to remove loose fur that will otherwise be shed. The more hair in the brush, the less on your clothes.

• Have long-haired pets professionally groomed regularly to keep their coats trim.

• Some breeds, such as Huskies and Border Collies, have a thick undercoat that they shed in the warmer months. Brushing with an ordinary dog brush will not remove the undercoat. You need to purchase an undercoat rake – these reach the undercoat without touching the outer coat.

• Vacuum regularly to remove hair from your living space.

• Use a sticky lint roller to remove fur from clothing and inside your car. I rarely leave home without using one!

• Keep pets off furniture.

• Use washable covers or throw rugs to prevent fur accumulation on your favourite furniture.

• Wash pet bedding and towels separately and regularly.

• Restrict pets to areas in your property with hard-surface flooring such as tiles and floorboards for ease of cleaning.

• Your pet should receive regular veterinary attention. Animals suffering from flea infestation and other skin disease may shed more and are more likely to experience secondary problems such as dandruff.