Posts Tagged ‘blowing coat’

Shedding Woes, Part 2: Tips on Managing Blowing Coats

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Last week we explained the finer points of shedding, and more specifically, the huge annual or bi-annual event termed “blowing coat” experienced by double-coated dog breeds. Whether or not you have a dog that blows out his undercoat this spring, if you have a dog, you have dog hair issues. So, to make your life a little less hairy, the following tips will help you keep the flying fur under control (and your vacuum cleaners in good working order).

Simply: Brush, Wash, Brush, Repeat.

To expand upon this, read on:

1) Consistent grooming. The dog hair is going to fall out one way or another, and for a few reasons, it is best to remove it yourself by brushing.  The more hair YOU remove, the less you will see tufting and wafting by, all over your house. During shedding season, it’s best if you can brush your dog once a day, at least. For those dogs that blow out their coat, you could probably spend all day brushing, amidst a continual fur explosion!

Pet hair can also clog air vents and heating ducts, causing a great deal of respiratory ailments and allergies, so make sure you get your air ducts cleaned annually if you have dogs and/or cats. Better yet, invest in a good quality air purifier for at least your bedroom, and have your air ducts and dryer vents checked and cleaned in direct proportion to the number of animals and the volume of fur that you have.

2) Brushing, Brushing, and more… Brushing: To avoid or at least reduce the build up of dog hair in your house, air vents, and in your furniture and rugs, it’s best to brush out your dog outside. Brush a couple of times a day, or as often as you can, with a few different kinds of brushes. The best kind of brush to use for a double-coated dog shedding his undercoat is a double-row undercoat rake with rotating teeth. This will penetrate through the thick coat, removing only the loose undercoat fur, leaving the exterior guard hairs untouched and intact. Many people also love the FURminator, basically, another form of an undercoat tool that is designed to grab and remove the loose undercoat without cutting the coat.

Brushing out your dog’s coat, contrary to many people’s belief, is not a matter of vanity. It is important for your dog’s health as well as for your own health and housekeeping that you keep the fur under control! Though nature intends for this coat to be shed, if it’s not helped along by brushing, the dead hair can easily get matted and caught in the rest of the coat, which can attract fleas, mites, and ticks, as well as being a cause of skin irritation and pain on its own.

3) Bathe your dog! For a step-by-step guide on how to bathe your dog, see our post on this topic! Many double-coated dog owners bathe more frequently than usual during coat-blowing season, since bathing helps to speed the shedding process by loosening the undercoat that hasn’t shed out yet, so it’s even more essential that you use a soap-free, non-irritating, additive and paraben-free shampoo (you’ll be safe with any of earthbath’s “flavors”) if you’re washing often. One of our Facebook fans, who is also a professional dog groomer and an earthbath-exclusive user gave us her secret regimen for managing excessive shedding: “First, de-shed in the tub with a slicker, then a single rake, double rake and finally a comb while the shampoo is on. Rinse, then put in conditioner, massage in, and use a high velocity blower right near the skin to loosen up any other hair that is ready to go,comb again and rinse. I use the High Velocity and stand dryer to dry. This prevents all the hair and dander flying all over the place and getting into the lungs. It is also always better for the coat and less damaging to brush it out when wet, rather than brushing dry hair.” Great tip!

4) Condition and loosen mats with coat-conditioner or conditioning spritz: We love earthbath’s creme rinse and conditioner and our Puppy spritz in cherry-scent! After you moisturize any tangles or mats, use a mat-breaker which is specially designed “comb-like” tool with blades that easily cuts through the mats evenly and painlessly (if you use it correctly), so chunks of fur are not left missing, and your dog remains comfortable and pain-free.

5) Give an Omega-3 fish oil supplement daily or add a tablespoon of olive oil to your dog’s dinner. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for a healthy coat and skin, not to mention, really great for joint health, so Omega-3s are wonderful, multi-functional supplements to add! Some people claim that Omega-3 fatty acids even reduce shedding because it helps keep the fur healthy. Just make sure you get the most natural form of Omega-3, with DHA. My dog eats Omega-3 capsules like a treat (I don’t know how!) but if yours does not, I would advise going the olive oil route, or inserting the pill in a pill pocket or piece of cheese!

This isn’t snow… it’s the fur a Siberian husky shed while he blew coat! It may be nice to know that all of this fur could actually be used, rather than thrown out. How? You can donate it to be used to clean up oil spills. After the Gulf Oil Spill, we found out that an organization called Matter of Trust collects donated hair and fur to create “booms” and large mats which are used to soak up the oil from oil spills (many of which we never even hear about, including motor oil runoff in our waterways).  Hair and fur are actually among the most effective materials that soak up oil.

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Shedding woes, part 1: What does “blowing coat” mean?

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

In this two-part series over the next two weeks, we describe the seasonal insanity that is “blowing coat” and then, detail the best way to manage this massive shedding!

Some dog owners may never come across this dreaded two-word phrase (Looking at you, you single-coated breed owners, you!), but those of us who have the pleasure of sharing our lives (and homes) with the furrier Arctic breeds, made all the fluffier by a warm, dense undercoat,also have the distinct DISPLEASURE of finding great tumbleweeds of fur blowing through our homes once, twice, or even three times a year, depending on the climate, the type of dog, gender, whether or not the dog is “intact,” and how much time s/he spends outside.

In fact, for all the frustration (and extra vacuuming) it can cause, it is completely natural for dogs to “blow coat” once or twice annually, changing their winter coat to a lighter one for summer, as the seasons change. All dogs shed (we humans “shed” hair too – around 100 per day!).  In fact, shedding old, dead hair allows the new coat to grow in. It is actually a bit of a myth that some breeds don’t shed: while all dogs shed, the amount of shedding actually varies greatly from breed to breed. The downside to those breeds that shed little to no hair (for example: terriers, maltese, shih tzus, poodles, bichon frises, and water dogs) is that they usually need to be professionally groomed (or clipped) often, otherwise their fur is highly prone to matting.

The benefit, therefore, of a dog that blows out their coat or sheds consistently year round, is that these breeds typically don’t need much, if any, professional coat-cutting, since nature pretty much takes care of that for you! Even though the term “fur” and “hair” are often used interchangeably to describe a dog’s coat, in general, a double coat (made up of a soft, insulating undercoat underneath a coarser topcoat made up of guard hairs, the longer outer coat hairs), like that of a Siberian Husky, Shiba, Chow Chow, or Samoyed, is correctly referred to as a FUR coat, while a single coat (lacking an undercoat), like that of a shih tzu or a terrier, is actually a HAIR coat.

Evolutionarily, those breeds that originated from the harsh Northern climates needed a dense undercoat to protect and warm them through the frigid winter months, and would shed this undercoat as the need for it waned with the increasing daylight hours of spring and summer months. In today’s world of mostly climate-controlled, pampered and indoor companion animals, the environmental effects of changing seasons and day lengths on fur coats are minimized.  Double-coated dogs that enjoy the outdoors, and as a result, spend most of their time outside, will usually have two distinct seasons of shedding that respond to the changing season from winter to spring and fall to winter. Indoor dogs tend to shed at a fairly consistent and continuous rate, unless other factors trigger a more pronounced shed.

Other things that influence hair growth and shedding include genetics, nutrition, age, sex, health status, season, and the normal hormonal fluctuations of an “intact” dog. I was having a conversation with a dog breeder the other day and she mentioned offhandedly, “oh, yes, I can always tell if a dog is spayed or neutered from the coat. You’ll never see a more beautiful coat than on a fixed dog.” I thought that was an interesting comment, which, in part, prompted my research for this article! And in fact, hormonal levels definitely impact the condition and quantity/type of coat. Spayed and castrated dogs usually have denser undercoats, which gives that fluffy, “cottony” appearance. I am still waiting, however, to see whether or not my two chows (one male, one female, both “fixed”) will in fact, “blow coat” as spring progresses, more than the relatively massive amount of hair that comes out in the nightly brushing session. Maybe they’re in the process already; it’s my first “season” with them, so I have no comparison point. That said, my male chow is shedding more voluminously and much more noticeably from his undercoat than his sister; who basically feels like touching the fluffiest cloud of cotton candy you can imagine.

Read on to Part 2, where we cover (in detail) the best way to manage blowing coats.

As a quick preview, we’ll give you a hint:

Brush, Wash, Brush, aussie