Tired of cleaning up dog hair? Or searching google for deshedding options? The most effective way to reduce shedding and deshed a large dog isn’t time-consuming or difficult.
The first thing you need to know is that dogs shed, it’s a natural process. Hair shedding is part of the hair growth cycle, your dog will lose his old hair when his new coat is growing in. Excessive hair fall may be a sign of a deficiency and is easily remedied.
Here are the solutions we found that stop excessive shedding, promote coat health, and eliminate the constant hair fall blanketing your house and furniture.
Follow the simple steps below to learn how to manage excessive dog shedding. Reducing loose dog hair will increase your relationship with your pooch and make life with your fur companion less stressful.
Dog Shedding 101:
Why do dogs shed their hair?
- Dogs shed their old, dead hair to make space for new healthy hair to grow in.
- Dogs shed seasonally or year-round.
- Dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors shed seasonally in the spring and fall. (Example: strays, working dogs) Seasonal shedding results in the infamous “blow their coat” phenomenon. Where the dog appears to lose half their coat in a very short time, brought on by warm spring weather.
Indoor dogs can shed year-round due to the consistent warm temperature and artificial lighting. An indoor environment doesn’t provide the seasonal signals that regulate the biannual shedding that occurs in nature.
Dog Coat Analysis
A dog’s coat is made up of two hair types: primary and secondary. The primary hairs make up the outer coat and the secondary hairs make up the undercoat. Most large working breed dogs have a double coat, featuring a dense soft undercoat and a coarse guard coat on top to protect their skin. The frequency of shedding varies within breeds, and with the environment. Most breeds of adult working dogs renew their coats twice a year.
Excessive shedding can be attributed to a variety of factors: diet, stress, hormone imbalances, pregnancy, etc.
- Many breeds of working dogs have thick, double-coated coats complete with a coarse guard coat that feels like goat hair and a soft undercoat that resembles wool.
- Dog coats renew themselves naturally and prolifically during the spring and fall.
- Indoor dogs may shed all year round.
The Best Ways to Reduce Shedding
Deshedding helps keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy.
The most effective way to reduce shedding basically comes down to 3 things: make sure your dog’s diet is healthy, develop a consistent grooming schedule, and consult with your veterinarian if your dog’s shedding remains excessive.
The steps below include practical ways to incorporate these 3 foundational facts and additional pointers to ensure superior results.
- Provide Water – Adequate Hydration Promotes Healthy Skin
- Optimize Your Dog’s Diet
- Supplement Omega 3s – Support coat health
- Supplement MSM – A natural sulfur essential for joint and coat health
- Control parasites and fleas
- Deshed and groom with the right brushes
- Try Natural Skin Remedies
- Use a de-shedding shampoo
- Invest in a dog hair blower
- Control stress
- Get an air purifier for dander and dog hair
- Consult your veterinarian
Step 1: Hydrate for health.
Adequate hydration is an overlooked necessity to reduce shedding. Dehydration can lead to inflammation, urinary tract infections, toxin buildup, dry skin, weak follicles, and a myriad of other coat issues.
Making sure your dog has adequate drinking water available is important for overall health, especially skin health.
How much water should dogs drink daily?
Textbooks calculate normal water intake as 1-2 ml per kilogram of body weight every hour. Approximately 25-50ml/kg/24hrs.
A general rule for calculating how much water a dog should drink daily is 1 oz of fluid per pound of body weight. A 100-pound dog should drink approximately 100 fluid ounces in 24 hours.
Avoid giving your dog chlorine-laced water. Water should be clean, fresh, and readily available. For puppies or dogs that like to play in their water bowls, we found hanging a secure flat-sided bucket in the dogs’ daily living area to be a practical solution.
Step 2: Optimize Your Dog’s Diet
We’ve all heard the statement “We are what we eat” and the same is true for our four-legged family members. Nutrients from your dog’s diet provide the foundation of the structure and function of every cell in their body, including skin, hair, immune and digestive systems.
The appearance of a dog’s skin and coat is a helpful indicator of a dog’s overall health. Nutrition influences the amount of hair your dog sheds. Healthy dogs have healthier hair and shed less than nutritionally deficient dogs. The right canine nutrition will prevent your dog’s excess shedding from the inside out.
Many people who are not veterinarians will immediately recommend a grain-free exotic diet for any dog that is experiencing increased shedding. The grain-free myth has been perpetuated by boutique dog food companies capitalizing on the corn and gluten sensitivities in our pets.
No matter how popular “grain-free” diets may be, we cannot recommend such diets due to their increasing direct link to Diet-induced Cardiomyopathy (CMP). Too many well-meaning dog owners have lost their companions suddenly and prematurely due to CMP, induced by feeding a non-balanced, grain-free diet, and large breed dogs are the most at risk. We care too much about your dog to promote untested dog food linked to this devastating disease. Check out this post about the risks and ways you can prevent CMP.
If your dog has sensitivities or allergies be sure to choose a food from a WSAVA-approved dog food company scientifically formulated for dogs and known to prevent cardiomyopathy in dogs.
The Best Dry Dog Foods to Reduce Shedding:
- Eukanuba Daily Care Sensitive Digestion
- Hills Prescription Diet Derm Complete
- Royal Canin Veterinary Diets Dog Derm Hypoallergenic
- Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach
- Hills Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Grain Free
- Royal Canin Skin Support Dry Dog Food
No matter what you choose to offer your dog, research the company and check if the food has been recalled or reformulated. Feeding your dog shouldn’t require a degree in nutrition, but your dog’s health is worth the time you take to evaluate the available options. Never follow recommendations from online forums and groups without doing your own research and talking to your vet.
You can check out detailed reviews of dog food we have fed in the past at this link. See The Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin that is WSAVA Approved for more options.
Step 3: Supplement Omega EFAs, and Fish Oil
- Fish oil is one of the leading supplements for promoting overall dog health.
- Fish oil reduces irritated and flaky skin, promotes shiny coats, relieves allergies, and encourages new hair growth.
- Fish oil is the most potent source of EFAs and DHA. EFAs are Essential Fatty Acids that moisturize skin and promote hair growth from the inside out.
- Fish oil contains omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in high enough dosages to be considered therapeutic and not just a dietary supplement. (Source today’s veterinary practice)
EFAs are critical for a healthy nervous system, brain development, heart health, and reducing inflammation. Most veterinarians suggest supplementing dogs with a fish oil supplement for health and skin benefits. You can find a list of my favorite Fish Oil Supplements here. Over-the-counter EFA supplement
Step 4: Supplement MSM
- What is MSM? MSM short for Methylsulfonylmethane is a naturally occurring form of sulfur that helps the body use vitamins and minerals.
- MSM in its natural form exists in animals, plants, and humans and is necessary for forming keratin and healthy follicles for healthy skin and hair.
- MSM is a vital nutrient for many bodily functions.
- MSM also decreases inflammation, protects cartilage and collagen from deteriorating, serves as a natural pain killer, and reduces joint pain caused by osteoarthritis in dogs. (according to this study in the Journal of Experimental Biology)
Supplementing with MSM has multiple benefits for dogs, especially large and giant breeds. However, the benefit we want to focus on here is the ability of MSM to nourish skin cells, promote healthy follicles and increase skin elasticity. Most dog owners see a rapid decrease in overall hair fallout after supplementing with MSM regularly for approximately 6 weeks.
Is MSM safe for dogs?
MSM is non-toxic and safe for healthy dogs of all ages that are not on blood thinner medications. MSM is a natural blood thinner. Please check with your veterinarian if your dog is on any medications before using.
We have found MSM to be invaluable to the health of our dogs. I’ve used it as a supplement for my canine companions for over 15 years, with only positive health benefits. My current (can’t live without) favorite is the Animed white powder form. Many online brands have extra fillers and I found not all of them were as effective. If you want to learn more about the extraordinary benefits of MSM check out this complete blog post.
MSM is an invaluable piece of the excess shedding puzzle and is a natural cure that’s easy to obtain.
Step 5: Control Parasites and Fleas
A common symptom of parasites in dogs is a lackluster, dull, brittle coat, often accompanied by itching and excess hair shedding. If your dog is not on a regular worming schedule, speak to your vet about your dog’s excess shedding. Your vet will likely want to start with a stool sample, which your vet will analyze to determine if your dog has parasites and what types of parasites your dog has. If your dog is diagnosed with parasites your veterinarian will work with you to treat and cure your dog quickly and effectively.
External parasites that Cause Hair Loss
- Mites- Microscopic mites contribute to both canine scabies and mange in dogs. Sarcoptic mange is caused by a mite that lives on the dog’s skin, and demodectic mange is caused by a mite that lives in the dog’s hair follicles.
Most types of mange lead to hair loss and treatment of mange is generally successful.
- Fleas – Fleas are tiny parasites that live by ingesting their host’s blood. Fleas rapidly infest their hosts, and their saliva irritates the skin and causes an itchy reaction. Flea bite allergy is the most common allergen in dogs. If your dog is experiencing hair loss around its tail or neck it is likely due to fleas. Fleas cause your dog to be very itchy and this results in ugly hair loss caused by repeated biting, rubbing, and scratching.
- Ticks – Ticks feed on the blood of mammals; they cause hair loss and carry medical diseases. Ticks are an arachnid, and they carry a multitude of diseases making them a serious health threat to dogs everywhere.
Your veterinarian will want to know when the hair loss started and may take a skin scrape or blood sample to properly diagnose the external parasite. Ticks and fleas can be seen with the naked eye. Treatment for hair loss caused by external parasites may include the use of a medicated shampoo and the application of preventative medication such as Advantage or Frontline.
Treatment for fleas and parasites is often quick and effective and your dog will feel much better quickly. Hair will grow quickly after parasites have been treated and removed.
Step 6: Deshed and Groom with Brushes that Work
Grooming your dog regularly is the simplest and most effective way to reduce dog shedding. Brushing your dog with a slicker brush reduces excess hair fall around your house and also removes dead hair for healthy hair regrowth.
Most dogs enjoy regular grooming sessions and brushing sessions build trust and promote bonding between you and your dog.
What is the best dog grooming brush?
The right dog grooming brush to use depends on the type of your dog’s hair coat. A bristle brush is normally recommended for dogs with shorter coats, a slicker brush or pin brush is preferred for medium to long-haired dogs, and a de-shedding brush is useful for shedding seasons but not necessary for daily grooming sessions.
The main types of dog brushes I use:
Undercoat Rake Brush: Effective for removing dirt and debris from dogs with medium to long hair.
Bristle Brush: Bristle brushes are suitable for short-haired dogs and for finishing a grooming session to add shine to your dog’s glossy coat.
Slicker Brush: Slicker brushes are an inexpensive option for dogs with medium to long hair. The Slicker is useful for regular brushing, removing dead undercoat hair, and untangling mats and tangles.
Deshedding Tool: Deshedding tools are the most effective brush for removing dead, loose hairs from a dog’s coat. They are designed to remove dead fur from the undercoat and topcoat of any coat type. They are not ideal for dogs with sensitive skin and some brands are expensive.
There are other types of brushes you can use such as a pin brush, a rubber hand mitt, or a comb depending on your dog’s grooming needs.
How often should I groom my dog?
Every dog has unique grooming needs and different breeds have specialized grooming requirements
Estrela Mountain Dogs are a long-haired working breed that only needs brushing once a week most of the time, but will benefit from brushing daily during shedding season.
Regular brushing is beneficial for all dog breeds and keeps the coat healthy by removing foreign matter and distributing skin oils.
Step 7: Try Natural Remedies for Dog Shedding
There are many natural shedding home remedies that you can try, and most of them include things you already have in your own kitchen. Do homeopathic shedding remedies really work? The success of natural remedies usually depends on the underlying cause of the problem. Natural dog shedding remedies work most effectively when used consistently. They are recommended for shedding that is not a symptom of a serious health issue.
Which natural hair loss remedies actually work?
Olive oil –
1 tablespoon of olive oil added to dog food once a day provides a plant-based dosage of Omega-3s known for increasing skin and hair health.
Coconut oil –
- Coconut oil is used both topically and as a supplement.
- Coconut is a source of healthy fat that benefits dogs in many ways.
- Coconut oil can be massaged into the skin for deshedding and hair growth benefits.
It can also be used as a carrier for dog-safe essential oils.
Black Strap Molasses –
Blackstrap molasses is an old hair-shedding remedy with science backing it up. Blackstrap molasses is a healthy source of iron, sulfur, and B vitamins; all are essential for hair growth. 1-2 Tablespoons orally is the recommended dosage, depending on dog weight.
Fish oil –
Fish oil promotes health and increases hair growth. There are many types of fish oil available for dogs. I prefer cod liver oil which is an excellent source of meat-based Omega-3s and provides additional joint and health benefits.
Hang out around experienced old-world dog handlers and they will tell you to feed egg yolks and a can of sardines for the shiniest dog coats you’ve ever seen. Sardines are again a healthy source of healthy fats, Omega 3s, and protein beneficial to a dog’s health and vigor. I always feed my dog sardines packed in water without extra salt. This is an excellent tip if your dog is not allergic to fish.
There is conflicting evidence about the safety of feeding raw eggs to dogs, and this is something dog owners need to personally research. Egg yolks contain biotin and other health-boosting nutrients and fed in moderation are excellent additions to raw and optimized diets if a healthy dog coat is a goal.
Essential Oils –
Essential oils are a time-proven remedy to reduce dog hair shedding. Some of the popular essential oils to combat hair loss in dogs include Lavender, Rosemary, and Chamomile Essential Oils. You can read more about Essential Oils for Dog Health here.
Olive leaf powder-
- Olive leaf powder is my favorite antiviral, antimicrobial, and general health booster.
- Olive leaf extract has been used for centuries to treat and cure various ailments, infections, and even cancer.
- Olive leaf extract promotes a healthy skin environment and cures skin issues from the inside out.
There are limited studies done on animals, but scientific studies have shown significant benefits and no serious side effects. Currently, I give an approximately 100-pound dog bulk olive leaf powder. 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon daily when needed. Olive leaf is an excellent alternative to antibiotics and has been used in animal cancer studies. You can read more about the benefits of olive leaves here.
Natural Home Remedies Summary
As you can see, natural home remedies for dog shedding are a whole topic in itself. This is just a short summary of the ones I’ve tried with success. If you decide to try any home remedies for shedding, please remember to consult your veterinarian before and during use. Herbal therapies and supplements can potentially react to each other as well as with other medications. Remember that just because a remedy is from home doesn’t make it safe for your pet.
See also: Best Natural Home Remedies for Reducing Dog Shedding
Step 8: Use Dog Shedding Shampoo
Shed control shampoos help prevent excessive hair loss in long-haired dogs.
Most large breed dogs don’t need frequent baths, but if you consider your dog a heavy shedder some veterinarians suggest more frequent baths. Bathing helps loosen dead hair and promotes healthy skin. A deep cleansing de-shedding bath is the perfect antidote to hair bunnies taking over your home.
I don’t like to use harsh drying shampoos; I prefer to focus on hydrating and moisturizing my dog’s skin for proper skin health. My current favorite shedding shampoos are Burt’s Bees For Dogs Shed Control Shampoo and Tropiclean Deshedding Dog Shampoo. Neither of these shampoos is drying and both of them leave my dogs clean and smelling fresh.
I thoroughly wet my dog and massage the shampoo into the hair making sure it reaches the skin for a full 5-10 minutes. Some dogs have naturally water-repellent coats and require shampoo to be massaged into the hair to properly loosen dirt and dead hair.
Always cover the drain with a hair cover screen. A shampoo and massage will loosen dead undercoat hair during shedding seasons and the clumps of hair can easily plug drains and pipes.
If you are looking for more top-rated dog shampoo suggestions here is an in-depth comparison you can choose from Best Shampoos for Large Breed Dogs
Step 9: Invest in a dog hair blower
A tool that saves me time and mess? Tell me more!
Do dog hair blowers help with shedding and deshedding? High-velocity dog dryers will safely speed up the shedding process and make the shedding season less messy. Professional groomers and dog owners of heavy-shedding dogs often use a dog hair blower to speed up drying time and help with deshedding.
Professional dog hair blowers are not essential for most dog owners, but they make life a lot easier if you have a heavy-shedding breed of dog.
If you prefer to bathe at home Dog Hair Dryers cut dry time by approximately half the time of a regular hair dryer. They are safer for the dog’s skin. Blowing your dog at home will also save money by avoiding frequent dog salon visits. Dog Hair Blowers drastically reduce the amount of hair fall that is left around the house.
High Velocity Deshedding
High-Velocity Deshedding is one of the fastest ways to get rid of your dog’s loose, shedding undercoat. The Dog Blower works similar to a vacuum cleaner but in reverse, safely allowing you to remove all the dead hair at once from your dog’s coat. This will leave your dog shed-free for at least 3 weeks.
I like to use a dog blower outside in warm weather, after a bath, to quickly dry and deshed my dogs at the same time, during the shedding season. After blow drying, brushing is much easier because the blower itself safely removes most of the loose hair. This keeps the mess out of my house, and I can easily dispose of all excess dead hair at one time.
High-velocity dog hair blowers are not the right fit for everyone, but the reasonable costs of reliable hair blowers and their high benefits make them a worthwhile de-shedding tool, especially for heavy-shedding dog breeds.
Step 10: Control Stress
Shedding is a common reaction in dogs that are chronically stressed. Show dogs that struggle with anxiety in the show ring often “blow their coat.” Dogs that have recently experienced a pronounced lifestyle change, loss of an owner, loss of other dog companions, a big routine change, etc. Can show their anxiety by shedding excessively.
Shedding increases when a dog is anxious or experiencing situations that cause him to feel nervous or stressed.
If your dog is stressed, try to remove him from the environment or stressor. If this is impossible (for example your dog needs routine veterinary visits that he dislikes, your dog has classes, or your dog is competing in events) try to make the stressful experience as calm as possible for the dog and provide him with plenty of downtime in a safe place to recoup after.
My dogs’ favorite de-stress activities are taking them on a slow sniff walk followed by a massage with a gentle grooming glove. A sniff walk in nature is very relaxing for most dogs and a massage is a pleasant way to finish unwinding afterwards.
For dogs in high-stress situations suffering from anxiety, I’ve found CBD oil supplements to be a natural and effective solution.
See Also: My Success Using CBD Oil for Anxious Dogs
Step 11: Get an Air Purifier for Dander and Dog Hair
Air purifiers don’t actually decrease shedding, but they are the perfect solution for reducing dead hair, dog dander, and funky pet odors in your home. Common pet allergies are not caused by dog hair, but by the dead skin, and flakes called dander that our pets shed. An air purifier is an easy solution that will reduce the amount of dog hair and allergens in your home, helping both you and your pet breathe easier.
The best air purifiers for pets are air purifiers with HEPA filters that trap the tiniest particles of dust, hair, and dander. HEPA filters remove allergens, visible hair, and even the tiniest of particles, as small as 0.3 microns which is much smaller than pet dander which ranges between 5-10 microns.
Pet air purifiers help remove dust, hair, and pet odors from your home without extra work on your part. The biggest con of high-quality air purifiers is often the price. But there are hard-working air purifiers available at reasonable prices. Please refer to this article if you want to know more.
Step 12: Consult your veterinarian.
If your dog continues to lose an abnormal amount of hair, always consult your veterinarian. Extensive hair loss can be caused by stress, a canine medical condition, or a hormonal imbalance. Fungal infections, parasites, stress, allergies, and thyroid issues are just a few of the common canine health issues that cause dry skin, brittle hair, excess hair loss, and skin inflammation.
If your dog’s hair loss starts suddenly or seems abnormal, this is something your veterinarian will want to investigate for the health and longevity of your dog companion. Abnormal canine hair loss can be a symptom of a more serious issue and should always be discussed with a medical professional that knows your dog’s personal medical history.
How Often Can You Deshed A Dog?
You can deshed most dogs monthly if you follow a gentle process. Monitor your dog’s skin for reactions, some dogs are more prone to irritations and itching. For excessive shedders try a de-shedding treatment once a month. Avoid using harsh soap or rough grooming.
If you notice your dog’s skin beginning to dry and get itchy reduce the deshedding baths and routine to once every other month. Use moisturizing products to decrease irritation and increase skin elasticity.
If your dog develops bare patches of skin this is NOT NORMAL and you should immediately consult your vet.
How to Use a Deshedding Spray: a Quick Shedding Solution
There are times when taking the time to fully bathe and deshed your dog isn’t possible. A deshedding spray and quick grooming sesh is the perfect mess-free solution.
Consider a deshedding spray to manage shedding and remove dog odors and dirt during grooming.
Using a deshedding spray is as simple as:
- Spray the deshedding spray on your dog’s coat evenly and massage it into the skin.
- Gently use an undercoat rake or slicker brush to remove dead fur. Spend time working around the ears, chest, and tail, or any areas that are prone to matting or tangles.
- Wipe the dog down with a towel or microfiber cloth to remove the last of the loose hair and dry the dog if the dog is still damp.
It takes about 20 minutes to finish a thorough deshedding spray and brush session. However, the benefits are well worth it and your dog’s coat will benefit from the shedding spray’s conditioning and health benefits.
Finding A Perfect Deshedding Solution
As you can see, there is no magic wand that makes our dog shedding problems magically vanish. Our beloved dogs were once canines that thrived in a wild and primitive state where hair fall was not an issue. Their ability to regenerate their luxurious coats was a natural way to keep their skin healthy.
Living in our modern homes and the world can create shedding challenges for our dogs and us. We hope that this post has provided practical shedding solutions and health tips for your dog to grow his healthiest, happiest coat.
In summary the most effective way to deal with your dog’s normal shedding is to follow a regular grooming routine. The best way to deal with excessive shedding is to ensure your dog eats a healthy diet that promotes skin and coat health.
If you want more nutritional tips for maintaining healthy dog coats read this guide. It contains the most effective natural supplements for healthy coats so you can have a super healthy hair model companion.
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