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'Tis the Season! Shedding Season, that is.


You may have a hypo-allergenic breed, short-haired, double-coated or even a hairless. They all shed in one way or another. This I can attest to working with animals for over a dozen years and living with them longer. The amount of hair you see in your environment depends on what breed you have and what care you give them.

By this I mean brushing, bathing, nutrition and general well-being of your furbaby. Just like with your car and appliances, proper maintenance is needed for you pet. The right food, grooming, and health all attribute to a less hairy mess of your house and clothes.

I have been bathing and de-shedding dogs for over thirteen years and I have discovered some tips for home care as well as expectations from salons that really care about their clients (the dogs in their care). I've even changed some procedures for shedding that parents loved and would continue to use our salons over others. My sister also has a Husky-mix and follows Husky groups on Social Media. She is always asking me for tips to pass along.

Things we will be looking at are what can be done at home and what you should ask from your groomer. We'll start with the salon based de-shedding procedures. Don't be afraid to ask what they offer and how they do their de-shedding package, if they even have one. A couple times a year, the extra time and cost will win out over time.

When I worked in a corporate salon, I always touted the benefits of getting a shedless done on certain breeds and at certain times of the year. Spring may bring flowers but it also causes a lot of double-coated breeds to release their winter-coats. Also a lot of short-haired breeds (i.e. Labradors, Chihuahuas, Boxers, Bulldogs, etc.) will actually shed as much as if not more than a long-haired breed. My son's Chihuahua sheds more than my Doxer (Dachshund/Boxer mix) and my sister's Husky-mix, combined! My Yorkshire Terrier does not shed per se, he molts like a cat, with clumps of hair rubbed off on the furniture and floor.

Things to ask when going to a salon:

1) Do they have a Shedless/Deshed/Reduce Shed Program/Policy? If yes, then go to #2. If no, ask if they completely blow out the dog's coat during the bathing/grooming process.

2) What does it entail? A good deshedding should involve extra brushing and blowing out of the loose undercoat before, during and after bathing. Warm to "hot" water should be used to open the pores (anyone who's had their own hair done professionally or just washed at home, knows that they loose hair more after a good washing). A deshedding shampoo and/or conditioner should be used to promote the hair to be released and assist in the releasing and future conditioning of the skin and coat. Then there are the tools and "high velocity dryer/blower" that should be used to really blow the hair out. I liked to tell parents that we made it snow year-round do that they did not have as much to deal with at home.

3) What tools do they use? I will discuss tools more in depth in a bit but a good groomer has deschedding rakes and blades , combs and bristle/slicker brushes they can used as well as "curry" brushes for shorter haired dogs.

4) And do they have a guarantee? Now when I say "guarantee" I don't mean they can promise your dog will not shed at all. NO ONE can guarantee that and no one should, it's not going to happen. Dogs will always shed, what they should be looking at is a reduction of shed hair for a period of time.

And finally, 5) What do they recommend for you to do at home, in between groomings? This would be the perfect time to introduce the proper tools and how to use them, proper nutrition and supplements for your pet. It may even be a request for a veterinarian visit for a wellness check if a health issue is discovered.

Side Note: Groomers are the #2 most trusted for health and wellbeing information and care, behind the vet. So if you have questions, ask! If you have concerns, ask! A groomer sees a lot and, a good one, will be continuing to educate themselves so they may educate their clients.

Now, for what I offered when I worked for a salon and how I explained it to the parents and got a lot of repeat, happy customers coming back and asking for the service. With me and most of my groomers, you got what you paid for and more. First I would look at the breed, (it didn't matter what kind it was, they all shed in one way or another) and ask if they had a heavy shedding problem at home. If it was just seasonal, that was the easier task, but if it was year round then I would go into nutrition, health and homecare as well the benefits of proper and timely grooming.

Here's how I explained it. A good shedless treatment would involve a warm to "hot" bath to open the pores, shampoo and conditioning specifically for releasing the dead hair/fur, and a half hour to 45 minutes of blowing and brushing out the coat. (Notice I placed blowing first in the list, as too much brushing can bring back all the oils that you just washed off the skin, and can cause more issues like brush-burn and skin irritation.) Then we would explain that due to the pores being "opened" the parent could expect some shedding for a couple days, but if they process worked it would be much less than they were used to before. After about 3 days the pores should be closed back up and the shedding should be minimal. If after 3 days the shedding did not stop or decrease then they were to bring the dog back to us over the next 2 weeks for an additional FREE blowout. In most cases this worked beautifully, about 2/3 didn't even need the extra blowout. This worked best during the heaviest shedding the dog had, whether seasonal, due to age like transitional growth of puppy to adult coat.

So now we get into the tools I have used versus the tools used by other groomers. I know there are others who prefer one tool over others, but these are what I have used and recommend. My best advice is to research your dog's breed and coat type to see what you would prefer for yourself. So again, these are my opinions of over 13 years of working with different breeds and tools.

Now before I really start let me say that these are recommendations for "normal" shedding and hair removal. For those dogs classified as shed-free dogs, extra work and care needs to be addressed to minimize the matting that can occur from the hair/fur not releasing like a typical breed. If the matting is too bad and will not come out with normal procedures then the best course of action may be shaving the dog down and starting over from scratch. I usually tell this to parents of Doodles and other breeds when they reach about a year old, especially if they reach that year during the winter or spring.

So the tools I really love are deshedding rakes or blades. They come in multiple blade numbers that work on different coats or different areas of the coat. They are safer then most dematting tools are the blades are curved and grab the hair safely with less risk of injuring the pet. Rakes are straight with rounded tips but you still want to be careful not to force anything as you can scratch the skin or cause irritation from pulling too hard. These work great on longer coats, like Golden Retrievers, Huskies, Shepards, Pomeranians.

Next come combs. Once you have more of the loose hair out then you want to run a comb through to grab the little bit that should be left. These also work best on mats in sensitive areas, such as behind the ears, inside the back legs and belly. Matting in the armpits, genital area and tuck (that little flap of skin that runs along the leg to belly area) should be shaved out. The skin here is too thin and can easily be torn with little effort.

There are many styles and sizes of brushes so pick one that fits your dog and your hand. You want to be comfortable brushing your furbaby and also you don't want to hurt them either. Slicker brushes are great for the hair on the outside and will get the surface cleaned off. But be careful with using a wire brush on a shorter haired coat. You could more easily cause scratches on the skin, especially with Labradors who are prone to dandruff already. Bristle and pin brushes have little balls on the tip of the bristles which are less likely to scratch the skin and cause more problems. Please note that you should only brush for about 15-20 minutes at a time. Any longer, a couple things can happen: 1) you bring up skin oils that can make your dog start to smell or feel greasy, 2) your dog gets tired of staying in one spot and 3) you get tired. So if you can concentrate on one or two areas at a time. You want to make home-grooming fun for you. Let the groomers do the long, involved grooming.

A couple other tools I like depending on the breed and coat are the curry or rubber "brush/comb" and the shedding blade. I love the Zoom Groom for short-haired, single-coated dogs, like Boxers, Doberman, Dalmatian. and Labradors to just name a few. With a tool like this you can use it wet or dry and get a lot of hair off. And the nice this is it won't damage the skin. The shedding blade works for some coats but not all. We used to have a Husky with longer hair that it worked wonders on, the birds loved the hair that just floated off. But I've seen it not work on others. So again, test things out to see what works for you. What works for someone else, even one with a littermate, may not work for your dog. So you can see if your groomer has any of these and can show you how to properly use them or others that might be better.

One final tool I find works great is a High Velocity or Force Dryer. They are used in salons to really force the loose hair to fly out. Now there are a lot of expensive ones out there, they can run up to $500+, but you can also find some that work great for under $100. I have used the K-9 Force Air Dryer and the K-9II dual motor. But since I'm now self-employed and groom in my pets' home, I now use a Shelandy adjustable dryer that I absolutely love! It is inexpensive (less than $100) and is light with a long enough hose with multiple attachments to use. I've had it for over 3 years and have had little to no problem with it. If you have a thick coated dog, this type of tool is for you. Look into what works for you and your situation. Believe me, if you can do it outside, the birds and other nesting animals will LOVE you.

I know you are asking about the Furminator or similar tools like it. This is one tool I have seen the good and the bad of. I personally do not and will not use it but I know a lot of my clients who do and love it. Therefore I will add it with my observations of it. First it is a blade you are using, similar to a stripping tool used on some Terrier breeds for their Breed Standards. It can be tricky to use it correctly as, being a blade with sharp, small teeth, it can cut or scratch the skin. Also as a blade I have seen that it cuts the topcoat and if you have a longer, matted breed, can it really get into the areas you need it to get the hair out? I've seen a beautiful coat be damaged by the use of this tool. I told the dad to return that, get a different tool I showed worked better, told him to add fish oil tablets to the dog's diet and add the shedless treatment to his 6 week routine. Within 3 months the dog's coat was repaired and she was back to her shiny, red shine again. I never understood how such a tool could be classed as a deshedding tool, but each his own.

Again, this is my opinion!!!

This blog is just about the tools and part of the process for a proper deshedding routine. I have heard it called many things, depending on where you do. Shedless Treatment, DeShed, No-Shed (which is one of the WORST things to call it as it gives the impression one can completely stop the natural shedding process), again it's all the same thing depending on what your grooming salon classifies it as. In my At-home business I call it a Reduce Shed, which in my mind makes the most truthful claim.

In a future blog I will attempt to address nutrition and supplements to help with the shedding and other skin and coat problems. All these tools can be purchased in your local pet store, at some grooming salon, Amazon, Ryan's Pet Supplies, and other online pet supply companies.

I hope this helps you, whether you do it at home or hire a professional to take care of your furbabies. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Any feedback is appreciated. And please, remember, these are all my opinions.

Have a PAWSOME day!!


Pawsome Styles by Nikh

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