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Tips for Dealing with a Heavy Shedding Assistance Dog

Tips for Dealing with a Heavy Shedding Assistance Dog

All dogs shed dead, damaged, and broken hair, though how much an individual dog sheds varies greatly based on breed, general health, and the season. There’s no way to stop any dog from shedding, nor should there be; it’s a natural, beneficial part of their physiology. Of course, that’s not much comfort to anyone contending with a home coated in disembodied coat. 

While you can’t stop your service dog from shedding, you can exercise control over how much of that loosened fur ends up on you, your floor, and your furniture. A little ongoing maintenance goes a long way toward keeping the situation manageable. If you’re unable to keep on top of regular grooming and housekeeping yourself, discuss the shedding with your loved ones or the professionals who help you. 

7 Simple Ways to Control Shedding 

  1. Brush your assistance dog’s coat every day or two, and daily during heavy shedding periods. It’s not only good for collecting loose hair before it ends up around the house, it also helps distribute natural skin and coat oils for a healthier look and promotes stronger bonds. 
  2. Talk to your veterinarian or groomer about which type of dog brush to use. Many different styles are available, and each one is designed specifically for a certain type of coat. To best control shedding, you need the right brush for your dog’s coat. 
  3. Bathe your service dog periodically to remove loose hairs. Use a gentle, hypoallergenic canine shampoo, as harsher products can damage the skin and coat and increase hair loss; they can also cause irritation that prompts excessive scratching, which in turn leads to more hair falling out. 
  4. Use a lint roller on your clothes and furniture surfaces that can’t be vacuumed. And use a vacuum. Obviously, proactively and regularly picking up and removing shed hair from around your home prevents it from building up into significant quantities. 
  5. Feed your dog high-quality pet foods meeting AAFCO guidelines for her nutritional needs. Her skin and coat health, like her overall health, is closely tied to the quality of her diet. 
  6. Ask your veterinarian about giving your dog an omega-3 fatty acid supplement (or using dog food or treats fortified with this nutrient). Omega-3 fatty acids offer a number of health benefits, and are particularly effective at promoting skin and coat health. 
  7. Use flea and other pest control products as recommended by your vet. External biting parasites like fleas, mites, lice, ticks, and mosquitoes cause itchiness. As mentioned above, this triggers scratching and scratching pulls out, damages, and breaks hair. 

Concerns About Excessive Shedding 

Excessive shedding is difficult to define, since shedding varies by individual dog. If you’re concerned about it, talk to your vet, as excessive hair loss can be a warning sign or symptom of a health problem. Also, if you notice thinning or dull hair; bald patches; skin irritation or symptoms like redness, bumps, rash, etc.; sores; repetitive localized scratching, licking, or chewing; or hair that pulls out easily, these call for timely medical attention. 

Some common causes of excessive shedding (or scratching, which leads to more shedding) include: 

  • Allergic skin conditions
  • Food allergies
  • Parasitic infections
  • Fungal or bacterial infections
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Some medication side effects
  • Thyroid, adrenal, liver, kidney, or other gland/organ dysfunction
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Certain cancers 

Related Reading 

Learn more about basic grooming here, and about bathing your assistance dog here. 

References:

Doctors Foster and Smith: Shed Busting Tips for a Cleaner Home

VetStreet: My Dog Sheds Like Crazy, What Can I Do?

WebMD: Excessive Shedding in Dogs

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