We’ve been traveling for over 10 years and we didn’t have a pet for all of that time. One of the first things we did after we settled into our own home back in NZ was to head to the SPCA and collect a big old cat called Phoebe.
We had missed having any pets while we were away and it is nice seeing how this furry creature happily settles into our day to day life. There are two things we haven’t enjoyed about having a cat though - the fur that accumulates on couches and beds as Phoebe follows us and the sun, and cleaning up the occasional furball chunder.
I have to confess that at Pure and Wholesome I’m much more the web guy than the out and out fanatical animal lover that Andrea is but as it’s usually my job to vacuum the couch to get rid of the mass of fur and I’m also a 50% stakeholder in the chunder clean ups, it was time to learn more about the fur shedding of cats and dogs and understand the various pet grooming and diet products that can help with any hair related issues.
Start with understanding the hair / fur
The professional pet product brand Furminator specialise in animal grooming products and have a comprehensive article about the science of fur. They start by explaining that a basic understanding of hair will help us understand the shedding of pets.
It is interesting that each individual hair follicle can be at a different stage of the growth cycle and different animals will experience varying levels of each hair stage.
Why do cats and dogs shed?
Furminator explain that the seasons have a big impact on shedding. It’s no surprise that as we move into the warmer or cooler months that shedding can become heavier as our pets prepare for the changing seasons. Interestingly science indicates that it’s actually the amount of daylight rather than the temperature that actually determines shedding cycle.
Double coated dogs like golden retrievers, labradors, and a range of terriers will typically shed their undercoats twice per year. The undercoat forms a key role in insulating your dog and can shed at a different time to the top coat. Dogs that live primarily inside can shed a little all year round whereas outside dogs can have more defined shedding seasons.
Similarly, cats will typically shed throughout the year but the heaviest time is during spring and autumn as the seasons change and your cat prepares for the different temperatures.When it comes to shedding it seems that nature takes a very practical approach to looking after your pooch or puss. Furminator highlight that there can be a range of other factors that affect the shedding of hair by dogs and cats such as:
- Poor nutrition - a dietary lack of protein or certain nutrients such as B vitamins, copper or zinc
- Stress, anxiety, fear - can all lead to hair loss. Temporary stress my result in heightened shedding for just a few days but ongoing stress can result in higher levels of shedding. Stress can also lead to an animal self grooming at a higher rate than normal which may result in excessive hair loss
- Under grooming - can be a sign of illness
- Skin infections
- Parasites - fleas, mites or ringworm
- Bathing too often, or using the wrong shampoo, can result in the hair becoming too dry
Why groom your cat or dog?
Cats are great at keeping themselves clean but during their self grooming they can swallow nearly 70% of the shed hair! Cats will digest their own hair but hairballs can form in their stomach which they then vomit out to clear any obstruction. Hairballs can also form in the intestine which can cause constipation or a blockage. The result is not pretty with any type of hairball and grooming your cat with a deshedding tool significantly reduces the amount of hair that is ingested.
The great feature of Furminator’s patented deshedding tools is that the stainless steel deshedding brush edge removes up to 90% of loose hair by pushing through the topcoat to gently remove the undercoat and loose hair. By removing the loose hair you also have the bonus of less loose hair to end up on your sofa or bed or your jersey you left lying around or… everywhere else she loves to have a fur party.
As dog tongues are smooth they are less prone to ingesting their hair and less prone to hairballs but long-haired dogs can still get hairballs. Grooming can also promote a shiny healthy coat by stimulating secretions from glands in the skin which weatherproof the hair.
Furminator have more guidance about how to groom in their Science Of Fur article
What about other remedies for hairballs?
Due to the unpleasant job of cleaning up hair and hair messes I also wanted to learn about other remedies for reducing or eliminating Phoebe's hairballs as much as possible.
Hairball control treats such as VetIQ Healthy Bites contain ingredients such as dietary fibre which help the hairballs move through the digestive system.
We’ve started using the Furminator deshedding tool for cats, they have small and large sized tools for different size of pets and different hair lengths.
We’ve been grooming big Phoebe with the Furminator and providing the hairball treats for about one month and so far she hasn’t had a hairball vomit episode. The chunder on the bed was the last straw!
VetIQ’s Skin & Coat is an edible skin and coat conditioner for both dogs and cats with highly concentrated Omega-3, 6 & 9 fatty acids which are great for a glossy coat. Vitamin E has been included to help soothe dry and flaky skin and to reduce non-seasonal shedding.
M&C Skin and Coat dog treats help reduce shedding and moulting as well as working to soften your dog's coat and make it shiny and strong. Each treat contains Omega 3 fatty acids, essential vitamins that help maintain a healthy skin and coat, biotin and antioxidants to help soften your dog's coat and leave it looking smooth and shiny. These treats help alleviate dry and flaky skin and non-seasonal shedding. Both Dogs and puppies love these treats so they can be used for treat based training while giving your dog a nutrition boost.
Deshedding shampoos for dogs
While most cats will probably attempt to deshed the skin on your arms if you bath them, it’s a different story for dogs so you have the additional benefit of shampoos and conditioners which help with deshedding your dog.
Remember that dry hair can lead to increased shedding so it’s important to use shampoos and conditioners that have been designed for dogs. Furminator and Nature's Miracle have a range of premium natural shampoos and conditioners designed to help with deshedding by releasing the undercoat during bathing.
Cat and dog food for good coat and fur health
As mentioned above poor nutrition can have a direct effect on the health of the coats of your dogs and cats. Protein is needed to grow hair and high quality dog and cat food is high in protein. Pet food high in Omega 3 oils can also promote a healthy skin and coat.
Harringtons food are rich in Omega 3 oils which promote a healthy skin and coat. Barking Heads and Meowing Heads are high quality pet foods and they are a great brand for providing a range of foods for specific requirements. Meowing Heads Hey Good Looking natural cat food has been specifically designed to promote a shiny coat. Barking Heads Bad Hair Day natural dog food is made with 50% lamb so it’s high in protein and promotes a shiny coat and healthy skin.
So there you have it. There is quite a bit to know about good fur health and with a little understanding hopefully it means there will be far fewer hairball incidents and I’ve got less need for this: