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If your vacuum cleaner is getting clogged with hair, it's a good bet that shedding season has begun. Whether you have a cat, a dog or both, shedding can be a headache to deal with. Learn about shedding season for both dogs & cats, and how to deal with excess pet hair in your home.
When Do Dogs and Cats Shed?
While dogs and cats shed year-round, shedding tends to reach a peak in the spring and fall, says PetHelpful. This is especially true for pets who spend a lot of time outdoors. In the fall, pets shed old hair growth to make room for new hair that will help them stay warm in the winter. In the spring, they shed all that extra hair.
Phases of Pet Hair Growth
In general, cats' and dogs' coats go through a yearly cycle of growth that includes four phases:
- Anagen phase: New hair grows in.
- Catagen phase: Hair reaches full length and stops growing.
- Telogen phase: Hair is at rest, neither growing nor being shed.
- Exogen phase: Hair is shed.
Pet Breeds Known for Cyclical Shedding
Dogs with thick double coats tend to be seasonal shedders, with heavy undercoats that shed in the spring and fall. These include breeds like Akitas, collies, German shepherds, Siberian huskies and Welsh corgis. When they shed, thick hair from the undercoat works its way to the surface in large clumps.
Some cat breeds with double coats or denser coats also shed seasonally. These include Siberian, Russian blue, ragdoll and American bobtail cats.
Not all dogs and cats shed cyclically. Single-coated and short-haired breeds generally shed hair year-round. Long hours spent indoors under artificial lighting can also disrupt the shedding cycle — even in breeds that are known for seasonal shedding — causing them instead to shed a lesser amount steadily throughout the year.
For indoor cats, cat shedding season isn't triggered by temperature, but by exposure to light, says PetPlace. The lengthening of daylight hours in the spring triggers the shedding of the additional hair that grew during the winter. In the fall, the shortening of days has the opposite effect, triggering new hair to grow in preparation for winter. But first, your cat will shed their dead hair to make room for the new growth.
How to Deal With Dog & Cat Shedding Seasons
Regular grooming and brushing is the best way to keep shedding under control. For double-coated dogs, use a brush made for stripping dead hair from the undercoat. For cats, a brush designed specifically for cats can be more effective at capturing dead hair than a standard pet brush. Paying special attention to the health of your pet's skin and hair can also help, since illnesses and skin conditions can exacerbate shedding. Also, be sure to feed your pet dog or cat food that promotes healthy skin and hair.
As for your home, here are a few ways to keep pet hair from taking over:
- Regularly vacuum rugs and carpets. A daily pass with a robotic vacuum can help, but if pet hair is excessive, you'll still need to do an occasional vacuum with a more powerful device. If you have more than one furry pet, you might want to consider investing in a vacuum cleaner designed especially to deal with pet hair.
- Sweep hardwood floors with a microfiber sweeper that uses static electricity to attract and trap hair and dander, or use a broom specially made for sweeping up pet hair.
- If you allow your pets on furniture, cover chairs and sofas with machine-washable slipcovers or throws and wash them at least once a week.
- Keep lint rollers or brushes handy to remove pet hair from clothing and from surfaces where your vacuum can't reach.
- If all else fails, toss furry clothes into the dryer with a dryer sheet for 20 minutes.
Few dog or cat parents can avoid pet shedding. While you might find dealing with the hair a bit bothersome, it's a minor annoyance when compared with the love and joy your pet brings you.
Jean Marie Bauhaus
Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet lover, freelance writer and novelist. She currently lives in the Ozarks with her husband and their gaggle of four-footed dependents, where she enjoys watching a wide array of wild animals in her back yard while drinking her morning coffee.