By Jim Tedford, Director of Animal Welfare Initiatives and Alliances
Does an invitation to visit your home come with a warning not to wear black and to take an extra allergy shot ahead of time? Is your vacuum cleaner your most prized possession? Do you marvel at the fact that your pet is not bald despite the fact that he seems to shed enough to make a new litter of puppies every day? You are not alone! There are tens of thousands of animal lovers out there who fight the good fight against pet hair tumbleweeds each and every day.
There is not a surface in my house… or in my LIFE, for that matter, that isn’t covered in Lab/Corgi/Jack Russell Terrier fur. While we seem to get the occasional break, during most times of the year one or all of our dogs shed profusely. Our household is probably better prepared than most. We have an ample supply of lint rollers –the sticky kind and the big sheets of reverse masking tape variety! We have a central vacuum system (a necessity when we built our house---windows were optional, but the vacuum was a MUST!). We are careful in our wardrobe color choices. And, most importantly, we long ago surrendered to a life of pet hair.
The truth is, we LOVE our dogs and are extraordinarily dedicated to their comfort and safety. We are the “THAT guy” of pet owners! Yet even we occasionally get fed up with dog hair. Last time I took my dogs to the kennel for boarding, it took over two hours of vacuuming and lint-rolling to get the hair out of my car. So, what can be done about this pandemic? Honestly, not much…it’s mostly about adjusting our attitudes and learning to live with it. You don’t have to embrace it, but you do have to LIVE with it. And, aren’t they worth it? When I weigh the unconditional love – the biggest reward of pet ownership—against a little (or a LOT) of loose dog hair, the love will always win. Sure, there are some measures one can take.
Daily brushing is probably the most impactful, but sadly I don’t have an extra three hours built into my routine to get it done. I even purchased a vacuum cleaner attachment designed to brush pets while sucking up loose fur. It works (sort of), but I challenge anyone out there to convince Sam, my 90+ pound yellow Lab, that getting vacuumed is a good idea! It’s like trying to hold down a wild pony (or 3) for a good vacuuming.
Daily house cleaning is another option. So is having Harry Potter over for tea and crumpets, but neither is likely to happen in anybody’s real world. Just do your best to keep your head above fur level as much as possible. Some folks opt to have their pets shaved to minimize shedding. They pay a groomer to sort of artificially shed their pet all at once! That may work in theory, but there are a few problems with it. One: it gets cold in some places and pets have fur coats for a reason. Two: hair grows back…and pets shed even when they’ve been robbed of their coats. Three: it often just looks odd. You wouldn’t want to go around naked and exposed…and your pets don’t much care for it either.
My advice? If pet hair is a deal-breaker for you, be very selective in your breed of choice. Most all pets shed, but how much they shed varies significantly from one breed to another. Speak with your veterinarian about the types of pets you should consider. Secondly, invest in a really good pet brush and be prepared to use it as much as possible. And, finally, just learn to live with it and accept the fact that all that tail wagging and those slobbery wet kisses come at a price. And, a small price it is when compared to the love we get from our pets.
How do you cope with your pet's shedding season?
Jim Tedford serves as PetSafe’s Director of Animal Welfare Initiatives and Alliances. Working on the front line of animal welfare for over 20 years, Jim has served as CEO for organizations in New York, Louisiana and Tennessee. Prior to joining PetSafe, Jim provided marketing and fundraising services to animal welfare organizations nationwide. Jim holds a degree in animal science from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Jim and his wife Ann share their “empty nest” in the Smoky Mountains with adopted dogs Bodie, Sam, and Lila and a formerly homeless macaw, Gipper.