Avoiding a Hairy Situation
Shedding is a common complaint among pet owners, but retailers and groomers are well positioned to provide them with necessary information and products to address the issue.
Contrary to common belief, while it is certainly true that some breeds shed more than others, there is no such thing as a dog with hair that doesn’t shed. The difference lies in whether most of the shed hair easily slides out of the coat—as in the case of Pugs, German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers, for example—or whether the shed hair gets stuck in the live coat, causing matting in the case of Poodles, Doodles, Lhasas and the like.
Of course, in some cases, shedding may indicate a health issue. Thin, brittle coat, heavy shedding out of season, and other coat problems can be signs of a hormonal imbalance or illness that should be checked by a veterinarian. Other times, the problem is a nutritional deficiency that can be remedied by supplements containing lecithin or other fatty acids, such as Lambert Kay’s Linatone Shed Relief. Most often, though, the dog simply sheds more than the owner would like, and the owner wants to know how to get rid of the knots or the shed hair throughout the home.
Retailers can help by making sure customers select the right products for the breed they have. The appropriate tool or product can make a world of difference in a pet owner’s efforts to keep a dog healthy and the house clean.
Renee Jones, director of marketing for Furminator, says that since consumers can be overwhelmed by the different types and brands of tools available, retailers should be sure to stock the basics and necessities. Furminator offers slicker brushes and combs for longer-haired dogs, but the company’s best-known product—used by professionals and pet owners alike—is its deShedding tool. “If the objective of the consumer is to control or manage shedding, this is the best tool,” says Jones.
Although it is not the least-expensive option, the deShedding tool may be among the most cost effective. For most short to medium coats, this is often the only tool pet owners need to buy, according to Jones. The company recommends that pet parents use the tool weekly to control shedding and maintain coat at optimum levels. Most of the hair an animal sheds is comprised of secondary coat, or undercoat, so a tool is needed to remove that hidden portion of the hair. “Dogs with secondary coats may have 1,000 to 2,000 hairs per square centimeter, and the Furminator deShedding tool can reduce shedding of this up to 90 pecent,” she says.
Another aspect of the Furminator tools that may be attractive to shoppers is that it comes with a 30-day guarantee. If the customer does not like the results, they can bring the tool back for a full refund.
Drew Clark, director of sales and marketing for Resco Pet Products, says that the company’s slicker brushes are fantastic for shedding on longer coats. “Two levels of teeth give them extra strength to remove all loose hair from your animal’s coat, and they are bent at an angle to help penetrate deeper into the coat and pull out more hair,” he says. The ergonomic rubber handles also make them comfortable to hold.
Shampoos, conditioners and sprays are another part of the deshedding equation. Pet Head’s Andrea Garcia recommends the company’s Dog’s B.F.F Tangle Fix Spray for detangling medium to long hair. Dog’s B.F.F. is a light detangling spray conditioner with aloe vera and vitamin E. “Spray lightly in dry hair for in-between grooming, and spray liberally after bath to help brush through wet coat,” says Garcia.
The market offers numerous sprays that make brushing more effective, reduce static electricity and keep dogs smelling sweet. For example, Lambert Kay offers Fresh N Clean ProGroom (aerosol) and Fresh N Clean No Tangle Spray for longer coats, among others.
Marvin Ledford, general manager at EQyss Grooming Products, says, “The best way to control shedding is to minimize it by keeping the coat and skin healthy. If the skin cannot breathe, the coat will not be healthy, and may shed more. EQyss’ Premier Color Intensifying Shampoo is natural and botanical. It does not coat the skin and hair, and it leaves no alcohol, waxes or detergents on the skin, allowing coat and skin to breathe.”
If the coat and skin are dry, the animal will shed more. Premier Rehydrant Spray wicks moisture from the air into the coat and skin. When used daily, a light misting prevents dryness from setting in, keeping shedding to a minimum. EQyss products also come with an unconditional guarantee. If a pet owner doesn’t like it and brings it back to the store for a refund, EQyss will reimburse the retailer. Telling a shopper this can easily close a sale. “[Retailers] will never lose money on EQyss products, especially since they have an excellent retail markup compared to other brands,” Ledford adds.
In addition to tools, Furminator offers a natural, hypoallergenic and paraben-free deshedding shampoo and conditioner that contain a proprietary shedding complex that helps loosen the secondary coat, making deshedding after the bath more effective.
Still, while there are many products on the market to minimize shedding, retailers may need to explain to customers that solving shedding issues often takes some work. For example, hair on the floor will need to be vacuumed, and the dog’s coat will need to be brushed or deshed in some manner. Fortunately, sometimes the two can be combined—Furminator has a vacuum accessory that holds the company’s deShedding tool.
No matter the breed, brushing will help control shedding, and it also contributes to the overall health of coat and skin. Brushing massages skin, improving the blood supply that carries necessary nutrients, and it helps distribute the natural oils and sebum over skin and hair, adding to the animal’s natural weatherproofing and providing a healthy sheen.
Once a dog’s coat is heavily matted, a groomer may need to painfully demat, or even shave the animal completely if knots, mats or dead coat are too extensive to brush out. Preventing this is relatively easy for pet owners with a bit of help and guidance from pet retailers or groomers. The right tool and possibly a spray to make the brushing easier are usually all that’s needed. Shampoos and conditioners that specifically target shedding can be helpful, and nutritional aids with ingredients such as omega-3 and -6 fatty acids are useful, and they are good sellers in the anti-shed arsenal as well.
Carol Visser is a Nationally Certified Master Groomer and Certified Pet Dog Trainer. Formerly a pet product expert for PetEdge, she and her husband Glenn now own Two Canines Pet Services in Montville, Maine, which provides grooming, boarding, training and day care services to Waldo County.
What’s on the Market: Grooming Tools
Bass Brushes (bassbrushes.net) feature triple-sectioned bristling that gives the user three brush strokes in one. The outer layer of metal pin tufts gently yet thoroughly detangles the coat and removes large particles. The middle layer of pure boar conditions the hair by distributing natural oils, leaving a healthy shine and protective layer over your pet’s coat. Finally, the outer layer of metal pins passes through the hair once again to smooth and separate the conditioned hair.
JW Pet Gripsoft Adjustable Loop De Shedding Tool, by Petmate (petmate.com), has three curved oval-shaped blades with tiny coarse and fine teeth attached to a soft ergonomically correct handle. This tool is designed to remove large amounts of dead and shedding fur. The De Shedder also helps to reduce mats when used regularly. The unique-looped blade slides in and out of handle to create a variety of sizes suitable for large or tight grooming areas, as well as multiple pets.
Shed-X Dermaplex, by SynergyLabs (synergylabs.com), is an all-natural supplement designed to eliminate excessive shedding in three to four weeks, while providing coat and skin conditioning for dogs and cats. Shed-X Dermaplex is a 100-percent naturally fortified antioxidant solution that is rich in omega 3- and 6- fatty acids. Other nutritional ingredients include Norwegian anchovies and sardine oil, organic flaxseed oil, wheat-germ oil and green tea extract.