If you share your home with one or more dogs that shed heavily, you’ll understand how frustrating it can be to keep your floors and furniture hair-free.
Thankfully, there are some really great home remedies that can help you manage the shedding in a safe, natural and effective way. And in this post, I’ll be sharing my top six ideas.
Here’s an overview of each method:
- Healthy, Balanced Diet
- Proper Brushing
- Homemade Dog Shampoo
- Natural Supplements
- Essential Oils
- Adequate Hydration
These are simple home remedies I’ve used over the years that have worked really well, so I’m confident you’ll be able to use at least one of these to win the battle against shedding.
That said, I do recommend speaking with a qualified veterinarian before trying any of these home shedding remedies on your dog. Because some dogs can be intolerant or even allergic to certain ingredients, even if they are 100% natural, so it pays to exercise some caution.
In any case, let’s take a closer look at each method.
1. Healthy, Balanced Diet
The first and most important consideration when it comes to reducing shedding is your dog’s diet. Ensuring your dog is enjoying an optimal diet that contains all of the natural vitamins, minerals and nutrients she needs is essential.
Not only can this help your dog thrive, and reduce the chance of excess shedding caused by a poor diet, but the right dog food can help improve the skin and coat. Which matters because dry skin and hair is one of the leading causes of dog shedding.
Which dog food is best?
There are lots of different dog foods on the market, so knowing which one is best can be difficult. Personally, however, I look for kibble that contains high quality ingredients, is grain-free and that contains the least amount of artificial flavors, colors and preservatives.
I also look for kibble that’s rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, as this is known to help improve a dogs skin and hair, which in turn can help reduce excessive shedding.
See our top dog food picks and buyer’s guide to learn more.
You could also try a natural homemade wet food diet, or even a raw food diet. There are some controversies around the raw food diet, but is is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to dry food. I personally use it as an occasional substitute to kibble because it can promote a healthier skin and coat, especially if it contains ingredients like fish and coconut oil.
Keep in mind, however, that not all wet food/raw food diets are optimal.
Some are highly processed and made with low quality ingredients. And even if it’s made from 100% natural ingredients, it’s important to make sure the food is providing your dog with all of the nutrition he needs. In other words, it’s important to make sure it’s well-balanced.
This is why I recommend speaking to a qualified veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet. That way, you can be confident your dog is getting the nutrition she needs.
2. Proper Brushing
Brushing isn’t a “remedy” as such, but it is one of the most effective methods of reducing the amount of hair your dog drops throughout the home.
And the reason for this is two-fold.
First, brushing removes the dead hair from your dog’s coat before it has a chance to fall off. So regular brushing can significantly limit how much hair you find on your floors and furniture.
Second, brushing massages your dog’s skin and helps spread his natural coat oils, which in turn can help improve the condition of your dog’s skin and hair and help prevent excess shedding.
Which brush should you use?
The best brush to use really depends on your dog’s coat type.
For example, for dogs with a shorter coat, using a simple bristle brush should do the trick. While a slicker brush is better for dogs with a thicker coat. And in both cases, you could also use a deshedding tool to remove as much of the dead fur as possible.
We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to choosing the best dog shedding brush if you want to learn more. But the basic idea is to get the right brush for your dog, and brush routinely, as this can make a big difference to the shedding overall.
3. Homemade Dog Shampoo
Bathing is a really effective way to remove the loose hairs in the bathtub. And in conjunction with a good brushing routine, can make the world of difference to shedding.
There’s some really great natural dog shedding shampoos you can buy, too. But if you want to use ingredients that are easily obtained from the local store, or that you have in the pantry, and you want to know exactly what’s in it, homemade shampoos are a great alternative.
The most popular of these is probably oatmeal shampoo which can help a dog’s skin retain moisture as well as help soothe itchy and irritated skin given its natural anti-inflammatory properties. This makes oatmeal the ideal base for a homemade dog shampoo.
And while there are a bunch of different recipes out there, it’s really easy to make.
Simply mix one cup of uncooked, ground up oatmeal with a quart of warm water. That’s it. Some recipes suggest adding a small amount of baking soda, or other ingredients, but this is optional.
Once you’ve made the shampoo, you just need to bath your dog as normal. For optimal results, let the shampoo sit on the coat for a few minutes before rinsing and drying. And keep in mind that homemade shampoos typically don’t last as long as those that contain chemicals and preservatives, so it’s generally better to only make what you’re going to use on the day.
Here’s a useful video I found that walks you through the process:
Another thing to consider when making dog shampoo is fleas. Fleas can cause something called Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD) which can cause dryness and irritation on your dog’s skin, which in turn can lead to excessive shedding. And while it’s best to use a proper vet recommended flea treatment, some people prefer natural alternatives.
And there are some great natural flea shampoo recipes out there. For example, the American Kennel Club has a homemade dog shampoo for fleas that may be worth trying out.
Just keep in mind that not all natural ingredients are safe to use. And even though many are safe, they can cause health issues if your dog ingests them, especially in high doses. So you should always speak to your local vet before bathing your dog with any homemade shampoo.
It’s also important to avoid over bathing, as this can lead to skin dryness. This is unlikely to be an issue when bathing your dog with something like oatmeal for example, but any shampoo with harsh chemicals could dry out your dog’s skin and actually worsen the shedding.
4. Natural Supplements
In conjunction with proper diet and grooming, natural supplements can be a great way to help reduce shedding. And among the most popular are coconut oil, olive oil and fish oil.
Virgin Coconut Oil
Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides (MCT), which is a type of healthy fat that is known to benefit skin and hair. This makes it a great natural supplement for helping dogs develop a healthier, moisture rich skin and coat.
I personally only use high quality virgin coconut oil though, because of the way it’s made. Basically, virgin coconut oil is extracted from fresh coconut milk without using heat or exposing it to sunlight. So it’s essentially a purer, less processes form of coconut oil.
Some like to use coconut oil topically (applied directly to the skin), while others choose to add a small amount to their dog’s food. Either way is fine, but I personally prefer the latter approach.
Just be careful not to add to much of it to your dog’s food, as it can cause an upset tummy and even diarrhoea if you use too much, especially if you’re dog isn’t used to it.
This is why I typically start with half a teaspoon in my dog’s evening meal, and see how it goes from there, and I never use more than a tablespoon each day.
Learn more: Does Coconut Oil Really Help With Dog Shedding?
Virgin Olive Oil
Like coconut oil, olive oil is a great natural shedding supplement that can be used either topically or added to a dog’s food. The difference with olive oil, however, is the way it works.
Olive oil contains omega-3 and omega-6 healthy fatty acids which are essential nutrients that your dog is only able to get from her diet. Omega-6 is commonly found in most kibble, so it’s not something most dogs need to be supplemented with. On the other hand, omega-3 is known to naturally benefit a dog’s skin and hair, and makes a great supplement for shedding.
What type of olive oil is best? I only use quality virgin olive oil because, like virgin coconut oil, it’s not as processed and retains more of its natural goodness during production.
Learn more: Does Olive Oil Reduce Dog Shedding?
Fish oil is, in my opinion, a better shedding supplement than virgin olive oil. Not just from the results I’ve noticed over the years, but also due to what I’ve learned through research.
Basically, fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which can help with shedding. However, unlike olive oil, which contains plant-based omega-3 known as ALA, fish oil contains DHA and EPA omega-3.
What’s the difference?
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is derived from plant-based sources of omega-3 like olive oil, is converted by the body into eicosapentaenoic acid (DHA) and docosahexaenoic acid (EPA).
The reason this matters is because, according to Today’s Veterinary Practice, dogs can only convert a small amount of ALA into DHA and EPA types of omega-3.
So it’s generally considered more efficient to supplement with fish oil, and other marine sources of omega-3, rather than plant-based omega-3, since this already contains DHA and EPA. Which may be why most shedding supplements contain some form of fish oil.
You don’t need to buy a supplement though. Some people prefer to feed their dog fish or other marine-sources of omega 3 such as seaweed on occasion instead. Either way, make sure you don’t give your dog too much, as it is possible to overdose a dog on fish oil.
Learn more: Does Fish Oil Stop Dog Shedding?
5. Essential Oils
There is no essential oil that specifically combats shedding.
However, some essential oils may help with things like dry, irritated skin and to help add moisture to your dog’s skin. Which, in turn, may help reduce excessive shedding.
The results are mixed and mostly anecdotal, so how well these work for shedding is really going to depend on the individual dog and the essential oil you choose.
Either way, before using any essential oil, I recommend that you check to make sure it’s safe for your dog, because some aren’t safe. Also, keep in mind that dogs lick themselves. So whatever you put on their skin could be ingested, which is why I always err on the side of caution with essential oils or anything I put on my dog’s skin.
What essential oils are best for shedding?
Some popular essential oils include chamomile oil, jojoba oil and lavender oil. Each of these have their own unique characteristics and are generally considered safe to use on a dog’s skin.
For example, according to healthline.com, chamomile and lavender oil may help relieve dry, irritated skin. And jojoba oil is considered good for the skin as it contains healthy fatty acids.
Whatever essential oils you decide to use, it’s always important to dilute these because high concentrations of any essential oil could be harmful to a dog. So I always dilute the essential oil with a “carrier oil” like olive oil or coconut oil.
The rate of dilution varies depending on your dog’s weight and other factors like the oil you’re using, but I personally follow a 1/25 ratio. For example, one drop of lavender oil to 25 drops of coconut oil.
But again, I’m not a veterinarian. So I recommend you speak to your local veterinarian before applying any essential oils to your dog at all just to be on the safe side.
6. Adequate Hydration
Adequate hydration is really important for a dog’s overall health and wellbeing, and as a result can impact the condition of their coat and how much they shed.
How much water should your dog be drinking?
According to PetMD:
In general, dogs should drink approximately 1 ounce of water (1/8 of a cup) per pound of body weight each day. However, there are many factors that can affect how much your dog will drink, so you should not be restricting your dog’s water intake.Source: petmd.com
Some folks take this a step further and give their dog filtered water, which is fine, but tap water is often sufficient as long as it’s clean and fresh. The important thing is to ensure your dog is getting enough water on a daily basis, to keep them in top shape and help minimize shedding.
Shedding is something most dog owners have to contend with, but there are some really great (natural) ways to minimize it which we’ve discussed in this post.
Once you’ve got the shedding under control, there are some other things you can do to keep your home as hair-free as possible. For example, you can use a vacuum that’s specifically designed to pick up loose dog fur, or get an air purifier to remove dog hair and dander from the air, which can be particularly worthwhile if you’re concerned about dog allergies.
Either way, while there’s no stopping shedding completely, hopefully this post has given you some worthwhile ideas on how to manage it and limit how much time you spend cleaning it up.