Virtually all dogs shed, and in most cases, it’s perfectly normal.
It’s also not something you can completely “stop” either. Your dog needs to shed his old hair so that the new hair can take its place, which is all part of the natural hair growth cycle.
However, there are some really effective ways to stop excessive shedding, minimize the amount of hair your dog drops on your floors and furniture, and make cleaning it up much easier.
And in this post, I’m going to be walking you through how to do this, so that you can spend more time enjoying your dog’s company, and less time cleaning up loose fur.
How To Stop Your Dog Shedding Excessively
When you boil it all down, reducing shedding mostly comes down to two things – ensuring your dog’s diet is optimal, and establishing a proper grooming routine. That’s it.
Once you get these two things right, you’re most of the way there. The other methods I mention in this post either build off of these or give you additional ideas to manage the shedding.
In any case, here’s an overview of the methods we’ll be discussing in this post:
- Ensure Your Dog’s Diet Is Optimal
- Try an Omega-3 Shedding Supplement
- Consider a Natural Home Remedy
- Ensure Your Dog is Adequately Hydrated
- Bath Your Dog With a Proper Dog Shampoo
- Brush Your Dog With the Right Brush
- Use a Dog Hair Blower
- Take Control of Fleas
- Make Sure Your Dog Is Getting Enough Exercise
- Try a Dog Shedding Onesie
- Get a Dog Hair Vacuum Cleaner
- Use an Air Purifier for Pet Hair and Dander
- Speak To Your Local Veterinarian
You can click on any method listed above to skip right to it, or continue reading to learn about the different ways of reducing shedding at your own pace.
1. Ensure Your Dog’s Diet Is Optimal
There’s no such thing as a dog food that completely stops shedding, but what you feed your dog can have an impact on his overall health and wellbeing, as well as how much he sheds.
And there are a couple main reasons for this.
Firstly, making sure your dog is consuming a healthy, balanced diet can help ensure that he’s healthy and thriving, and in turn prevent excessive shedding caused by poor nutrition.
Here’s what PetMD says about the importance of diet:
Each and every nutrient in your dog’s food has a purpose. Without adequate nutrition, your dog would not be able to maintain muscle tone, build and repair muscles, teeth, and bone, perform normal daily activities with ease or fight-off infection. Proteins provide a source of energy and help with muscle function and growth. Fats provide energy, help the brain function, and keep the skin and hair coat shiny and healthy. Carbohydrates supply a source of quick energy that allow your dog to be active and energetic. Vitamins and minerals are necessary for muscle contraction and nerve conduction and they work to prevent disease.Source: petmd.com
So getting your dog’s diet right is key to ensuring that both he and his coat are as healthy as possible, which in turn can help prevent unnecessary shedding.
Which dog food is best for shedding?
There’s a lot of great kibble on the market, and most of the popular brands provide at least adequate nutrition. However, some dog foods are better than others, and some are specifically made to help alleviate excessive shedding.
For example, some dog foods contain less “fillers” like grains and rice and more high quality protein. Others contain less additives, preservatives and artificial ingredients, which can potentially lead to allergies and skin irritation. And some contain a more optimal amount of omega-3 fatty acids, along with other vitamins and nutrients, to help with shedding.
So it pays to do your homework before deciding.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on “fancy” dog food, but the food your dog consumes can make a big difference to how much fur he drops.
Speak to your vet about which food is best for your dog, as they should be able to give you a recommendation based on your dog’s individual needs. And if you want to see which ones we like, see our top rated dog foods for shedding and buyer’s guide.
2. Try an Omega-3 Shedding Supplement
Nothing takes the place of a healthy, balanced diet. But there are some great supplements out there for dogs aimed at reducing shedding that actually work.
And the most popular supplements typically include some form of omega-3, which is an essential fatty acid that dogs can only get through diet.
The reason Omega-3 is such a popular supplement is because it’s known to help improve a dog’s skin and coat, which in turn can reduce excessive shedding.
And there are two different sources of omega-3 fatty acids:
- Plant-based omega-3 and;
- Marine omega-3
Plant-based omega-3 is derived from things like flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds and green vegetables. And it contains a type of omega-3 known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which, according to healthline.com, needs to be converted by the body into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) before it can be fully utilized.
Why does this matter?
Because neither dogs nor humans are very good at converting ALA into DHA and EPA. Therefore, it is generally considered that a better source of omega-3 for shedding is marine omega-3, which is derived from things like fish oil, seaweed and algae, since it already contains EPA and DHA.
This is probably why the majority of popular supplements on the market contain fish oil, since this is rich in EPA and DHA omega-3. However, some supplements contain a mix of both plant-based and marine omega-3, along with other vitamins and minerals.
Like dog food, there is no supplement that can completely stop shedding, but some can be very effective, and we share our top supplement picks in this guide.
3. Consider a Natural Home Remedy
This is similar to the previous method of using a supplement to reduce shedding, but instead of buying a chew treat, capsule, or bottle of oil for example, you can use ingredients that are, in most cases, readily available at your local supermarket or that are already in the pantry.
Which home remedies actually work?
There are lots of different ideas out there, and while I haven’t tried all of them, I have researched and/or tried some of the most common ones. And what I’ve found is that the most effective are coconut oil or some form of omega-3 (like olive oil or fish oil for example).
Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides (MCT) which is a type of healthy fat that can benefit dogs in a variety of ways, either as a supplement or applied to the skin topically. When it comes to shedding, however, the main benefit is its effect of naturally moisturizing the skin.
Olive oil and fish oil, however, both contain omega-3. Which, as I mentioned earlier, is an essential fatty acid that’s good for dogs in general and that can help improve the condition of their coat. The main difference between olive oil and fish oil is that the former contains plat-based omega-3, while the latter is marine sourced omega-3. But both can be beneficial.
Other natural home shedding remedies include essential oils such as lavender oil and chamomile oil, which have been used for thousands of years for a variety of purposes including soothing the skin. These are considered a safe and effective shedding remedy if used correctly.
And there are many others. Whichever home remedy or supplement you decide to try though, always consult a qualified veterinarian first. Because not all “remedies” people suggest are safe. And even if they are, giving your dog too much could lead to health problems.
4. Ensure Your Dog is Adequately Hydrated
One simple and often overlooked way to reduce shedding is to ensure your dog is drinking enough water. This is super important to your dog’s overall health and wellbeing, and can impact shedding in a variety of ways. For example, inadequate water intake could lead to dry skin, which in turn could lead to skin irritation, hair follicles weakening, and hair falling out unnecessarily.
How much water is enough?
The general consensus is that dogs should be drinking approximately 1 ounce of water (1/8 of a cup) per pound of body weight each day. That’s just a guide though, so if your dog is thirsty because she’s been outside playing, let her drink.
Some folks even give their dog filtered water, which is great, but as long as the water is clean and fresh, tap water should be fine.
5. Bath Your Dog With a Proper Dog Shampoo
Bathing is a great way to loosen and remove the old, dead hairs on your dog’s coat, before they have a chance to fill your home, and to help keep his skin and hair in optimal condition.
However, there are some important caveats to this.
First, it’s important to use a good quality shampoo that doesn’t contain a bunch of harsh chemicals that could dry out, or irritate, your dog’s skin. This is why I personally avoid using a human shampoo, and stick with using one that’s designed for dogs. Some are even designed specifically to loosen and remove the dead fur, while also reducing future shedding.
You could even try a homemade dog shampoo, like one made from oatmeal for example, if you want something that’s really gentle on your dog’s skin and one that adds moisture.
Second, try to avoid over-bathing. Because even if you’re using a proper dog shampoo, bathing too frequently may diminish the natural oils on your dog’s skin and lead to dryness.
How often you should bath your dog depends on a number of factors such as the breed, how messy he gets, what shampoo you’re using and your own preference.
However, as a general rule, shorter haired dogs can be bathed less often than longer haired dogs that are more prone to mats and tangles.
I personally like to bath my dogs every month or so, unless they’ve gotten themselves into a messy situation, which does happen from time to time – they are dogs after all! And if they’ve been out for a swim, I typically rinse them in fresh water to remove any salt or residue.
In any case, bathing is a great way to manage shedding, just be selective about which shampoo you use, and how often you bath, to avoid drying out your dog’s skin and hair.
6. Brush Your Dog With the Right Brush
Brushing your dog is one of the simplest and most effective methods of reduce shedding, especially if you use the right type of brush and establish a regular brushing routine.
The main reason for this is because, when you brush, you are removing the dead fur from your dog’s coat before it drops off. Similar to bathing, this essentially rids your dog of the excess hair before it lands on your floors and furniture.
The second, and less obvious, reason brushing is worthwhile is because it helps distribute your dog’s natural oils evenly over his skin. Which in turn can help promote a healthier, stronger coat that sheds less overall.
What’s more, most dogs enjoy being brushed, so in addition to helping with shedding, brushing can actually be a great bonding experience!
Which brush should you use?
The best brush to use depends on factors such as the length of your dog’s coat, how heavily he sheds, and whether his hair is prone to mats, knots and tangles.
To give you an idea, however, a bristle brush is most suitable for dogs with shorter coats, a pin brush or slicker brush is better for medium to longer haired dogs, and a deshedding tool can suit virtually any coat type, but is less useful for everyday brushing.
Here’s an overview of the main types of dog brushes:
Pin Brush: This is one of the most commonly used types of dog brushes, and is best for general purpose brushing of dogs with medium to long hair. They contain widely spaced pins with plastic or rubber tips on the ends, and look similar to regular human hair brushes.
Bristle Brush: Bristle brushes can be used on just about any type of coat, but these are particularly useful for dogs with shorter coats and for “finishing off” a brushing session in order to add shine to the coat, as well as to massage your dog’s skin.
Slicker Brush: The slicker brush is made up of tightly packed, fine wire bristles that are slightly angled and that have rubber or plastic tips on the end. It’s a popular, inexpensive brush for dogs with medium to long hair, and works well for general brushing, removing mats and tangles, and removing the old fur.
Deshedding Tool: This is the most effective brushes for removing the old, loose hairs from a dog’s coat. They are basically a tightly packed steel comb with a handle, and are designed to remove the old fur from the undercoat and top coat on virtually any coat type. However, they’re not ideal for dogs with ultra-sensitive skin and generally aren’t the cheapest option.
The brushes I mentioned above are the main ones I use though, with the exception of the rubber hand mitt, which can be useful if your dog doesn’t like being brushed wit a regular brush or if he has sensitive skin.
How often should you brush?
How often you should brush depends on the individual dog.
For example, if your dog has longer hair, more frequent brushing may be needed to help prevent mats and knots from building up in the coat. Likewise, if your dog sheds heavily, brushing more often can help remove as much of the old fur as possible.
As a general rule, most dogs will benefit from a weekly brushing routine, but you can adjust the frequency based on your dog and how much hair she drops.
7. Use a Dog Hair Blower
A dog hair blower is something many professional groomers use as part of a comprehensive, three-part, grooming routine involving bathing, blow drying and brushing.
They basically look and work like a vacuum, but in reverse. They are designed to blow air in a safe and effective manner, and in such a way to blast the old fur right off the coat, including the undercoat. Which makes them ideal for heavy shedding dogs with a thick coat.
Not only that, but they can save you a lot of time too.
Especially if you use it after bathing and before brushing. Because for one thing, they can save you time hand drying your dog after a bath. And second, they tend to blow so much fur off of the coat that when it comes time to brush, most of the work is already done.
That said, I would only recommend an air blower if you have a heavy shedding dog, otherwise it may be hard to justify the cost. And some dogs don’t like the noise, so it’s worth being selective about which one you get, otherwise using it effectively could prove difficult.
8. Take Control of Fleas
Fleas aren’t just annoying, they can actually cause nasty skin irritation and excessive shedding in dogs, especially since most dogs scratch themselves when they have fleas.
In most cases, a good flea treatment that your vet recommends should be enough to deal with this. Whether it be a flea tablet, flea shampoo or some other type of flea treatment.
However, fleas can cause something called Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD), which is one of the most common dermatologic diseases in household dogs throughout the United States.
Believe it or not, just a few flea bites have the potential to cause skin irritation that can last for weeks, even after you’ve gotten rid of the fleas. And this, in turn, can lead to itching, excessive shedding and even acute hair loss.
So it’s worth getting fleas under control as quickly as possible to avoid this. And if you notice redness, patchy balding or scabs, or have any concerns at all, contact a veterinarian.
9. Make Sure Your Dog Is Getting Enough Exercise
Regular exercise won’t stop your dog’s hair falling out, but a healthy dog is likely to develop healthier skin and hair. Not to mention, adequate exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety in dogs, which are linked to higher than normal levels of shedding. Especially if they become self destructive by biting and scratching themselves as a result.
In any case, all dogs need exercise, but some need more than others, so this is naturally going to be more or less important depending on the breed and individual dog.
For example, English Bulldogs are known as a fairly relaxed breed, so a walk each day should be more than enough to keep them happy. Whereas Border Collies are very high energy dogs that need lots of room to run, and plenty of stimulation.
So how much exercise your dog needs can vary greatly depending on the breed. Either way, exercise can help dogs thrive and reduce stress levels, which in turn may result in a healthier, stronger coat and lower levels of shedding.
10. Try a Dog Shedding Onesie
I’ve tried just about every type of shedding solution out there, and one of the most amusing was the dog shedding onesie, which is basically a kind of spandex bodysuit for dogs that traps in loose hair. It actually works too, but there are some pros and cons to consider.
On the plus side, it does trap the hair inside the bodysuit. So by slipping it onto your dog of day, you’ll likely notice less hair on your floors and furniture. It also comes with a zipper to make it easier to toilet your dog, and they are designed to fit just about any size dog.
On the other hand, it doesn’t actually deal with the problem, it just contains it. It can also get a little annoying slipping these on and off every day. Especially if your dog doesn’t like it, in which case it can become quite an unpleasant experience depending on the dog.
Either way, this may be worth trying if you’ve had enough and nothing else is working for you. Even if you just use it during shedding season, which typically occurs once or twice per year depending on the breed. It’s simple, not very expensive, and it works.
11. Get a Dog Hair Vacuum Cleaner
It goes without saying that a vacuum cleaner won’t impact how much hair your dog drops, but the right vacuum can make a big difference as to how much time you spend cleaning up the loose hair, and how much of it you find floating around the home.
And there’s a few main reasons why getting a vacuum designed for picking up dog fur is more beneficial than using a regular one:
- First, the best dog hair vacs are typically more powerful than regular ones, and therefore have ample suction power to lift the dog hair from virtually any surface.
- Second, most come with attachments, like a motorized brushroll for example, to help pick up the hair from surfaces like carpet, where regular vacuums often struggle with.
- Third, good pet hair vacuums often utilize a comprehensive air filtration system that helps remove pet allergens like dander from the air. Which is particularly important if you suffer from pet allergies.
The end result of using a good quality dog hair vac is that you can often pick up more fur in less time. So even though you may spend a little more, the benefits can be well worth it over time. See our top 10 dog hair vacuums and buyer’s guide to learn more.
12. Use an Air Purifier for Pet Hair and Dander
Similar to a vacuum cleaner, an air purifier won’t actually reduce the shedding, but it can help reduce the amount of dog hair and dander within the home, without you having to do anything other than set it up and clean the filters every so often.
This is especially useful for people with dog allergies, too.
Because, as I explain in this article about air purifiers for dog owners, it’s actually the dander (dead skin flakes) that causes the allergies, not the hair itself. And a proper air filter can not only suck up much of the loose hair floating around, but also the dander.
Not to mention, some air purifiers are designed to reduce doggy odors, so this can be a great way to eliminate unpleasant odors in the home too.
The biggest drawback is that most air purifiers (that do a decent job) aren’t cheap, and with so many options it can be hard to know what to look for when choosing one.
But there are some great value air purifiers on the market that are ideal for dog hair and dander, it’s really just a matter of doing your homework before buying.
13. Speak To Your Local Veterinarian
In most cases, shedding is normal. Even high amounts of shedding can be normal depending on the breed, time of year and individual dog, among other factors. And in most cases the tips mentioned in this post should be more than enough to help you get it under control.
However, excessive shedding can also be cause for concern.
For example, things like fleas, allergies, pregnancy, stress, skin conditions, or any number of underlying health issues, can lead to excessive shedding. So if you have any concerns at all, contact your local veterinarian for advice. Especially if you notice things like patchy shedding, redness, scabs and/or foul smelling spots on your dog.
There’s no quick fix way to stop shedding, and even if you implement the tips mentioned in this post perfectly, you’re still likely to notice at least some hair around the home at times.
No product or method can change this, at least not that I know of.
Not even shaving your dog’s hair can stop the shedding. Which, by the way, is not a good idea, especially if you have a double coated dog. Because, as I explain in this dog shedding FAQ, double coated dogs need their undercoat to help insulate them and protect them from the elements.
So, short of adopting a low shedding breed, the best thing you can do is minimize and manage the shedding to get it under control as best as possible. And hopefully with the tips we’ve shared in this post, you now have a much better idea of how to go about doing that.