How to Reduce Pet Shedding to Avoid a Fur-Lined Home

Analysis by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

managing pet hair

Story at-a-glance -

  • Living with pets means living with pet hair; however, there are many ways to keep your home relatively fur-free and ready for guests
  • There are steps you can take to reduce the amount your pet sheds; it’s also a good idea to have a few blankets designated only for your dog or cat
  • Consider covering upholstered furniture; also be sure to keep a supply of lint rollers and rubber gloves on hand, along with a handheld vacuum
  • Vacuum and dust as frequently as necessary to stay on top of pet hair around your home

Pet hair here, there and everywhere is a part of life when you share your home with furry family members. But with that said, you don't have to resign yourself to living with fur-lined furniture, bedding, rugs or drapes. A small amount of pet hair around your home is to be expected, but there are many things you can do to keep the situation under control. This is obviously especially important for people who live in or visit your home who have allergies to pet hair and dander.

5 Pet Hair Management Tips and Tricks

1. Reduce the amount of hair your pet sheds — Preventing your pet's coat from shedding isn't possible, nor is it desirable because shedding is a natural and necessary function.

However, you can do a lot to manage the amount of hair your pet deposits around your home with regular brushing or combing and by feeding a nutritionally balanced, species-appropriate, fresh food diet with healthy amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Supplementing with coconut oil can also be very beneficial in reducing the amount of hair loss.

If your pet is a heavy shedder, daily brushing is a must — especially during shedding season. Short-coated shedders can benefit from brushing with either a grooming glove or a curry brush.

In addition to grooming themselves, many kitties really enjoy being brushed or combed. If yours does, try to spend five to 10 minutes each day brushing her because it can really help reduce the amount of fur she deposits around the house. You'll also be improving the condition of her coat, and as an added bonus, you may find that little hairball issue also disappears.

Keep in mind that if your pet is stressed for any reason, she'll tend to shed more hair. This can be stress caused by illness, surgery, a visit to the boarding kennel, groomer or veterinarian, moving to a new home, or the addition or loss of a family member (two- or four-legged).

2. Give your pets their own blankets — Designate one or a few blankets or quilts "for the dog or cat only" and cover the areas where your pet likes to snooze, such as the couch, the bed or a favorite spot on the floor. This will cut down on the pet hair that collects on your furniture and bedding, and you can clean the blankets with a lint roller or hand-held vacuum (or a regular vacuum with the right attachment).

You can also toss them in the washing machine and dryer as needed. Try to select natural, easy-to-clean fabrics that haven't been treated with flame retardants. Another trick you can try is to throw your pet's blanket in the dryer on low or no heat for 10 minutes. This can loosen up the hair, making it easier to remove either in the washing machine or by some other method.

3. Cover upholstered furniture — You can put a slipcover over your upholstered furniture to protect it and make it easier to clean. Canvas fabrics are a good choice for this purpose. Another option is to use washable furniture throws draped over your pet's favorite couch or chair.

An alternative is to cover all the furniture your pets snooze on with bedsheets when you're not expecting company. Just move the sheet out of the way when you want to sit or lie down in that spot, and put it back in place when you get up. If your pets get up on your bed, cover your comforter or bedspread with a sheet as well. Throwing sheets in the washer and dryer is a lot easier than cleaning your furniture or king size bed furnishings.

4. Invest in a supply of lint rollers, rubber gloves or a squeegee, and a handheld vacuum — For small areas of pet hair on furniture, bedding or even rugs, lint rollers are great for quick pick-ups. Just don't try to do a big job with them because it will take forever, and if you use the rollers with adhesive sheets, you'll go through a ridiculous (and expensive) amount of them.

To use rubber gloves to remove pet hair, dampen them with water (take care not to soak them), and wipe your hands across the furniture to lift up the hair. Rinse the gloves as often as necessary and keep at it until your furniture is no longer fur-lined. There are squeegees specifically designed to remove pet hair, or you can use a regular window or bathroom squeegee. Gently rake the rubber strip along the fabric and remove the wads of hair either manually or with a vacuum.

Instead of dragging your upright or canister vacuum out of the closet every day, use your small, lightweight handheld vacuum instead. To make this an ideal solution for quick cleanups, consider buying the best-quality, most powerful handheld you can afford.

5. Dust and vacuum often — It's a fact of life that dusting and vacuuming chores must be done frequently when you share living quarters with pets. In order to keep your home relatively free of pet hair, it needs regular attention. It's much easier to stay on top of it than to let things slide.

Vacuum regularly — daily if necessary. Even if you have hard floors and little or no carpeting, the best way to pick up pet hair and dander is with a vacuum. If you're in the market for a new vacuum cleaner, do some research to find the brands most popular with pet owners.

If you have a large home, buy more than one vacuum. When the equipment you need is handy and doesn't require lugging up and down stairs, it provides incentive to vacuum more often.

Developing a weekly or more frequent dusting and vacuuming habit will make your house a more welcoming place for all members of the family and guests. And when those inevitable situations arise where you're pressed for time, a quick spot-cleaning will take care of it.

Also, keep in mind that most furniture polishes contain petroleum products that are toxic, and furniture polish sprays pollute the environment in your home. As a safe alternative, I recommend a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice. Use 2 parts olive oil to 1 part lemon juice. Apply it sparingly to your furniture with a soft cloth, and then follow up with a clean dry cloth. This will also leave a clean, fresh scent in your home.

Close off rooms you don't use regularly, like guest bedrooms. As much as you love your furry companions, why make extra work for yourself by allowing them to lounge around in rooms you don't even use?

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