By Andrew Fischer
How Can I Minimize my Lab's Shedding?
Labradors shed a lot of fur. Let’s be honest, if they didn’t shed, they would be perfect. So the only downside to them is that they leave hair wherever they go. It can certainly be annoying to find hair on the couch, on our clothes and even floating in their water bowl.
Whether you have a yellow, chocolate or black Lab, their thick hair may appear everywhere, especially during molting season. Basically, there isn’t any difference in the amount that a Lab will shed based on its colour.
Shedding is a natural and completely normal process. It’s a process of losing all the damaged hair. The amount of shedding depends on a lot of factors.
Lab's double coat
Labs shed a lot because they have a double coat. With a double coat comes another layer of fur to be shed.
The sleek outer coat is more abrasive while the undercoat is fluffy and serves as an insulator. These two layers ensure that they stay warm in cold temperatures, because Labs were originally bred to be hunting dogs in Canada who could run and swim in cold Canadian climate. This double coat is meant to be shed regularly for adequate protection. Additionally, the inner fluffy coat is incredibly dense, much more so than other dog breeds, so logically there is much more to shed.
How often do Labradors Shed?
Labradors shed a certain amount of hair all year long, but the shedding increases noticeably twice a year during molting/shedding season.
For three weeks in spring Labradors get ready for the summer warmth by losing their winter coat and growing a thin summer one. Similar thing happens in autumn when Labs change their summer coats for thicker winter ones.
You can’t completely stop your Lab from shedding but there are ways to slow it down.
Below are the best tips from experienced Lab owners.
A well-balanced diet
A good diet is always a good place to start when you fight the excessive shedding of your dog. What your dog eats will have a huge impact on how much it sheds.
Make sure that the food you serve to your dog is not very high in calories.
Give your pooch a high quality food that is rich in protein. Shedding Labradors should also get canned food. They need the moisture from wet canned food to hydrate their fur.
Grain-free food is also known to prevent excessive shedding. I recommend avoiding food with corn or gluten as one of the ingredients.
Another thing shedding Labradors need are omega fatty acids. These constituents of animal lipid metabolism promote strong hair follicles and significantly slow down premature shedding. Healthy fatty acids are frequently recommended by vets to give your Lab’s coat the health it needs. I also recommend you to add fish oil to your Lab’s diet. These oils visibly improve the health of your Lab’s coat and a healthy coat is essential to managing the amount of shedding.
Your Labrador also needs to have access to fresh water all day long. A dehydrated dog will have dry skin which will cause excessive shedding.
While you can’t stop your Lab from shedding, you can easily reduce the amount of hair you have to sweep up by regular brushing. Regular brushing will radically help limit how much hair you find on your clothes and furniture. It also helps your dog to remove dead hairs and stimulates healthy skin.
Most of the professional groomers I talked to recommend to brush your pooch at least a few times a week. Brush your Lab every day during molting season.
A daily brushing during your walk is also a great option so your dog can lose its hair outside and not on your furniture.
Make sure you use a grooming tool that is able to remove dead undercoat. Doing this can dramatically reduce the amount of dead hair laying around your house.Start brushing at the neck and move in the direction of hair growth. You need to comb the entire coat firmly enough to reach the soft undercoat. Use a slicker/curry brush and a shed blade. Comb the coat firmly but make sure you are not pressing down too much on the dog’s skin, as some of these brushes and blades are quite sharp and could hurt your Labrador.
o reduce the balls of soft undercoat fur around your house, you should comb her daily with a shed blade after first brushing her with a slicker or curry brush.
There are a lot of de-shedding grooming tools that work (Furminator, ZoomGroom, Kay, SleekEZ etc). They work well for medium haired dogs like Labradors, Beagles and Boerboels.
Don’t forget to get your Lab a de-shed bath at least a few times during peak shedding seasons. Bathing your Lab about once a week during peak shedding season can significantly reduce the amount of hair shed and can also help to loosen shed fur.
But remember to limit the baths to no more than once a week. If you start bathing your dog too often you may strip away oils in your Labrador’s coat. These oils are important for protecting your pooch.
When it comes to bathing and using de-shedding shampoos, quality of the shampoo is more important than the frequency of bathing.
Shampoo residue irritates your Lab’s skin, so make sure to rinse the coat properly.
I recommend you to choose a conditioner that is coconut based. It will help moisturise your Labrador’s skin and limit how much it sheds.
Some of these conditioners are very difficult to get out of your dog’s coat. Make sure to rinse your dog several times after using the conditioner.
Did you know that a stressed Labrador tends to shed more?
If your dog sheds much more than he should, it might be a sign of an illness
Make sure you do all you can to keep your dog happy and comfortable. He needs to get enough rest, nutrition, exercise and love.
One of the best ways to make your Labrador feel comfortable is to provide a regular and reliable schedule. A dog that never knows when he is going to sleep, go out or get fed next may have a high level of anxiety. This anxiety then leads to excessive shedding.
If your dog has a regular schedule and you give him everything he needs but he still continues to shed like crazy, it may be a sign of a more serious health issue.
If your dog sheds a lot and/or his coat doesn’t look healthy, has bald spots or dull hair that pulls out easily it may be a result of fungal/bacterial infections, hormonal imbalance, cancer, allergy, liver or kidney disease, immune disease etc.
In these case I recommend you to visit your veterinary.
Although the shedding is a common and annoying issue to many Labrador owners, luckily there solutions that help reduce and slow down dog shedding. You should try improving your Lab’s diet, regular brushing, buying de-shedding shampoos and conditioners and improving your dog’s mental and physical health.
Figuring out which of these tips will work best for your Labrador will take you some time but I believe that patience will lead to the right solution.