How to Win the War on Pet Hair

If you’re a pet parent, you know that shedding season is in full swing – and your allergies probably are too.

About 30 percent of people with general allergies also have allergic reactions to cats and dogs. People with pet allergies have sensitive immune systems that can react to harmless proteins in a pet’s urine, saliva or dander. And while pet hair itself is not an allergen, it collects dander and harbors other allergens, like dust and pollen.

The best way to fight the war on fur hypersensitivities is on two fronts: on the pet itself (through regular grooming) and around the home.

A tidy pet’s a happy pet

Dogs with healthy skin shed skin cells every 22 days. But a dog with unhealthy skin can shed cells as often as every six days, exacerbating the amount of shedding that occurs in the home.

Start with a regular bathing routine. Most groomers suggest bathing your dog at least once a month – just use an organic hypoallergenic shampoo that’s gentle enough to use frequently. Of course, if your cat hates water (most of them do!), try grooming wipes specially formulated for feline fur. They’ll help remove loose hair and stop it from settling on your carpet and furniture.

Regularly brushing your pets is essential to winning the pet hair war. Grooming should never be considered a chore. Think of it as a way to spend quality time with your pet.

Ask your groomer for advice about the right tools and brushes for your pet, especially if it has long fur. The secret to successfully grooming a cat is to let it pick the place where it’s happy to sit and be brushed. It could be on your lap or on a kitchen counter – just put down a mat or towel so they don’t slide around.

Dogs are usually happy to be groomed anywhere. Outside in the yard is a good option, because loose hair can fly around without remaining in the house.

Tools and tricks

Consider a powerful vacuum cleaner your new best friend. And it doesn’t have to be one specially labeled for pet hair to get the job done. It’s all about doing your research to find a vacuum with the best suction  and a variety of tools for extracting hair from stairs, crevices and cushions.

The simple (but effective) lint roller also plays an important role in hair pickup. Besides the standard-sized rollers used for personal use, check pet stores and online pet retailers for large sticky sheets designed to lift pet hair on a grand scale.

And as part of your seasonal cleaning, remember to wash any throws, blankets and even pet beds that are popular snooze zones. For best results, wash these items monthly.

Food for thought

Finally, if you think your pet is shedding excessively and is also suffering from flaky skin, the cause could be what’s in the food bowl. Good nutrition is vital for all pets, because it ensures a healthy skin and coat, which means they’ll shed less.

So you can, in fact, control your own allergies by ensuring your pet has a great diet. At the very least, it’s worth a discussion with your veterinarian.


  • 4 Ways to Ensure Your Pet Is a Good Rental Resident
  • The 9-to-5er’s Guide to Keeping Your House Clean
  • Keeping Pets Safe Around Plants

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Originally published March 6, 2016.