Shedding some light on pet fur: Hacks for getting it off furniture, some unusual uses, and how shedding can signal pet health problems

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dog sleeping on blanket
Our dog Maggy is a beauty, but also quite the shedder.

Our dog Maggy is a beauty, but also quite the shedder.

According to the ASPCA, it’s estimated that there are 78 million pet dogs and 85.8 million pet cats in the United States.

That’s a lot of loose fur.

It also means a lot of companies making some serious bank from people attempting to keep that pet hair off of their furniture, floors and clothing.

Indeed, a vast array of vacuums, lint rollers, brushes/gloves and gadgets, such as the FURminator deShedding Edge Dog Brush, exist — all either promising to help cut down on shedding and/or make cleaning up easier.

Trying out some pet fur removal hacks:

There also seems to be no end of low-cost hacks offered by pet owners themselves.

For example, we have heard that a dry or wet (wet is supposedly better) latex glove rubbed onto clothing or bedding will pick up astonishing amounts of loose fur.

Dry or wet, the glove thing did not work for us, however. We tried it on one of our living room recliners (the dogs aren’t supposed to go on these chairs—as if that matters!), and weren’t very impressed. We actually picked up more fur with bare hands.

So, we tried rubbing the glove on the very fur-covered blanket two of our dogs sleep on. Again, not very impressive. Maybe we didn’t rub enough to get a good static electricity going in order to make the fur stick, but, it seems like a hack should be easy and quick.

So, we tried another suggestion we had read about, which is using a pumice stone. They are inexpensive and usually used in the bathtub to keep feet smooth. It picked up a little fur in the same tests as above, but hardly enough for us to recommend it.

Yet another suggestion is to add white vinegar (one half cup) to the laundry to help loosen fur from clothing and also help eliminate pet odors. You can apparently either add the vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser or at the beginning of the rinse cycle. We are a bit wary of this suggestion because we have heard that vinegar isn’t good for the rubber seals on appliances. (There is so much back and forth about this on the internet that we don’t know for sure whether it’s true, but it seems prudent to use vinegar on occasion rather than regularly.)

For tried and true fur removal from clothes and furniture, we plan to stick with lint rollers, which aren’t all that expensive, but pick up fur very easily. But, you might want to check out our other post about the ChomChom Roller, which is a popular alternative to lint rollers.

That being said, eliminating loose pet fur altogether isn’t the way to go as it seems to actually have its uses.

Pet hair crafts:

For example, according to an article, Seven Surprising Ways to Use Pet Hair, you can actually add the stuff to your garden soil to help with fertilization or use it to make cat toys (they have a detailed video of how to do this — just click the article link).

And speaking of getting crafty, quite a bit of animal fur is put to ornamental use on Etsy. One seller, for instance, offers a “Pet fur Heart Pendant,” which will be made once you send them some of your pet’s hair.

Another offers a Custom Keepsake Heart knitted from your pet’s (dog, cat or rabbit) fur.

Why to keep an eye on how much your pet sheds:

Finally, pet shedding can also signal a health issue. WebMD notes, for example, that all healthy dogs will normally shed (and that regular brushing can help cut down on the amount of loose fur that you have to clean up in your home). But, excessive shedding can be the sign or stress, a diet issue or a medical problem.

Similarly, petinfo notes that cats usually shed all year long, but that excessive shedding can be a sign of disease or food allergies.

And, with rabbits, fur loss might be due to normal molting or a dominant rabbit deciding to “barber” (pull chunks of fur out of another rabbit), but it can also be due to mites or illness, according to pets4homes.

So, if you notice your pup, cat or rabbit is doing more shedding than normal or has bald patches, consulting a veterinarian is a good idea.

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