Shedding is a natural process, but temperature, nutrition, hormones, health and other factors can increase it, according to Paul Maza, D.V.M., senior lecturer at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, New York. Minimize the fallout by brushing your cat or dog at least weekly. This removes hairs that are about to be shed. "It's better to regularly spend a few minutes grooming, rather than long periods of time less frequently," says Maza. "That way, loose hairs end up on the brush, not in the house." Be sure not to brush too hard. And if you notice a sudden increase in hair loss or bare spots appear, contact a vet.
- Dogs and cats shed more when their skin is dry. Try adding a humidifier to your home, and bathe your animal with an oatmeal shampoo, which is moisturizing.
- For on-the-spot fur removal from clothing, roll it off with a slightly damp sponge.
- Always shake clothing (preferably outside) before tossing in the wash.
- Add a couple of yards of nylon net (available at fabric stores) to your dryer. "It'll catch the pet fuzz," says Cobb. "You can re-use each piece multiple times." Also, wipe down the dryer after each load.
- A daily 10-minute vacuuming — sofa, back of chairs, carpet — will minimize household fur.
- Twice a year, do a deep cleaning. Target commonly overlooked areas, including the crevices between sofa cushions and ridges between stairs.
- Avoid textured car upholstery like velour and suede, which tug pet hairs. Since leather is smooth, it's best for heavy shedders. Make sure fabrics have an anti-static finish.
Originally published in the May 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.