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No matter what breed dog or cat shares your home, one thing is for certain: Your pet will shed. Surprisingly, the average animal can drop and shed thousands of hairs a day during season changes, such as that which occurs between spring and summer. Some indoor pets even shed large amounts of dead hair year round. Experts tell us that not maintaining your pet's coat will lead to matted and tangled hair. Matted hair is often responsible for skin diseases and irritations because dead hair begins to trap dirt and debris inside your animal's coat. Caring for your pet's coat not only prevents irritation, but will also prevent odor from being trapped, as well. To keep your pet and your house hair free, try these simple procedures for ridding your life of excess hair:

Brush
If you do nothing else to alleviate pet shedding, veterinarians recommend you pick up a pet brush and use it regularly. Brushing your pet at least once a week will help to eliminate stray hairs and other problems which occur during high shedding seasons. The best method of brushing begins with the proper tools. Note: Not all brushes are made to tailor to be used on all animals. Pick up a pet brush that's made for your pet's breed, hairstyle and size. Larger longer haired dogs may need a shedding blade and a brush, whereas smaller dogs may only need a fine toothed brush and comb. Cats often require steel toothed combs for matted areas and fine toothed brushes for general care. Test the brush against the back of your hand before using. If the bristles hurt your hand, odds are, they will irritate your pet's skin, as well. As a general rule of thumb: If it feels good pulling the brush through your hair, then it's generally a safe brush for your animal.

After you've chosen the proper equipment, brush with strong, steady strokes. In order for brushing to be effective, you must make sure the bristles of the brush go deep into your pet's coat. Make short strokes through high shedding areas (such as the outer thighs and neck) in order to pick up dander, as well as loose hair. You can also brush against the grain to help remove any dead hair that you may have missed. Spend at least fifteen minutes on a brushing session. The more often your brush, the happier your pet will be. Brushing will also help to distribute your pet's natural oils through their coat and prevent dryness, dander and irritation.

If your pet is bothered by matted areas, don't be afraid to pull out the scissors or a pet shaver. It's better to lose the matted area than to try to pull a comb or brush through.

Comb
After brushing, you can help remove leftover stray hairs by running a thin pet comb through your pet's coat. This is the ideal way to be certain you haven't missed any hair. Combing also allows you the opportunity to take a thorough look at your pet's skin. While shedding is normal, bald, irritated or red spots or not. Should you notice an irregularities in your animal's coat, it may be time for a trip to the veterinarian.

Use a Glove
Many pets just won't sit still long enough for a proper brushing. In these cases, try reaching for a grooming glove. Grooming gloves are generally covered with tiny, rubber or plastic teeth and are excellent for skittish dogs and cats. By using a glove, your animal will only have the impression that you're petting them, not working on their hair.

Bath
Bathing your animal in luke warm water can also help to loosen any dead hairs that may be tangled in their coat. Use a gentle, pet appropriate shampoo and follow each bath with a short combing and special treat. Remember, the more your animal enjoys this chore, the longer they'll sit still.

Feel free to apply a palm full of conditioner, which will make your grooming job simpler in the future and also help to condition your pet's sensitive skin. Conditioners come in many forms including spray on, bottled and foams. Use whatever is easiest. Also, never bathe your pet more than once a month. Animals have sensitive skin and bathing too frequently can often irritate already sensitive skin by destroying essential oils.

Is it time for a new look?
During summer months, feel free to grab the clippers and give your dog a new 'do! There are some excellent dog trimming clipper sets on the market. If your dog has never been shaved before, trying taking him to a dog groomer the first time to help acquaint him with the process. After the initial cutting, take it slow and easy and your pet will learn to love the extra attention a hair cut can bring.

Protect yourself from your cat
While some cats enjoy being groomed, most do not. Experts recommend wearing a thick pair of leather gloves when attempting a brushing for the first time to avoid getting snagged by sharp claws.

Oils
Taking a good look at your pet's coat during brushing times is essential. Dogs and cats that suffer excessive dandruff aren't getting enough fat in their diets. Rather than over condition the skin and hair, try adding pet fish-oil to your pet's daily food supply. Mixing 1/2-1 teaspoon of fish oil (or alternatives like safflower or corn oil) is usually enough to correct the problem.

Check the food supply
If your pet's coat lacks luster and shine, you're probably skimping in the food department. Upgrading your animal's diet can help provide the full range of dietary nutrients your pet's coat and body desires. Better food also helps to curb problem skin, including dandruff.

As often as they'll let you
How often should you brush? Veterinarians say, as long and as often as they'll let you. While brushing daily probably isn't necessary (with the exception of a few long haired canines), brushing several times a week is ideal. This will enable you to watch for skin irritations and keep your animal in tip top shape.