By Julia Szabo
Volunteering their time wherever help is needed, trained therapy animals and
their human partners are helping to make the world a healthier place.
If your outgoing pet thrives on attention, you can maximize your bonding
time together -- and make a profound contribution to your community -- by
becoming therapy partners. Across the country, these volunteer teams dedicate
themselves to lifting spirits at hospitals, nursing homes, and anywhere else
It's normal for cats and dogs to shed. Joe Bartges, professor of medicine and nutrition at the University of Tennessee's College of Veterinary Medicine, says, "Shedding is a natural process that allows for loss of older and often dead hair so that new hair can grow in."
Bartges says some pets shed seasonally, "blowing" their winter coats when spring comes. Others, like indoor pets and short-haired pets, may shed all year. Making time to brush your pet can help you determine where the bulk of that hair ends up -- in the trash or on you.
Even if you don't mind finding a little fur on your favorite pants, grooming your cat or dog can offer both of you real benefits, including preventing painful knots and tangles, minimizing pet dander in the home, helping you catch signs of pet illness or parasites, and boosting the pet-person bond. All you need is a bit of time and the right tools.
You don't need a suite of complicated brushes and combs to get a handle on pet shedding. As a matter of fact, "Professional groomers are using the same grooming tools as owners," says Barbara Bird, a certified master groomer practicing in Arizona. A few of those deshedding tools include:
Wide-toothed combs: Usually plastic or metal, with widely separated teeth.
Slicker brushes: Often rectangular-headed, these brushes have fine metal tines.
Blade-on-a-handle metal combs: Newer pet deshedding tools, such as the FurBuster or Furminator.
Bristle brushes: The bristles of these familiar-looking brushes may be made of synthetic or natural bristles.
Pin brushes: Often shaped like a bristle brush, but with metal (or sometimes wood) pins instead of bristles.
Rubber brushes: These come in various shapes; each has rubber tines.
Which Deshedding Tool Should You Choose?
Most brushes and combs do essentially the same thing: They remove dead hair from your pet before it has a chance to fall out.