By Kathryn Weber

According to the Humane Society, approximately 171 million cats and dogs are kept as pets in the United States today. That adds up to a lot of pet hair around the house. Tackling the problem effectively requires a two-pronged approach.

Step one: Pet care

Veterinarians and groomers suggest that owners take into account how their pets are groomed, fed and cared for when trying to get pet hair under control. A quality dog and cat food will ensure your pet's coat stays in tip-top shape. And better fur means less shedding. After diet, grooming is a key tactic for managing excess pet hair.

Both cats and dogs should be brushed and groomed regularly, and daily brushing is critical for indoor pets. Pet stores carry a variety of grooming tools, including brushes, combs and gloves that allow you to pet your cat or dog and remove hair at the same time. For best results, use a combination of grooming tools to eliminate most loose hair. Your local pet shop or groomer can help you pick out the right tools for your pet. Routine brushing and regular baths or professional grooming helps tame excess hair and keep your pet clean.

Although many pets do lounge on the sofas and chairs, it's best to train your dog or cat to sleep on its own bed or couch. This helps contain pet hair in those areas. If that's not possible, drape your furniture with washable throws and slipcovers to allow for easy clean up. Regularly washing pet bedding also helps keep hair under control.

Step two: House care

Without a doubt, the single greatest weapon in your pet hair arsenal consistent cleaning. Regular cleaning on a daily basis is essential to keep pet hair under control. The best investment is a quality vacuum made specifically for pets. The Dyson Animal ( is a good example. Though a bit pricey (around $500), it's made for picking up pet hair. The clear canister lets you see how much hair you're picking up. Better still, this vacuum features strong edge cleaning. Baseboards and corners are key spots where dust bunnies and hairballs gather.

This vacuum also does a good job of pulling up hair and not blowing it around the room. Many vacuums are not suited for pet uses because the exhaust mechanisms actually blow hair and dust balls away from the vacuum. The Dyson model also has a motorized attachment that can be used to vacuum upholstery; so important for homes where pets doze on the furniture.

Regular dusting and cleaning with a microfiber mop helps pick up dander, dust and hair in spots the vacuum can't reach.


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