One of the less-loved aspects of pet parenthood is having to deal with all that hair -which besides your dog’s brush, is usually all over your furniture, rugs, clothes… you name it.
But wait! Before you toss all that spare hair into the trash, consider recycling it. That’s right — here are just five ways that annoying dog hair can actually come in handy.
1. Dog hair keeps unwanted critters away from your garden.
Put away those nasty pesticides (along with herbicides, which are known to cause bladder cancer in dogs). There’s a much safer way to protect your garden.
Cover the soil with dog hair instead. Snails and slugs will become trapped in it before they can reach your plants, and its scent will deter critters like rabbits, squirrels and deer, who will be fooled into thinking a dog is nearby. Don’t forget that many of these critters are responsible for hard to treat dog ear infections.
Kathy Webber of Monona, Wisc., owns two businesses: The Clip Joint for dog grooming and Dogless Dog Hair, which she started two years ago in response to frequent requests for the clippings from people without pets.
“Through my grooming business, I’ve seen dogs that have gotten into the garden after their owners have applied toxic pesticides and herbicides,” Weber told the Wisconsin State Journal. “Often the dogs develop tummy problems, hot spots and they won’t stop chewing their feet (these reviews will help you find the best product to groom your dogs feet and keep them healthy). The dogs are miserable. Knowing that Dogless Dog Hair products will keep dogs and their owners safe puts my heart at ease.”
According to the Dogless Dog Hair website, you can place the dog fur around the perimeter of your garden in a border about 3 to 4 inches wide. Sprinkle more of the hair throughout the garden. Add more hair about every two to three weeks.
Another method is to mix the dog hair with the topsoil. “The dog fur will then have the added benefit of helping to retain your garden’s moisture, and nitrogen gets released into the soil as it decays,” the website reports. “This is a win-win!”
2. Dog hair can be used to clean up oil spills.
Since hair — from both dogs and humans – attracts oil, Matter of Trust, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, uses it to construct mats and “booms” (recycled nylons filled with hair) to soak up oil spills. The company takes donations from hair salons, pet groomers and people who send in bags filled with hair.
Here are a couple of scary facts: According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), about 14,000 oil spills are reported every year; and according to the U.S. Department of Energy, in a typical year, 1.3 million gallons of petroleum are spilled into U.S. waters from vessels and pipelines.
“Although many spills are contained and cleaned up by the party responsible for the spill, some spills require assistance from local and state agencies, and occasionally, the federal government,” the EPA reports.
Donations to Matter of Trust can be made by signing up via Excess Access and selecting Yes for “Are you part of our hair program?” You will be contacted when a donation is needed.
3. Birds can line their nests with dog hair.
Feel free to call this idea a little bird brained, but our feathered friends will use dog hair when building their nests.
“Birds generally line the inside of their nest with a soft lining of some sort. The best you can offer that will provide what they need is your pet’s fur,” reports Wild Bird Watching, a website “where bird watchers find answers.”
You should place the hair on top of shrubs so birds can easily pick it up.
Other nest construction materials you can supply are lawn clippings (but only if your grass hasn’t been treated with chemicals); strips of yarn and cloth that have been cut to about 6 inches long; and piles of small sticks. One item you shouldn’t offer birds is dryer lint, because it gets hard when it gets wet.
“This spring, try offering things for the birds to build their homes with,” Wild Bird Watching suggests. “You might find more making their home in your yard.”
4. Dog hair can be used to tie fishing flies.
“One day, while my wife was brushing our dog, she showed me how the new ‘de-shedding’ brush removed the dog’s underfur,” writes Steve Christopherson on his WaywardAngler Fly Fishing website.
He noticed that his dog’s hair was very similar in texture to the rabbit hair he uses to tie his fishing flies.
“Using this new, and free, source of fur and hair to tie flies was an experiment, but when they caught fish, I set aside permanent parking in my fly box,” Christopherson reports.
He has used his dog’s hair to catch trout, bass and panfish. He notes that the flies “aren’t pretty, but the rubber-legged wooly bugger-things produced fine results.”
5. You can knit with dog hair.
Dog hair can keep you warm in winter under certain circumstances. Learn what you can do to keep your dog warm in the cold.
Just think, Cruella De Vil could have had herself a dog-fur coat without harming a single Dalmatian puppy! Dog hair can be cleaned, spun into yarn and then used to knit fashionable garments — including coats.
In her book “Knitting With Dog Hair: Better A Sweater From A Dog You Know and Love Than From A Sheep You’ll Never Meet,” author Kendall Crolius provides instructions “for everything from ‘harvesting the fuzz’ to spinning it into yarn to patterns for knitting dog hair into sweaters, hats and scarves,” according to Amazon.
“Now people don’t believe I’m wearing a hat made with Newfy hair, but I can tell you my head has never been warmer in the dead of winter,” wrote Larry Schneider in an Amazon review of the book.
Stay tuned for more hints and tips about your dog companions.