You know that soft, sleek, huggable feel of your dog’s coat right after a bath? What if your dog’s coat could feel like that all the time? Turns out, there are four simple steps you can take to ensure a fluffy, shiny coat—a good indicator of your dog’s overall health—every day.
1. Quality Diet
A quality diet is probably the most important step in maintaining a healthy coat in your dog. Heavily-processed or poor-quality foods will not deliver the nutrients needed for your dog’s body to thrive and won’t lead to a healthy, shiny, softer coat.
“The freshest and most minimally-processed foods have the potential to deliver the highest bioavailable nutrients to the body,” Integrative Veterinarian Dr. Katie Kangas says. “This means the skin and coat will get better nutrients to work with, and the rest of the body will, too.”
So what kind of food makes the most dramatic improvement?
Specifically, research shows a raw diet can be best. “[Try] switching their diet away from processed foods to other options such as freeze-dried raw, dehydrated raw, or properly balanced home-cooked diets,” Dr. Kangas suggests.
2. Proper Supplementation
Supplements can also help towards a glossy dog coat. Omega-3 fish oils are well known for their benefits to humans, and the same goes for our four-legged friends. You can supplement directly with the fish—like Primal’s Frozen Sardine Mix—or mix the fish oil into your dog’s food.
“Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish like sardines, salmon, and anchovies,” Dr. Kangas adds. “Omega-3 fatty acids can also be supplemented into the diet via quality fish oil or krill oil products.”
Keep in mind these oils have a short shelf life, so don’t stock up on too much at once, or it will likely go rancid before you can use it. If you feed a high-quality fish-based kibble, make sure you don’t leave the bag open and exposed to air—freezing the majority of the contents in freezer bags until ready to use will extend the shelf life.
3. Regular Bathing
Many pet parents wrongly believe bathing their dog as often as twice a month is detrimental to their dog’s skin and coat health—but it’s not true! Dr. Kangas says the quality of the shampoos on the market today are better and not as drying as in the past.
“People think bathing will create more skin problems, such as flaking or itching, but this is not true for the vast majority of dogs,” Dr. Kangas says. “More frequent bathing is actually very helpful for many dogs, and for those with itching or allergy issues, it’s often best to bathe at least once a week with a medicated shampoo.”
Dr. Kangas says dogs will skin infections will also benefit from frequent bathing with a medicated shampoo, like Zymox or Duoxo.
“The overuse of antibiotics for minor skin conditions is a big problem that is gaining more recognition, as it’s causing increased resistance to antibiotics,” Dr. Kangas adds. “Many veterinary dermatologists are now recommending more topical treatment options—such as medicated shampoos, rinses, wipes, and even mousse-type products.”
For routine bathing, make sure you’re using a natural-based product that agrees with your dog. Test the product out on a small patch of your dog’s skin to make sure he’s not allergic to any of the ingredients.
“I like Derm Magic essential oil based shampoo bars, but there are many great products available,” Dr. Kangas adds.
4. Flea & Tick Medicine
Dirty, matted hair can attract all sorts of unwanted visitors, including fleas and ticks. Make sure your dog is properly protected against these pests, especially if you live in a climate where they’re active year-round.
“If you live in an area that is endemic for tick-borne diseases, it becomes more important,” Dr. Kangas says. “But pets with better nutrition and thus better overall health and immune system will not be as susceptible to flea problems in general.”
If your prefer to skip conventional medications, there are natural options available.
“I prefer to use essential-oil based products, if possible,” Dr. Kangas says. “Mercola Healthy Pets has a great flea and tick spray, and now a spot-on product that lasts a full month.”
The Bottom Line
A shiny, healthier, huggable coat is well within your reach. Proper nutrition and regular bathing are key. As always, monitor your dog’s reaction to dietary and grooming changes and consult your vet for individual advice for your furry friend.