Shiny Coats Mean Healthy Dogs
By Honor Tarpenning, NextDayPets.com Staff
A dull, lackluster coat on your dog is neither aesthetically pleasing nor pleasant to pet. Furthermore, A shiny coat is indicative of a healthy dog. There are several things you can do to help your dog have a gorgeous, enviable coat.
Start with a visit to your vet. If your dog has a dull, dry, or itchy coat, he could have skin allergies, worms, mites, poor nutrition, or vitamin deficiencies. Your vet can treat these conditions and suggest vitamin supplements that can help.
A diet that features essential fatty acids is important for a healthy coat. Essential fatty acids are those which your dog’s body cannot make on its own, and thus must be acquired through proper nutrition. Fatty acids can also help with arthritis, allergies, autoimmune conditions, yeast infections, atopy, and cancer; and are beneficial to the eyes and heart as well as the coat. Your vet might suggest that you place your dog on a supplement which contains Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Your vet might also suggest that you supplement your dog’s diet with brewer’s yeast, which is believed to improve the quality of the hair coat.
You should feed your dog a high quality, premium dog food. Bargain shopping can save you a lot of money in most areas of life. However, with dog food, you really do get what you pay for more often than not. Every dog has different nutritional needs, but feeding a high quality dog food, especially one rich in essential fatty acids, can often sidestep the need to provide your dog with nutritional supplements.
Just as with human hair, brushing helps to distribute natural oils throughout the length of the hair, and removes dead hair. How often you need to brush your dog's coat depends heavily on the breed. Short-coated dogs like Beagles barely need to be brushed at all, whereas long-coated breeds which are prone to tangles and matting should be brushed daily. However, it doesn’t hurt, and is highly beneficial to brush any dog every day. Brushing is a pleasant experience for both dog and owner. It helps you to bond with your dog and is a good way to spend quiet, calm time with your pet. Brushing also stimulates the blood vessels in the skin, improving circulation so more nutrients can reach the hair follicle. While brushing you also have the opportunity to notice any changes in your dog that may be indicative of other health issues. Make sure you use a brush that corresponds with your dog’s coat type.
Long-coated breeds need regular trimming and proper care to avoid an unattractive coat. Split ends can develop in the long-coated breeds which, without regular trimming, will eventually split up the length of the hair, leading to frizz and a generally less attractive coat.
Regular bathing also contributes to a healthy coat. You should be careful not to bathe your dog too often, lest you deplete the coat of its natural oils. Once a month is ideal for most dogs, but if you take your dog out in the woods or swimming regularly, or if your dog has a propensity for rolling in the mud, you’ll have to bathe more often.
It may be tempting to share your shampoo with your dog, but for a truly gorgeous coat, it is better to use dog shampoo. Use a high-quality shampoo enriched with vitamin E and aloe. Oatmeal shampoos are great for dogs with sensitive or irritated skin. Healthy skin leads to a healthy coat. Also, consider using a dog conditioner to make your dog’s coat even silkier and more luxurious.
Flea infestations can lead to an allergy called flea dermatitis, which results in excessively itchy, irritated skin, excessive shedding, and lesions and hot spots. This condition is uncomfortable and unsightly, and can lead to dangerous infections. Moreover, fleas spread tape worms, and the mites that cause sarcoptic mange, demodectic mange and cheyletilla dermatitis, all of which can affect people as well as dogs. Severely infested dogs, especially puppies, are at risk of developing anemia, which is characterized by a reduced level of red blood cells or hemoglobin and causes lethargy, decreased appetite, discoloration of the skin, and episodes of collapse.
One of the easiest ways to counteract flea problems is to use a spot on treatment. These treatments come in small, one-time-use tubes. You administer a small amount of gel directly between your dog’s shoulder blades and the dog’s natural movements carry the product throughout the body. There are many forms of spot on treatment, some of which prevent ticks and mosquitoes as well, and most of which are water proof, so you can take your dog swimming and bathe him regardless of flea treatment. Most spot on treatments last for 30 days and start killing fleas almost immediately.
Get Out and Play
Exercise improves your dog’s circulation, which results in more beneficial nutrients reaching the hair follicles, leading to a healthier coat. Stress also contributes to a dull coat. Long walks and plenty of play significantly reduce your dog’s stress level. Furthermore, many dogs exhibit detrimental, excessive licking as a result of boredom and separation anxiety, both of which are decreased by lots of exercise.
Essentially, do your best to keep your dog healthy and happy, and a shiny coat will almost inevitably follow.