A glossy coat is a sign of a healthy dog. How can you encourage one on your best friend?
If someone asked you what makes a dog look healthy, a “shiny” coat would likely be one of your top answers. Dogs who are healthy and happy seem to emanate a glow from their very hair fibers, shining down to their non-split ends.
So what does it mean if your dog’s coat is looking dull and lifeless? And how can you help them enjoy better hair days?
What Causes a Dull Coat?
Ask most vets what causes a dull coat and they’re likely to answer “poor nutrition.” So the first thing you want to do is make sure you’re feeding your four-legged friend a healthy diet full of real meat and protein, with few if any by-products, preservatives, and grains like corn, wheat, and soy, which can cause allergies.
There are also certain medical problems that can affect a dog’s appearance, so a dull coat may be a good reason for a checkup. Parasites like tapeworms, hookworms, and roundworms can all deplete your dog of key nutrients important for coat health. Infections, fleas and ticks, thyroid problems, kidney conditions, and other health issues can also be to blame, so make sure your dog has a clean bill of health.
Natural Ways to Encourage a Shiny Coat
Once you know that your dog is in tip-top shape, here are some other things you can do to encourage his or her coat to come out shiny and soft.
- Tuna, sardines, and salmon: These are full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids that help contribute to a healthy coat, plus they’re delicious to a dog! Add some to the dog’s food.
- Brush regularly: Regular brushing stimulates the skin and hair follicles, which increases the natural production of skin oils that make the coat shiny. Brush your dog at least once every other day.
- Bathe regularly, but not too much: How often depends on your dog, the length of the coat, and how dirty he or she gets. Bathing once a month is a good general guideline—often enough to keep the coat clean, but not so often that you’re stripping the coat of essential oils. Use a moisturizing shampoo that won’t irritate skin. Consider adding a natural conditioner afterwards—those that contain vitamin E are soothing to the skin and hair. Some owners use coconut milk on the pet’s fur for several minutes before bath time.
- A little oil: Stir one teaspoon to one tablespoon of vegetable oil into your dog’s food to keep the coat healthy. Try sunflower, flaxseed, olive, coconut, and safflower, but don’t give them too much—that can lead to diarrhea. Coconut oil may also help clear up skin conditions.
- Herbal remedies: Try horsetail, as it’s high in silica, which is essential in the maintenance of healthy and strong skin, bones, and fur. Spirulina is another natural ingredient that contains protein, B vitamins, and carotenoids. Be cautious, though, not to use too much. Check with your vet on dosage.
- Protection: Dogs who have no shelter from the elements and are kept outside most days will have coats that change to be more thick and dry simply to provide natural protection. You can just let it be for the colder winter months, or provide additional shelter to encourage a shinier coat.
- Oatmeal Bath: Dogs with dull coats often have skin problems, as well. An oatmeal bath helps sooth the skin, tame itching, and leaves the coat soft and shiny. Oatmeal contains vitamin E, so it works as a natural softener. Simply grind one-cup plain oatmeal into a fine powder, fill a tub with lukewarm water, add the powder and stir in until the water appears cloudy, then place your dog in the bath. Pour water on its back and head, avoiding the eyes, and massage for 10-15 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.
Do you have tips for helping dogs to maintain a shiny coat? Please share.