5 Ways to Improve Your Dog's Skin and Coat
Keeping your dog looking fabulous is just one way of letting her know she's the best dog ever. Here are five simple ways to ensure that your pet's skin and coat is in top condition:
- Proper Nutrition
A healthy, balanced diet is the cornerstone to your dog's skin and coat looking shiny, healthy and lustrous, whether her coat is long and silky or wiry and curly.
Work with your veterinarian to ensure your dog's diet is tailored to her specific needs, including age, breed, life stage and activity level. This means that you will have peace of mind knowing that not only is she getting the right amount of protein, vitamins and minerals, but also the correct amount of calories to maintain a healthy weight.
Dry, red or irritated skin can be a sign of diet deficiencies or an allergy to certain foods and may require dietary changes. Always consult with your veterinarian if you suspect that your pet has a food allergy. Your veterinarian may recommend trying a different protein source or a limited ingredient diet. In addition, anytime you switch your pet's food, be sure to transition slowly over a period of seven to 10 days to avoid an upset stomach.
Along with high-quality food, it's important to have plenty of water available for your dog to drink to ensure she is properly hydrated, which will also have a direct effect on the condition of her skin and coat. Having plenty of clean, fresh water available is always important, particularly if your dog solely eats dry food, as it doesn't have the moisture content of wet food.
You can further help your dog maintain a healthy coat by adding supplements such as Alaskan salmon oil to dog food. Fish oils are known to help relieve dry, itchy skin and boost the immune system, resulting in a shiny coat. In many cases, these nutrients are already part of a high quality diet.
- Regular Brushing
It's important to brush your dog regularly between grooming sessions. Brushing is the best way to spread natural oils on her skin, helping her coat look glossy and keeping it in peak condition. Brushing is also a great way to spend quality time together.
Brushing helps remove loose fur and prevent mats. Matted hair can prevent oxygen and moisture from reaching the skin and can cause bacterial infections that appear as red, itchy patches on the skin. Further, the clumps of hair put pressure on the skin, which can weaken it.
Even if your dog goes to a professional groomer, it's an excellent idea to have a variety of grooming essentials at home. Read the packaging carefully to ensure you get the right size and firmness best suited for your dog.
- Grooming Your Dog and Bathing
Whether you groom your dog at home, take her to a professional salon or take her to a self-serve dog wash, it's a good idea to bathe her every four to six weeks. Always select the right shampoo and conditioner for your dog's specific needs. Never use your own (human) shampoo on your pet as it could cause skin irritation. It's always a good idea to give your dog a thorough brush-through before and after a bath.
- Protect Against Sun, Sand, Sea and Chlorine
The sun's rays can be harmful to your dog. As with humans, excessive sun exposure can lead to skin cancer, which is especially common in dogs with pink skin and white fur. Use a special pet sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15 protection factor anytime your dog is exposed to the sun.
Seawater, sand and chlorine can be damaging to your pet's skin and fur, as well. They dry the skin, causing irritations and making the fur look dull and spiky. Always bathe your pet after she's been swimming in the sea or playing in the pool.
- Prevent Fleas and Ticks
Excessive itching and gnawing brought on by fleas can cause serious skin irritation and dryness (moreover, by gnawing an itchy area, your pet may ingest fleas which, if carrying the larva, can lead to a tapeworm infestation within your pet's intestine). Further, constant scratching can cause hair loss and damage to your pet's fur. It takes only one flea bite to cause an allergic reaction in your dog. Prevent an infestation with year-round protection on your pet and in your home and yard.
There are a lot of options available for preventing fleas and ticks, including topical solutions, chewable pills and collars. Talk with your veterinarian to decide which products are best for your dog. Protect the interior of your home with house foggers and carpet and upholstery treatments and use sprays for your lawn and other outside areas where your pet hangs out.