FREE U.S. SHIPPING ON ALL ORDERS

How to Promote a Shiny and Healthy Dog Coat

December 06, 2016

Tips for shiny and healthy dog coat and dog hair

Updated October 2019

The condition of your dog's coat is a good indicator of his or her health. Dog coat problems can be signs of an allergy, parasitic infection, or other serious underlying health condition. In this article we break down everything you need to know about dog coat health: what a healthy dog coat should look and feel like, signs and potential factors behind an unhealthy dog coat, and how to best promote a healthy dog coat in your four-legged best friend.

Coat Appearance in Healthy Dogs

Although dog coats vary widely in type and texture across dog breeds, the characteristics of a healthy dog coat are generally the same across every pup. A healthy dog coat is shiny and smooth. The fur or hair should be soft and glossy without being greasy.

Signs of an Unhealthy Dog Coat

Signs of an unhealthy dog coat include dog hair or fur that grows increasingly dull, faded, and limp. The coat may become increasingly dry, brittle, and coarse. The changes in your dog's coat may not happen overnight but occur over time. Old age aside, such symptoms can be a sign of malnutrition, allergy, illness, parasites, or other health problems. For these reasons, it is important to contact your vet as soon as you notice any changes in coat health.

Tips to Keep Your Dog's Coat Shiny and Healthy

Food For Thought

"You are what you eat" holds true for humans and dogs alike. Genetics aside, diet is the #1 external factor affecting dog coat health. 

A balanced diet rich in protein, essential fatty acids (omega-3s, omega-6s), and carbohydrates is key for dog skin and coat health. If you already use a high quality dog food, consider these add-ons:

  • Clean protein. A strand of hair is composed of mostly protein, so if one’s diet lacks sufficient protein, hair health will suffer. Fully-cooked chicken, turkey and fish are excellent sources of protein for dogs and can compliment a high quality commercial food diet. Try to avoid meat by-products, preservatives, and grains (corn, wheat, and soy) which are often used as food fillers and offer little nutritional value.
  • Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. For dogs and humans alike, omega-3 and omega-6 are saviors for the skin. Omega-3s fight inflammation, arthritis and help to relieve dandruff and other skin irritations. Omega-6 fats replace skin oils that keep skin looking young and hair shiny. Both can be found in many dog-friendly foods: salmon, sardines, tuna, anchovies and mackerel
    Quick Tip: Try canned wild alaskan salmon or pre-packaged sardines. Both are affordable and easy options (no cooking required!) and both can be found at local grocery stores and even online.
  • Eggs. Fully-cooked eggs are an excellent source of digestible protein, omega-3 fatty acids (in the yolk only), iron, phosphorous, selenium and vitamins A, B12, B2 and B5 (among other disease-fighting nutrients). One egg every week or two is a fantastic nutritional add-on for your pup
    Quick Tip: Don’t feel like waiting 10 minutes to boil eggs? Put an egg in a microwavable bowl, stir it up, and cook for 1 minute. Re-stir and cook for another 15-30 seconds until fully cooked.

    LEARN MORE: HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST DOG FOOD

    Additional Ways to Promote a Healthy Dog Coat and Skin 
    • Brush daily. Regular brushing helps distribute the natural oils in the skin to the coat, moisturizing the hair and leading to a shinier, glossier coat.
    • Limit bathing. The general rule of thumb is to bathe a healthy dog once a month.
    • The right shampoo. Use an all natural, mild, and hypoallergenic dog shampoo or human baby shampoo. Consider shampoos with moisturizing ingredients like aloe vera and oatmeal. Avoid shampoos with added chemicals and toxic ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate, synthetic fragrances, triclosan, and polysorbates.
    • Oatmeal. Oatmeal cleanses skin, locks in moisture, and relieves itching. To make an oatmeal bath, grind a cup of oatmeal into fine pieces and add to warm bath water. Bathe your pup in the oatmeal solution for 10-15 minutes, gently massaging the water into his coat. Rinse fully.
    • Other nutritional supplements. Some people swear by dog-friendly omega-3 and omega-6 supplements. Please speak to your vet before adding these to your pup’s meal, as too many add-ons could cause indigestion or diarrhea.

    What Causes a Dull Coat?

    Keeping in mind that genetics and age do affect dog coat appearance to an extent, the following factors are common culprits behind dull locks:
    • Low quality dog food. Lower quality dog food makers often skimp on or completely exclude high quality animal protein sources. Instead, they opt for cheaper and lower quality alternatives like “animal digest”, “animal by-products”, “animal fat”, unspecified meat meals, corn, and rice flour. Dog food made with low quality ingredients will not give your pup the best nutritional profile and can ultimately affect his overall health and coat texture and appearance. Not sure which ingredients in dog food are good and bad? Here is a comprehensive resource for identifying the best and worst ingredients in dog food.
    • Improperly balanced homemade diet. Although making meals for your dog is a wonderful way to ensure quality and freshness of ingredients, please always speak to your vet before cooking to ensure you are including every essential nutrient your pup needs to stay healthy.
    • Ticks, fleas and other parasites. Parasites like tapeworms, hookworms and roundworms can deplete your dog of key nutrients that help keep his or her coat healthy and shiny.
    • Other illness or health problems. Other illness or disease can similarly dull a dog’s coat, so always make sure your little one has a clean bill of health by visiting your vet regularly.
    When to Visit the Vet

    If your dog has excessive shedding, sudden or unusual hair loss (i.e. bald spots), or shows other signs of ailing coat health, please arrange a wellness appointment with your veterinarian.

     

    Additional resources





    Leave a comment

    Comments will be approved before showing up.


    Also in DJANGO Dog Blog

    A Pup Above Fresh Dog Food Review | Our Personal Experience With the Sous-Vide Dog Food Subscription Service
    A Pup Above Fresh Dog Food Review | Our Personal Experience With the Sous-Vide Dog Food Subscription Service

    September 22, 2021

    In our ongoing quest to find the healthiest, most nutritious, and highest-quality food for our 14 lb dog Django, we (Mike and Steph) have tested almost every fresh dog food subscription service on the market. We are selective with what we feed Django and look for dog food brands that use high quality animal proteins, nutrient-packed and wholesome ingredients, and avoid fillers, preservatives, and artificial ingredients.

    We discovered A Pup Above earlier this year and have been very happy with our experience. We feel good about giving Django A Pup Above because it is made with free-range animal protein, non-GMO veggies, rich and natural gravy, and super spices. The company is also environmentally conscious and strives to keep its carbon footprint small. It uses ugly produce that would be chucked into landfills, and it stores its recipes without using fossil fuels. This is a mission we can get behind because we built our family-owned small business to be environmentally philanthropic.

    In this DJANGO Dog Blog post, we provide an in-depth and unbiased review of A Pup Above sous-vide fresh dog food. All opinions are our own and based on our own personal experience feeding A Pup Above to our dachshund Django.

    View full article →

    DJANGO Dog Blog Interview: Puddin the Blind Dog, Instagram's Most High-Spirited and Courageous Terrier Mix
    Interview: Puddin the Blind Dog, Instagram's Most High-Spirited and Courageous Terrier Mix

    September 15, 2021

    Puddin is a spunky terrier mix and one of Instagram’s most uplifting dogfluencers. After being neglected and abandoned at 6 weeks old, Puddin developed a very severe eye infection. By the time the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of Texas stepped in and rescued her, Puddin was completely blind. She needed to have her eyes removed and her eye sockets were sewn together.

    Despite being unable to see, Puddin has a spirited and brave personality and is now living a normal and healthy life in Lubbock, Texas. We caught up with her new owner, Cory Gonzales, to discuss Puddin’s rescue and rehabilitation and to debunk some common myths about blind dogs. Gonzales also talked with us about traveling with a special needs dog and how Puddin positively impacts his mental health.

    View full article →

    DJANGO: Shop Stylish and Modern Cotton Rope Dog Leashes with Solid Cast Brass Hardware - djangobrand.com
    Shop DJANGO's Stylish and Modern Cotton Rope Dog Leashes

    August 27, 2021

    DJANGO's cotton rope dog leash collection is here! You and your dog will be the most stylish ones on the sidewalk with our handcrafted and hand-dyed solid and ombre cotton rope dog leashes. From hand-dyeing the high quality 100% cotton yarns to hand-splicing and whipping the rope ends, we provide an in-depth look at what goes into our new, beautiful rope leashes.

    Shop all cotton rope leashes now on djangobrand.com.

    View full article →