Your dog's coat can actually tell you a lot about his or her overall health. A dull, patchy coat can be a sign of other problems, while a shiny coat can help reassure you that you have a healthy dog. Here are some tips on what your dog's coat says about their health, and what you can do to keep it shiny:
- Diet: A shiny, healthy dog coat can be a good indicator that your dog is eating a well-balanced diet. For a healthy coat, try to go with a dog food that contains protein and fatty acids from high-quality ingredients. Foods that are also free of grains may make a difference in a dog's overall health, especially if they have allergies. If you find that your dog's coat is either dry or dull, try making the switch to a more well-balanced food. Purina ONE, which is free of added artificial flavors and includes real meat and botanical oils, offers balanced nutrition and is optimized to help keep dogs healthy.
- Brushing: A dull coat can simply be a sign of dead hair follicles and excessive dander. Brushing your dog regularly helps remove dead hair and dander, and it can also stimulate new hair growth. For long-haired pups, a daily brushing is key to a healthy dog coat, but once a week should be the absolute minimum for most breeds.
- Bath: A dry or dull coat can also be a sign that you are bathing your dog too often. Keeping your dog's coat healthy and shiny requires finding a happy medium in the bathtub. You should wash him or her often enough to keep them clean, but not so often that your dog's skin becomes dry. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, non-shedding breeds usually need to be bathed about every six to eight weeks, and dogs that have a heavy undercoat should be bathed in the spring or fall. How often you bathe your dog will depend on his or her age, lifestyle and type of coat. Just make sure your dog's natural body oils remain balanced in order to maintain a shiny coat.
- Grooming products: When it comes to maintaining a healthy dog coat, what you bathe your dog with is just as important as how often you bathe them. If your dog's hair is patchy or dry, it's possible they are sensitive or even allergic to the products you are using. Use a mild shampoo, with minimal ingredients, or ask your veterinarian for a recommendation.
- Fleas, ticks and allergies: Pests, like fleas or ticks, can not only leave your dog itchy, but they can also damage his or her coat. All the scratching and biting caused by flea and tick bites, as well as seasonal allergies, can leave your dog's coat a little ragged. Make sure to follow a regular routine for flea and tick prevention, and try to keep your dog indoors as much as possible when allergy season is at its peak.
It's important to keep in mind that a dull coat or dry skin can sometimes be a sign of hypothyroidism — a hormonal imbalance within your dog — or a much more serious health condition, including parasites and kidney problems. If you suspect an underlying health issue, consult your veterinarian right away.
A shiny coat isn't just about looking good, it's also a sign of a healthy dog, which makes for a happy dog — and happy owner, too.
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