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How to Keep Your Dog’s Coat Shiny and Healthy

cocker spaniel dog

There's no denying that a soft and shiny dog coat makes our four-legged friends look beautiful. However, the condition of your dog's fur doesn't just determine how cute they look; it's a vital indicator of their overall health.  If your dog's coat is dry and brittle, it could signify a serious underlying condition. But luckily, there are numerous things you can do at home to enhance the state of their coat and thus improve their health. Read on to learn what causes a dull dog coat and how to prevent it.

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Why Do Dog Coats Go Dull?

If you've noticed your pup's fur has lost its shine and feels more brittle than soft, it's time to investigate why. This involves taking your canine to the vet for a thorough examination and diagnosis. Here are some potential causes for dry and brittle dog hair.
  • Poor diet - The phrase "you are what you eat" applies to canines as well as humans. If your pup is eating low-quality dog food lacking protein, you'll start to see the adverse effects through their fur. A dog's coat is made of keratin, which is mainly protein. Therefore, your pup's diet must be high in this nutrient. 
  • Fleas and ticks - A parasite infestation is another common culprit for brittle and dull dog coats. When fleas and ticks get onto your pup's skin, they cause intense irritation, making your dog itch like crazy. Excessive itching and chewing cause fur to fall out, leaving unsightly patches. 
  • Depression and boredom - If your dog feels bored or depressed, they may start licking and biting their fur excessively, leading to dull and patchy hair. However, depression doesn't just affect their coat condition; it can lead to severe behavioral issues like aggression. 
  • Thyroid disorders - Although a less common cause, decreased production of thyroid hormones can lower the quality of a dog's fur coat and take away the shine.
  • Diabetes - Dogs are not immune to diabetes, and one of the symptoms is thinning of the skin, which can result in patches of hair falling out.

Five Ways To Maintain A Shiny Dog Coat

You can tell if your dog's fur coat is healthy by the overall appearance and texture. A healthy dog coat will be soft to touch, with a full and shiny appearance. However, if it feels brittle, looks dull, or you notice bald patches or excessive shedding, this is a sign that the coat needs some attention. Here are six ways you can bring their fur back to top condition.

1. Brushing

Regular coat brushing prevents dirt and loose hair build-up and stimulates the skin and hair follicles. This stimulation increases the production of natural oils needed to create that glossy feel.  How often you should brush your dog will depend on their breed and coat type, ranging from daily to weekly. It's also essential to choose the correct brush for your dog's hair type. So before buying, conduct some research or consult your vet. For more grooming tips, visit our article on how to groom a dog.

2. Bathing

Washing your dog from time to time is essential to get rid of the excess dirt and bacteria your pup accumulates during their time outdoors. However, if you've washed your dog before, you probably noticed how soft and silky their coat feels afterward. Most dog shampoos contain moisturizing ingredients to create this smooth feeling. Moreover, some contain medicated ingredients to treat skin ailments your dog might be suffering from, such as eczema and mange. When using dog shampoo, work the product into the skin well and rinse off thoroughly. To make it extra soft, you can apply a lotion and fur oil afterward. Like with brushing, the frequency of bathing depends on the type of dog fur they have and their lifestyle. Be careful not to over bathe your dog, though, as this can cause a disturbance in the natural oils secreted by their skin, increasing the level of dryness. If you're unsure how often to wash your dog, speak to your veterinarian. They will consider their fur type, home environment, and the season to give you the best advice on bath frequency.

3. Massaging the dog

It's not just humans that enjoy a good massage; dogs do too! Massaging your dog helps stimulate their blood flow, promoting healthy hair growth and distributing the natural oils throughout their fur.  Aside from the physical benefits, massaging your canine will also help them relax and de-stress, serving as a fun bonding experience for both of you. High-quality coconut oil is the best massaging product to use. It is incredibly moisturizing and safe for your pup to lick off!

4. Healthy diet

Nowadays, you can find a wide range of dog foods specially formatted to give your dog a healthy, shiny coat. However, the most important thing to consider when selecting their food is the percentage of protein. You can get an idea of this by looking at the ingredients. If you see grains and other fillers as the top three ingredients, likely, the food is not high in protein. Ideally, protein should be one of the first ingredients listed.  If you like to give your dog home-cooked foods, consider ingredients that contribute to a shiny coat. These include liver, peanut butter, eggs, chia seeds, chicken, coconut, yogurt, and even oatmeal. In addition, many pet owners are now switching to feeding their dogs a raw diet, which is an excellent way to incorporate these foods. There is also a range of supplements that you can add to your dog's food to boost their immune system and make their coats shiny and healthy. Fish oils such as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are some of the best options for combating dry hair and skin. You can also add a small amount of flaxseed or coconut oil, which has moisturizing properties. These are available from your local vet shop and most major retailers.

5. Mental stimulation

Did you know that dogs, just like us humans, can suffer from depression? Loneliness, stressful environments, and health issues can all affect your dog's mental health and the appearance of their coat. One of the most common symptoms of depression is excessive chewing and licking, which leads to hair loss or sparseness. However, by focusing on improving your dog's mental health, you will notice a change for the better in every aspect of their health, including their fur. So how do you keep your dog happy? By plenty of affection and playtime! Dogs love nothing more than playing and interacting with their owners. Exercise and play are essential for their physical health, encouraging them to move around and release pent-up energy. It has also been shown to reduce depression in dogs, too. Therefore, be sure to schedule plenty of play and walks to allow your pup to reap the benefits of fresh air and exercise and boost their mental and physical health.

Final Thoughts

The condition of your dog's coat reflects their health and wellbeing. Knowing how to make your dog's coat shiny will allow you to keep them looking and feeling good. Aside from grooming, a nutritious diet and plenty of play and affection are essential to ensuring the shine of your pup's coat.
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