How to Keep a Dog's Coat Healthy
To keep your dog looking and feeling his best, a clean and healthy coat is imperative. There is always that one person you know that was just born with a great head of hair that requires zero fuss. Well, dogs are a lot like this. Occasionally, you come across one that just naturally has a beautiful coat, but the other 99 percent have to work at looking good. That's where you come in!
It is a common misconception that a great groomer is responsible for a gorgeous coat. While they may play their role, there are other factors to consider as well, such as diet and exercise. There are also some that feel that dogs are supposed to be dirty and that it doesn't really matter how clean and healthy their coat is. Understand that their coat is there for more than aesthetic purposes. It keeps them warm in the winter and cooler in the summer, wards off dirt, protects from parasites, repels static and it is even fire-resistant.
Believe it or not, there is such a thing as too many baths. Some breeds, such as Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies, don't need to be bathed as often as others, because dirt literally falls off their coat. Of course, this does not mean that you should skip the bath altogether! As a rule, bathe your dog when they are dirty. If you have a rainy month and a swampy yard, you may need to bathe more frequently than in the middle of winter. The important thing is that you always use a quality shampoo, especially if you have to bathe more often.
Cheap shampoos and conditioners can leave your dog's skin dry and itchy, just like how you feel if you have to use the wrong soap. These products will also leave their coat dull and lifeless. Again, think about how your own hair looks when you use an organic product compared to a cheap brand full of artificial fragrances, dyes and parabens.
Most importantly, make sure that you rinse all the shampoo out. This can be challenging, but it is really important!
Use the Proper Tools
Contrary to what you may think all brushes are not created equal, not even close. Your dog's coat will dictate which type of brush you use. This means that if you have three dogs of different breeds, you may need three unique dog grooming brushes.
Natural Bristle Brush - All types of short and medium coasts respond well to these brushes.
Slicker - Dogs with a dense undercoat should have a slicker brush used on them, especially during heavy shedding times.
Pin Brush - If your dog has a woolly, super thick coat, this is the brush for you.
Curry Comb - Breeds with short hair will benefit from a curry comb.
Ideally, brushing will be done daily. There are some dogs with short coats that may be able to skip a day occasionally, but longer coats, especially those that are prone to matting, need to be brushed daily.
You were probably told from a young age that you are what you eat, which likely didn't make a lot of sense at the time, if you were trying to take it at face value. Well, this applies to dogs too. Their skin and coat needs a proper diet that is rich in essential vitamins and minerals for it to look and feel its best.
The importance of offering a quality dog food cannot be stressed enough. The better food you feed your dog now, the less risk you have for expensive vet visits in the future.
Some people prefer to simply give their dog a daily supplement. While this may be acceptable, it is vital that you make sure the supplement that you offer is high quality. Artificial strands of nutrients can actually do more harm than good.
Protein - This is a vital nutrient! Your dog's body uses protein for muscle first, and then the skin and coat get the leftovers. If there is not enough to spare, the coat will suffer.
Fatty Acids - Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential building blocks, when it comes to the healthy of your dog's coat. Plus, they can reduce dandruff, itching and skin problems related to allergies. Fish meal, fish oil and flax are ingredients to look for in their food. You can also pour a teaspoon of flaxseeds, olive oil or salmon oil right into your dog's food.
Raw Food - If you are nervous about buying raw meat, or aren't quite sure what cuts you should offer, there are plenty of frozen medallions or freeze-dried mixes with fruits and vegetables available. You will quickly see a difference in their coat when they eat the purest ingredients.
If you don't already have plenty of reasons to exercise your dog, here is one more. Physical activity forces oxygen to pump a little harder through the blood. Oxygen is a key component to healthy skin. Not only that, exercise prevents obesity, tones muscles and bones, improves sleep, strengthens the cardiovascular system, enhances mental alertness, stabilises mood, promotes overall health and offers great socialising opportunities.
Always make sure that you inspect your dog's coat and paws after a walk or run. If they enjoy swimming either in the lake or a pool, they should be rinsed off as soon as possible. Chlorine is very drying, and you never know what they can pick up while they are frolicking in fresh water sources.