How to Care for Your Dog’s Coat
Dog coats come in as many styles as our hair, but unlike human hair, their coats play a significant role in maintaining proper health. Your dog’s fur might be short and smooth, long and silky, wiry and curly, or even thick and corded like the Hungarian Sheepdog. Whatever type of coat your pup has, it’s working hard to store vital nutrients, keep their internal temperature regulated, protect them from abrasions and infections, and keep them properly hydrated.
Learning to take great care of your dog’s coat will help them stay healthy and looking their best. And is there anything better than snuggling a dog with a shiny, healthy coat? We think not!
- Bathing & Grooming
- Diet & Nutrition
- What to Do for a Dull & Flaky Coat
- Additional Tips
- Make Life Easier With PetPlate
Bathing & Grooming for a Shiny Coat
Your dog’s bathing and grooming needs will depend on the type of coat they have, but all dogs need some level of coat care. Regular grooming protects your dog’s immune system and keeps their coat full and shiny.
How often you bathe your dog will depend on the breed and how active they are outside. Bathing once a month is a good rule of thumb for most dogs. Of course, if your dog gets really dirty on a walk (lookin’ at you, mud puddles!), you’ll want to bathe them afterward or wipe them down with a damp towel.
Baths are often more for the owner than for their dog’s health. If you have a sensitive nose or allergies, you may want to bathe your dog once a week. If you choose to go with weekly baths, be sure to use a gentle shampoo so you don’t strip the natural oils in your dog’s fur.
While all dogs could use a good bath now and then, regular brushing is more beneficial for dogs than frequent baths. Brushing helps remove loose fur to prevent painful matting in long-haired dogs, and it helps keep your dog’s hair and skin moisturized by distributing natural oils. Dogs with long or thick coats should be brushed every other day, while short-haired dogs benefit from a weekly brush down.
Professional visits vs. at-home care
All dogs can be groomed at home no matter their coat type, but some are more difficult to do without proper equipment and training. Some breeds require more than a simple bath and weekly brushing due to their particularly long or thick coats. Owners of breeds such as the poodle, Afghan hound, puli, Hungarian sheepdog, or bichon frise often choose to bring their dog in for professional grooming since it’s more time-intensive.
If you decide to do your dog’s bathing and grooming at home, be sure to use shampoos made specifically for dogs. There is a range of great shampoo options available depending on your dog’s coat type and any skin issues they may have, such as dryness or itching. You can find dog shampoos at your local pet store, online, or your vet’s office.
What to do if your dog hates baths
It’s an unfortunate reality that not all dogs love baths. If your dog treats bathtime like a death sentence, there are a few tricks you can try to make the experience better.
- Bathe them inside and make sure the water is comfortably warm. If you’ve been bathing your dog outside, they may just hate the cold water or find the garden hose scary.
- Put a mat or towel in the tub. This gives your dog better traction, so they aren’t slipping and don’t feel unbalanced. Feeling grounded will ease at least some of your dog’s anxiety.
- Make it a spa-like experience. You probably rush to get through the bath because it’s stressful, but this could be making your dog’s anxiety worse. In addition to trying the above tricks, be sure to talk to your dog in a soft, soothing voice throughout the bath. Give them a nice massage as you shampoo them. You can even put on some relaxing music. Eventually, they’ll learn that bathtime is when their favorite person lavishes them with treats and attention.
Diet & Nutrition for a Healthy Coat
Nutrition plays a big part in the health of your dog’s coat. Omega-3s and omega-6s are essential fatty acids that help keep your dog’s coat shiny and skin healthy. They also boost your dog’s immune system, reduce anxiety, and help puppies’ brain development.
Your dog is most likely getting enough omega-6s as these are found in many animal and plant sources. Omega-3s are more difficult to come by in traditional dog foods because they need to stay fresh and are sensitive to the high heat used to make dry kibble. To ensure your dog is getting this vital nutrient, look for fresh dog food containing fish, shellfish, flaxseed, or oil from plants or nuts.
Other essential nutrients for coat health are vitamins A, C, and E; zinc; and riboflavin. You can ensure your dog is getting a healthy balance of these nutrients by feeding them a well-rounded diet with plenty of whole foods.
An easy way to identify whether a brand of dog food is the right choice for your pup is by looking for fresh, human-grade ingredients. You want to avoid dog foods that contain ambiguous ingredients such as “meat meal” or “meat byproducts.” If you wouldn’t feel comfortable eating it based on the listed ingredients, it’s likely not a healthy, nutrient-dense option for your dog. You can find more guidance on choosing quality dog food here.
What to Do for a Dull & Flaky Coat
If you notice your dog’s coat is dull and flaky or they are very itchy, you can try some home remedies such as an oatmeal bath or coconut oil to soothe their skin. These will relieve any dry, itchy patches of skin and help your dog’s coat shine.
You can make an oatmeal bath by blending oats into a fine powder and adding them to a tub filled with warm water. The water should come up to your dog’s stomach so you can easily soak their legs and underside with the oatmeal water. Use a cup to distribute the mixture everywhere else, gently massage it in, and let it penetrate for about 10 minutes.
The easiest way to use coconut oil for your dog’s flaky skin and dull coat is by bathing them with a dog shampoo containing coconut oil. Otherwise, you can apply a small amount of the oil directly to your dog’s skin, give it about five minutes to absorb, and then use a damp towel to wipe off any excess.
Coat issues and itchiness can also be indicators of allergies. Like humans, dogs can be affected by seasonal allergies or food allergies. If a healthy diet, oatmeal baths, and coconut oil don’t seem to be helping, you should visit the vet to determine if your dog has an allergy. Your vet can recommend prescription treatments or identify what food your dog is allergic to.
- Check your dog for fleas and ticks after being outdoors. If you find a tick on your dog, follow these instructions to remove it safely.
- Regularly check your dog for dandruff, dry patches on their skin, or redness from excessive scratching.
- Always stay up to date with your dog’s flea and tick medications, as well as vet visits.
- Ensure your dog gets an appropriate amount of exercise for their age and breed. This reduces stress that can lead to skin and coat problems.
Make Life Easier With PetPlate
Good nutrition is one of the most effective ways to keep your dog’s coat and overall health in tip-top shape. PetPlate meals are designed by a veterinary nutritionist to ensure your dog gets all the nutrients they need in the tastiest way possible.
Our personalized meals include fresh, whole foods that contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well as the vitamins and minerals your dog needs to stay healthy and show off their beautiful shiny coat.
Ready to have healthy, human-grade dog food delivered right to your door? Getting started with PetPlate is simple and comes with a 100% Clean Bowl Guarantee. Answer a few quick questions to find out which dog-approved meal plan your pup will love most!