Maintaining a Healthy Skin and Coat

By August 18, 2023Dogs

A shiny coat on the outside starts with a healthy dog on the inside. Dogs who are sick or stressed will conserve nutrients for essential bodily functions, thus their coat will become brittle. Similarly, dogs who are not receiving adequate amount of nutrition will be unable to produce a glossy coat. These factors lead to a dog having dull, dry or flaky coat.

Our dog’s fur are made up of a type of protein named keratin. Just like human hair, it grows from follicles on the inner layer of the skin. What makes it different from human hair is that when it reaches a certain length, it stops growing and falls out. This is also known as shedding. Overall, there are three different types of hair in our dog’s coat: the undercoat, the guard, and the whiskers.

The undercoat sits closest to the skin and is a thick, soft layer of hair that keeps your dog warm. The guard is a thicker, longer layer that produces oil to protect your dog from the elements. Whiskers are found on their face and helps dogs sense their surroundings when they can’t see. Different dog breeds has coats that are of different textures, colours, and thickness. So what exactly contributes to a dog having healthy skin and coat?

Feeding a Complete and Balanced Diet
In order to maintain healthy skin and a glossy coat, your dog requires a complete and balanced diet. When your dog is in good health, the nutrients they ingest are used for normal body functions and maintenance. After the essential bodily functions are satisfied, additional nutrients can be used for other tasks such as growing a luscious coat.

If your dog’s diet is of poor quality, they may not be able to extract necessary or sufficient nutrients from their food. Improperly balanced diets can also cause dysfunction in certain body systems, resulting in impaired skin function. Your dog should eat a diet specifically formulated for their life stage and health status. You could also consult your veterinarian about how much healthy fat is right for your dog depending on breed, age and lifestyle.

Providing Supplements for Coat Health
A shiny, soft coat is a key indicator of your dog’s health. Essential fatty acids such as Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9 supports the foundation of your dog’s skin and coat by strengthening proteins and improve collagen production, making the skin stronger and coats shinier. Having a good essential fatty acid level means your dog’s skin will retain moisture, protect against the environment and grow a shinier coat.

Omega-3 is a type of polyunsaturated fat that cannot be produced by the body but is important for strengthening the proteins of the skin and fur, with their anti-inflammatory properties most beneficial. Similar to Omega-3, Omega-6 are also polyunsaturated fats that cannot be produced by the body. It helps to keep cells within the skin and fur, healthy and regenerating quickly. Contrastingly, Omega-9 are monounsaturated and are produced within the body. It helps reduce inflammation and aids in the construction of healthy skin cells and hair follicles.

Now that you know the benefits of essential fatty acids, do you know which food source can it be found in? Essential fatty acids can be found in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines, plant oils, eggs, or even peanut butter. You could also give your dog an extra boost of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants by adding skin and coat supplements into their diet. It’s important to ensure that your dog gets enough water throughout the day for overall health as well!

Making a Bathtime Routine
Bathing your dog will remove any dirt, debris and odours from their coat and skin, and also helps to clear away any allergens that causes skin irritation. Dogs don’t need to be bathed as often as humans do. Their delicate skin needs time to produce its own natural oils, and they are relatively adept at cleaning themselves.

Generally, dogs will need a bath every 2-4 weeks depending on their individual needs, unless absolutely necessary. Bathing too frequently can dry out a dog’s coat and lead to flaky skin. Some pets require more frequent bathing if they tend to become dirty or if they suffer from allergies.

Scheduling Time for Brushing
Brushing your dog’s coat between grooming helps spread their natural oils, keep more of their skin and coat moisturized. It also helps to remove loose fur which prevents matting and promotes blood and air circulation to the follicles. Whether your dog has short or long hair, brushing will help remove debris from the coat and stimulate cell turnover. Regular brushing will reduce the amount of dog sheds around the house and is a great way to strengthen the human animal bond.

Providing Consistent Parasite Prevention
This is important for both overall health, and when it comes to keeping a healthy, shiny coat. External parasites can irritate your dog’s skin, causing them to scratch, bite or chew at themselves. This leads to micro tears in the skin barrier and secondary skin infections, leaving your dog with red, flaky skin and a poor, thin coat. On the other hand, dogs with intestinal parasites will lose essential nutrients and the quality of their coat will diminish. There are many solutions when it comes to prevention of parasites, ranging from topical solutions, tablets, and collar options. Select the one that is best suited for your dog.

Offering Your Dog Regular Exercise
Activity gets your dog’s heart pumping and the blood flowing. Regular cardiovascular activity improves circulation even when your dogs are resting. This increase in circulation helps the blood carry necessary nutrients to the skin and other organs. Not only does this enhance overall health, it also improves the quality of your dog’s skin and coat. Constant exercise also prevents obesity which is a major contributor to total body inflammation and decreased health, both of which can lead to a reduction in the quality of your dog’s fur.

All in all, a healthy dog coat should be soft and free from dandruff and greasiness. This happens when your dog’s coat and skin is producing just the right amount of natural oils, and is generally in good health. Dry and brittle fur, excess shedding, dandruff and itchy skin are signs that something is not right. Changes might have to be made to your dog’s diet, or eliminate something in the environment that could have triggered an allergy.

If your dog’s coat remains dull, dry and flaky despite trying all the tips above, or if they start developing other signs of illness such as decreased energy or anorexia, it is recommended to consult your veterinarian. These could be signs of an internal medical issue. Even if your dog appears to look normal on the outside, your veterinarian may uncover something even the most dedicated pet parents can overlook.

Any views or opinions communicated on this page belong to the author and do not represent the views or opinions of any other organizations. This article is meant for us to share our own views and opinions in general. Kindly consult a professional if you would like to seek professional advice.


Adopted from sources

– 10 Ways To Improve Your Dog’s Skin And Coat: Supplements, Hygiene & More. By Pupford.

– Healthy Coat For Dogs: 8 Tips And Tricks To Try. By Sylvalyn Hammond, Great Pet Care.

– How To Improve Your Dog’s Coat Condition And Skin. By Rhiannon Rowlands, Pooch And Mutt.

– Images of dogs, Pexels.