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dog parent basics
Black terrier on a sofa

📷 by Katja Rooke

Every dog owner dreams of having a dog whose coat of fur is luscious and shiny. But all too often, this isn’t reality. If your dog’s coat is dull and matted, you may be wondering why.

Healthy skin is key to a shiny coat that’s glossy and mat-free. While your dog’s skin health often begins from within, there are steps you can take to help keep your pup’s coat glossy.

7 ways to make your dog’s coat shiny

1. Know the signs of good skin health in your dog

Before you do anything else, familiarize yourself with the signs of good doggie skin health so you can examine your dog’s skin and coat. This will help you get an idea of where you’re starting from. Look for any skin irritation on your dog.

Signs of good skin health include flexibility; smoothness; and the absence of crusts, odors, and growth. A healthy coat will be glossy and pliable, without dandruff, bald spots, or excessive oiliness.

2. Boost your pup’s skin with omega-3s

If your dog struggles with dandruff, itching, or dry skin, omega-3s can help . Omega-3s are fatty acids that support good skin health. Flaky skin or a brittle coat can be signs of an omega-3 deficiency.

Sources of omega-3s for dogs include peanut butter, salmon, sardines, and chia seeds. While some dog foods contain omega-3s already, your dog might need extra supplementation to help improve the skin and coat.

If your vet thinks omega-3 supplements are needed, look into options such as Premium Care Omega Chews. These high-nutrition chews contain ingredients, such as wild Alaskan fish oil, that promote skin and coat health.

Another good option is the Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet capsules. If your dog won’t eat them, roll the capsule into a small amount of wet dog food.

Natural Dog Company’s Salmon Oil serves as a liquid option for an omega-3 and omega-6 supplement. Helpful for dogs with recurring skin problems, the proper dosage of this oil can simply be added to your dog’s food.

3. Brush your dog’s coat

Regular brushing will help keep your pet’s hair in good condition. Brushing is an important way to remove dirt, spread natural oils, and prevent tangles and mats.

Mats can irritate the skin , cause discomfort, and trap moisture close to the skin. This can leave the skin susceptible to bacterial or parasite infections — which, in turn, cause even more issues for your pup.

Different dog breeds have different types of coats and different shedding patterns. That means the frequency you should brush your dog and the supplies you should use will vary by breed. Here’s how to brush your dog based on their coat:

Coat type Brushes needed How often? Common breeds
Smooth, short coat Rubber brush, bristle brush, chamois cloth Once a week Chihuahua, boxer, basset hound
Short, dense fur Slicker brush, bristle brush, furminator brush Once a week Retrievers
Long, silky coat Slicker brush, bristle brush Every day Yorkshire terrier
Long hair Slicker brush, bristle brush, may need to clip hair Every day Collie, Afghan hound

4. Bathe your pup at least once every 3 months

Bathe your pup at least once every 3 months using one of the best dog shampoos. Don’t use human shampoo — this will make your dog’s skin dry and flaky.

Baths keep your dog’s skin and coat clean and healthy, washing off dead skin as well as preventing infection. But don’t overdo it with the suds: In most cases, one bath per month is plenty.

👉 Excessive bathing can irritate and dry your dog’s skin and hair.

Before bathing your dog, put cotton balls in their ears. Use warm water and shampoo to lather them up everywhere except the head. Then rinse them off, dry them using a towel, and comb or brush the fur. Remember to remove cotton balls from ears and clean ears using a routine ear cleaner like Epi-Otic.

5. Consider dietary adjustments

In some cases, your dog might need some dietary changes to support good skin health and a shiny coat. Look at the ingredients of the dog food you buy to make sure you’re feeding your dog a high-quality, balanced diet with all the nutrients and vitamins they need. Vegetables, tuna, grain, salmon, and wheat are a few common ingredients you might find in commercial dog food.

While many people think eggs will give dogs a shiny coat, this is most likely a myth. A high-fat diet, however, can help give your dog’s coat a glossy sheen. That’s where foods like salmon (a good source of omega-3 fatty acids) can help.

Don’t make any diet changes without speaking to your vet first. Your vet can help you choose the best food for your dog’s age and breed. They’ll also be able to weigh in on whether your dog’s current diet is high-quality.

6. Keep up with parasite prevention

It’s important to stay on top of parasite prevention. Mites, fleas, and ticks can cause problems with your dog’s skin and coat, while intestinal parasites might affect the coat by preventing your dog from receiving all the nutrients in their food.

Your vet can guide you through the process of deworming puppies to treat them for intestinal parasites. You’ll also need to give your dog medicine for ongoing parasite prevention (including fleas and ticks) at home. Regular checkups are essential, too. The vet will examine and check your dog, making sure no parasites have slipped through the cracks.

You can also keep parasites at bay by regularly trimming your lawn and bushes (creating fewer places for parasites to hide out); keeping your dog away from other dogs’ feces, which may contain intestinal parasite eggs; and regularly grooming your dog.

7. Make an oatmeal bath

Oatmeal is a skin protectant that can help soothe itchy skin, relieving conditions like canine atopic dermatitis. An oatmeal bath can also help your dog’s skin keep moisture and hydration.

To give your dog an oatmeal bath, grind plain oatmeal in your blender to create a fine powder. Pour this powder into a bathtub of lukewarm water and stir.

Next, put your dog in the tub and pour the solution over them. Massage the oatmeal into your dog’s fur and let it soak for 10 minutes. Then rinse them off, dry the dog, and brush out their fur.

While the oatmeal water won’t hurt your dog, try to prevent your pet from drinking it.

Frequently asked questions

Are eggs good for a dog’s coat?

It’s a popular idea among pet owners that eggs can give dogs a shinier coat. But, this is probably a myth. What is true: A diet high in fat and protein can help give your dog’s coat a glossy sheen.

Does peanut butter make a dog’s coat shiny?

Peanut butter is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids that support good skin health. The better your dog’s skin health, the shinier their coat is going to look. But, keep in mind that peanut butter is very calorie-dense, and your pup may gain unwanted weight. A fish oil supplement would be a healthier option.