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essential tips

The essentials

  • A dog’s shiny coat is an indicator of overall health — An oily, matted, or thinning coat may be the sign of a health or skin problem. 
  • The path to a shiny coat doesn’t need to be complicated — While changes in diet or routines may be helpful or even necessary, simply brushing your dog goes a long way. 
  • Consult your vet before making major changes — Talk to your veterinarian before you switch diets or try a new skin care routine.

Your dog’s skin health begins from within – and a shiny, luscious, mat-free coat is an indicator of their overall health. 

As a pet parent, you’re likely on the hunt for the best ways to support your dog’s coat, helping to maintain that radiant shine and soft texture you both love. If so, you’ve come to the right place! Here are some of our best tips and tricks for supporting your dog’s skin health and coat appearance.

1. Know the signs of skin health and watch for irritation

Your pup’s coat health begins at the skin level – and recognizing the signs of skin irritation, allergies, or topical inflammation will help you catch coat issues before they arise. It isn’t hard to check your dog’s fur and skin health. Take a look during your regular afternoon cuddle session, keeping an eye out for signs of irritation. 

Healthy skin typically looks smooth and flexible, without flaking, redness, hair loss, crusts, or obvious irritation. If the coat looks oily or thin or there is an odor from the skin, these can be signs of a potential problem. 

Watch for signs of irritation, such as odors, or crusty, moist, red, or black skin. By doing these skin checks regularly, you’ll lay a strong foundation for a lifetime of health for your dog’s skin and coat. 

2. Supplement your dog’s skin health with omega-3

Sometimes, your pet’s coat may need a little TLC. Dandruff and itchiness can be signs of hypothyroidism, allergies, or irritation. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements, in particular DHA, are a great way to improve your pet’s skin health, and they are also easy to work into your pet’s diet.

Before adding any supplements to your dog’s diet, be sure to consult with your veterinarian. They’ll be able to recommend dosage amounts and brands to support your pet’s health. One great source of omega-3 fatty acids is ZipZyme™ Omega, a food grown from ocean algae, a natural, safe, plant-based source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a particular type of omega-3.

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3. Build in time to brush

Brushing is key to keeping your pet’s fur hydrated, soft, and healthy. You’ll spread natural oils from follicle to tip with every brushing session, alleviating itching and avoiding tangles and mats later on. 

Without regular brushing, your dog’s fur can develop irritating knots and tangles, which can keep moisture close to the skin. These can lead to further irritation and hot spots or localized bacterial skin infections. 

Looking for recommendations on brushing and care for your dog’s coat? Check out our breed brushing table below.

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. Make a monthly bath routine

The ASPCA recommends bathing your dog at least every three months to avoid skin irritation, buildup, and oiliness, but some pups may need more frequent pampering. Either way, offer lots of pup-friendly toys before the bath to shed excess energy and treats afterward to reward well-behaved dogs for a job well done. Here are some other bath time tips:

Bathing tips

Lather your pup from neck to rump, leaving the head area clear of water and suds. After you gently work the shampoo through the fur, give it a good rinse, and dry with a soft towel. After bathing, consider brushing or combing the clean fur to help evenly disperse the surface oils on the skin. 

Ear hygiene matters, too. Consider investing in a routine pet ear cleaner, such as Epi-Otic for after-bathtime ear cleaning.

👉 When grooming, consider finding the best dog shampoo for your pup. It should be pet-specific and gentle, as human soaps dry out a dog’s skin.

5. Consider a change in diet

Your dog’s diet directly impacts their skin health. Fillers or other irritating ingredients can be hiding in your pet’s food, so feed your dog a balanced diet with high-quality ingredients from a trusted source. 

Your dog needs nutrition sourced from vegetables, grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. During the diet evaluation process, pet parents may realize that their pup’s food isn’t quite hitting the mark.

 If you plan to switch your pet’s diet to a more nutrient-dense option, speak with your veterinarian. They’ll be able to help you choose the best food for your pup and discuss a safe transition to the new diet.

6. Prevent parasites

Skin mites, ticks, and fleas can all affect your dog’s coat, and their presence can have widespread health consequences for your pet. These can range from topical irritation to a potentially life-threatening tick-borne disease , depending on the type of vector.

If you’re concerned about a parasite affecting your dog’s skin and coat, consider reaching out to your vet. They’ll be able to guide you as to what diagnostic tests are needed and the best way to treat them.

You can also preventatively manage the risk of parasites in your pup by taking them to regular checkups and by keeping your dog on year-round flea/tick prevention. Regular grooming can help too, as your groomer will also examine your dog’s skin for possible parasites and report any concerns to you.

7. Try an oatmeal bath

Oatmeal soothes itchy, irritated skin. If your dog struggles with eczema, oatmeal is especially beneficial, promoting moisture retention and deep hydration. It’s easy to make a pet-friendly oatmeal bath at home with these steps:

  • Grind plain oatmeal in your blender to make a fine powder, then pour the blend into lukewarm bath water and stir to combine.
  • After the bath is ready, bathe your pet and massage the mixture into the skin and coat, then let it sit for 10 minutes.
  • Afterward, rinse, dry, and brush your pet’s coat.

You can also purchase over-the-counter oatmeal-based pet shampoo options for a more convenient way to soothe your pet’s skin. Oatmeal baths are safe, but dogs shouldn’t drink the bath water. Discourage this as much as possible throughout.

Frequently asked questions

What does a shiny coat on a dog mean?

A shiny coat usually means your pet has healthy skin and a well-balanced diet. It can also mean that your pet is well cared for, since a shiny, well-kept coat is a sign of excellent hygiene habits such as brushing and bathing. 

What can I feed my dog for a shiny coat?

If you want to support your dog’s coat health, feed them a high-quality and well-balanced diet. Add an omega-3 food such as ZipZyme™ Omega.

How can you tell if a dog’s coat is healthy?

Every dog’s coat is unique. Common signs of a healthy dog coat include radiance and shine, as well as smooth skin underneath. If you notice hair loss, itchiness (excessive scratching or licking), oiliness, flaking, crusts or an odor, it’s time to get a checkup, as this could be a sign of health and skin problems. 

Does coconut oil help your dog’s skin and coat? 

Coconut oil can be helpful for dogs that are prone to dryness and flaking, as it moisturizes the surface of the skin and coat. If you’re looking to support your pup’s skin and coat hydration, simply dab a bit on your fingertips and massage into the coat. However, while this can be helpful, it’s important to avoid using it too liberally. Too  much coconut oil on your dog’s skin and coat can cause moisture buildup and skin irritation in high doses. A secondary (and less messy) option would be omega-3 fatty acids supplements. These can be more effective than topical solutions to address your pet’s skin needs.