Keeping Coats Healthy: Three Easy Tips

Every pet looks its best with a healthy, shiny coat. Whether it’s the family cat or a show-ring star, pets deserve proper skin and coat care. Healthy skin and coat can also indicate overall health and wellness, and a sudden change in the health of the skin and coat often indicates an underlying medical problem. For these reasons, every owner should take time to maintain and inspect their pet’s skin and coat regularly. These three tips will help you keep your pet looking and feeling great.

1. Brush Daily (no need to floss)

Most pets don’t need daily brushing, but all can benefit from it. In addition, brushing daily reduces or eliminates the need for longer sessions of brushing in order to remove shedding hair or untangle a long coat. Brush your dog or cat for five minutes each day with a soft bristle brush (cats or small dogs), soft slicker brush  (medium-haired dogs), or a pin brush (long-haired dogs). Start at the rear end and work your way forward, pausing to remove shed hair from the brush. Some dogs can benefit from regular sessions with a Furminator, particularly in the spring or falling shedding seasons.

Use a wet-wipe and/or a grooming spray to remove any feces or dirt that has attached itself to the hind legs and rump-fur of your pet. You should also wipe the paws, and wipe away any tear stains at the corners of your pet’s eyes. Cats can also be stroked with a special dander-removing wipe that will help to reduce allergic reactions.

2. Add fish to your pet’s diet

Fish contains Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, as well as Vitamin E. Combined, these nutrients not only improve overall health (when used as part of a balanced, species-appropriate diet) but also make for smooth skin and a shiny coat. If you take fish oil capsules yourself, you can occasionally break one open over your dog’s dinner. How often, and how much oil to give, depends upon the dog’s size. Large dogs can easily take a human dose, while smaller dogs might do best to get a half-capsule once or twice a week.

There are also commercial supplements available containing fish oil. Look for wild Alaskan salmon oil. Avoid supplements that also contain vegetable oils like soybean oil or corn oil. Cod liver oil is also a healthful supplement, in moderation.

Raw fed pets can eat raw fish, but remember to freeze salmon for a minimum of three weeks before feeding it to prevent Pacific Salmon Fever. All cats and dogs can occasionally eat canned fish (not the kind in mustard). Canned jack mackerel or canned salmon is a good treat to feed, again in moderation. If your pet is overweight, add fish to the diet slowly, as it’s high in fat.

3. Bathe Regularly with Premium Shampoo

Don’t bathe your pet too often. If it’s a cat, it may need yearly or semi-annual baths. Dogs should bathe once a month or once every other month, and at most every two weeks. It’s most convenient and best for your pet (and your plumbing) to visit a self-service dog wash, where tubs, tools, and a variety of shampoos are available. If you need to bathe at home, do yourself a favor and purchase a hair trap for the tub and a blowdryer that has a no-heat setting.

Start by wetting the pet thoroughly and shampooing with a gentle, natural shampoo. Tea tree oil and coconut oil are ingredients I love for dogs. Cats need a shampoo specially designed for cats. Never use essential oils or products containing them on cats. Avoid harsh cleansers like sodium laureth sulfate. They can strip the hair of its moisture and make it brittle.

If the pet has medium or long hair, finish with a cream conditioner left in for a few minutes and then rinsed away. Blow-dry the hair coat with no heat, paying special attention to shedding areas. If your pet will tolerate the blowdryer on a fairly high setting, it’s a gentle way to rid the coat of dead hairs than brushing. Don’t forget to check and trim toenails and clean eyes and ears after bathing.

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