You love to pet your dog, but it’s no fun if his coat is bristly and dry. Your dog’s coat is more than just aesthetic; his outward appearance reflects his inward health. Certain foods and nutrients will keep his coat smooth, soft and healthy.
Complete and Balanced Diet
A diet that meets all of the nutritional requirements of a dog is the foundation of excellent health, including the health of the skin and coat. The words "complete and balanced" on a commercial dog food label indicate the food contains the proper balance of a dog's 38 known required daily nutrients. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, nutritional supplements are needed only in rare circumstances, and giving them may actually create a dietary imbalance for dogs who are already eating a nutritionally balanced food. Consult your veterinarian if your buddy's coat looks dull and unhealthy even though you feed him a complete and balanced dog food. He may be suffering from allergies, flea infestation, skin infection or metabolic disease.
Eggs are one of nature’s most complete foods. They make a great breakfast, but can you share those scrambled eggs with your buddy?
In the wild, dogs and other predators eat raw eggs straight from the nest. While veterinarians debate over serving these goodies raw or cooked, it’s best to cook eggs just to be safe, because raw eggs and eggshells can contain harmful salmonella.
If you give your buddy no more than one scrambled egg in his kibble, you’ll be adding extra essential fatty acids and vitamin A, both of which are necessary for healthy skin and coat, and both of which are already present in a complete and balanced food. If you choose to add an egg to Fido's diet, just don't feed him egg whites alone, because they can create a biotin deficiency. Biotin is important for cellular growth and healthy skin and coat. Egg yolks are very high in biotin. Eggs must be fed as a whole to be nutritionally balanced.
Fatty fish such as salmon and herring are rich in omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3 fatty acids help to keep your dog’s coat shiny and healthy. They can also help ease the pain of dogs who suffer from skin problems. The FDA does not recognize omega-3 fatty acids as essential nutrients for canines, but veterinary literature shows they contain anti-inflammatory properties, which can reduce your pal's itchiness and improve the quality of his coat in just a few weeks. Try feeding your buddy a bite or two of cooked salmon with his food. Many dogs enjoy fish served this way, but if your pal is not among them, look for dog foods with fish listed as a main ingredient.
Omega-6 fatty acids moisturize your buddy’s skin from the inside out, leaving his coat soft and shiny. Oils such as olive oil and flaxseed oil are some of the most common sources of omega-6 fatty acids, but you can sprinkle a bit of ground flaxseed on your buddy’s dinner to provide him with a good amount of coat-strengthening essential fatty acids. Flaxseed oil is a common ingredient in many dog foods, so check the label before you rush out and buy a bottle for Fido.
Widely known as edamame or the protein of choice for many vegetarians, soybeans contain a high amount of omega-6 fatty acids. Cooked soybeans make a good, coat-softening, occasional treat for your buddy, but don’t just offer up a huge bowl of soybeans. Soy is a fairly common allergen for canines. It's best to start with a quality dog food that has soy listed as a main ingredient.
There's no need to "put the lime in the coconut and drink them both together" for coconut to help make your buddy's coat shine, advocates say. Coconut oil contains a variety of fatty acids. A variety of health benefits are claimed in addition to improving the shine of the coat.
- petMD: The Incredible, Edible Egg: Nutritional or Deadly for Pets?
- Dogs Naturally Magazine: Feeding Your Dog Raw Eggs – Good or Bad?
- petMD: Fats and Oils: Good for Your Dog’s Health?
- petMD: Nutrients and Ingredients that Promote Healthy Skin and a Glossy Coat
- I Love Dogs: Soybean Meal and Dog Food
- Dogs Naturally Magazine: The Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
- Doctor Deva: Growing a Glowing Glorious Coat
- Pet Diets: Diet Types
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Interpreting Pet Food Labels -- Part 2: Special Use Foods
Christina Stephens is a writer from Portland, Ore. whose main areas of focus are pets and animals, travel and literature. A veterinary assistant, she taught English in South Korea and holds a BA in English with cum laude honors from Portland State University.