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Essentials for a Shiny Coat in Dogs

By: Dr. Amy Wolff

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A bright shiny coat is a sign of vigor and good health. We want our pets to look and feel their best and grooming helps achieve this goal. All dogs benefit from regular grooming. Here are a few tips to help make your pet look his very best.

Beauty is Only Skin Deep

No matter what breed of dog you have, coat type, or color, the first essential for good skin and coat appearance is proper nutrition. The proper balance of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals is crucial. Even if they seem to be more economical, generic brand or store label pet foods are often not made from the quality ingredients your pet needs to stay healthy. Talk to your veterinarian about pet food recommendations; everyone has his favorites and there are many quality brands. If you are formulating your own home made diet, be sure you have the proper balance of nutrients. Conversely, if your dog is on a balanced diet, overloading with vitamin and mineral supplements may be harmful.

Clean Inside and Out

Keeping your pet's coat at its best means keeping a regular check on internal parasites. Worms can sap essential nutrients from your dog, which would cause the hair coat to lose its luster and quality, not to mention causing other serious health problems. Your veterinarian will recommend a fecal exam during wellness exams to check for parasites. Watch for fleas and ticks too. These creatures can make your pet feel miserable and itchy and cause severe scratching, which could damage the coat.

Combs and Brushes

Regular grooming is essential no matter what type of coat your pet has. Combs are designed to remove mats and detangle long hair. Brushes remove dead surface hair and dander, and distribute oil to give a finished look. Rakes and combs tackle coats that have become matted. Always comb and brush your pet before bathing. Wet hair is harder to work with if it is tangled or matted. If your pet is matted to the skin, see your groomer or veterinarian about having the coat shaved. Then start with regular grooming as the new fur grows in.

Shampoos and Conditioners

There is a shampoo and conditioner for every type of hair coat for dogs and cats. Many pets need regular bathing. Others need it periodically. If your pet has an ongoing skin condition, see your veterinarian. Use a product that is formulated for use on pets. Products manufactured for people are too harsh for your pet's delicate skin. They differ in pH, and most are designed to strip your hair and skin of oil. Oftentimes, this results in a dry, flaky coat for your pet.

There are color shampoos designed to enhance the sheen and color of white, black and brown dogs and really makes them shine. Detanglers and conditioners are great for medium to long coated dogs to make combing easier. The key to a successful bath is to make sure you rinse your pet thoroughly. Even when it seems like the product is rinsed out, rinse again a few more times. Soap residue will dull the coat and leave the skin feeling itchy.

Finishing Sprays

Finishing sprays are designed for application when your pet is still wet that make the coat slick and shiny. Most of these sprays contain silicone and function to seal the hair shaft, make it lay down flat and make combing and brushing easier between baths. Use it sparingly; a little goes a long way.

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