Tycho wasn’t anything special, just a cute little Shetland Sheepdog with a huge heart and a general love of life. He came into my life at the age of eight months old and hadn’t seen much other than the backyard of his prior home. I brought him home and began feeding him the same things that my other Sheltie Nova ate. Little did I know I was in for a rollercoaster ride of trials and tribulations with food.
I soon found that Tycho had many food sensitivities. Anything with chicken would send his skin into a fit of itching. He would get secondary skin infections from all the yeast that accumulated on his skin. Once past that, I could never seem to get control over his dry, flaky, itchy skin.
Coat and skin health is an excellent indication of overall health in your canine companions, and often it is a rocky road to discovering what exactly makes them shine like a new penny. Nutrition is often the most likely culprit to a lackluster coat and a strong odor. Micronutrient deficiencies and poor nutrition is the most common problem that leads to dull coats. Let’s take some of the guesswork out of feeding appropriate foods, providing adequate care, and offer an insight into what can help remedy that dry, flaky, itchy skin!
What Causes Dull Coat?
There are many things that lead to a dull coat.
- Hypothyroidism is one of the more prevalent underlying health issues that can lead to dull coats and is an issue on the rise for dogs.
- Cushing’s syndrome presents itself with a dry coat.
- Diabetes is another medical cause of dry, dull coat.
- Parasites can cause many different kinds of coat problems, dry coat included.
- Frequent bathing with harsh shampoos can strip the coat of natural oils and lead to dry and brittle coats that are far from shiny and healthy.
How Can I Help?
Talk to Your Vet If your dog has a dull coat, you should first start by seeing your vet to run blood and fecal tests to rule out medical issues before attempting any supplementation or changes to diet. You may find that there is a bigger reasoning to your dog's coat problems! Either way, it is much better to be safe than sorry.
Eliminate Carbs and Grains! Carbohydrates and grains are common culprits for dogs with allergies. You may find that simply eliminating them from your dog's diet can completely solve your problem!
Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids Most commercial dog foods are lacking in Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which is a key ingredient to a lustrous coat and healthy skin. Studies show that dogs lacking in these fatty acids have skin more prone to irritants and infections, while dogs supplemented with them had a better skin barrier. Surprisingly enough, deficiencies in Omega 3s also have a direct connection in aggressive dogs! Some foods that contain omegas are anchovies, sardines, salmon, and hemp oil. Other sources of omega-3s include fish oil, flaxseed or phytoplankton. Make sure to look for an eco-friendly, sustainable source of fish oil. The fish used in most high-grade products are wild caught and feed off small plankton. Smaller fish have the lowest levels of mercury and are the safest to eat. Flaxseeds, ground or in oil form, are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids - they go rancid quickly, so it’s best if whole seeds are ground right before feeding. Phytoplankton is tiny, microscopic plants that are the base of the food chain in the ocean - you can find phytoplankton, kelp or spirulina in powder form.
Vitamin E and zinc supplementation is another option as this is known to increase the bioavailability of Omega 3’s. Vitamins C and B (pyridoxine, B12, biotin, riboflavin, d-pantothenic acid, and thiamine) function as protective antioxidants, working against skin-damaging free radicals, and are also known to work in conjunction with each other to improve collagen and skin immune function.
When bathing your dog, be sure to use shampoos free of harsh fragrances and chemicals. Oatmeal based shampoos tend to be less harsh and can help to condition the skin. If you don’t already use a conditioner, now is a great time to start! If your dog isn’t very dirty, but you would like to get rid of some sort of funk, you can thoroughly rinse your dog using water and a small bit of apple cider vinegar (being cautious of course of the sensitive eyes!). As a general rule of thumb, you should only bathe your dog when dirty, at max once every two weeks. This will help preserve the body’s natural oils and keep the coat nice and shiny. Furthermore, making sure to brush your dog daily will stimulate the natural oils in the coat and help encourage new, healthy coat growth!
It took a lot of researching, experimenting, and moral support to help Tycho recover from his sensitive skin. I talked to many people, read many articles, and devoured books. We found that he was allergic to many protein sources and was very sensitive to different types of soaps. Today, he is thriving with clear skin, and a jet black, a lustrous coat that would make Fabio jealous! I hope that these tips help you on your path to a shiny, healthy coat!
Sources: https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/dog-nutrition-for-a-healthy-coat#3 https://www.merckvetmanual.com/endocrine-system/the-thyroid-gland/hypothyroidism https://iheartdogs.com/is-your-dogs-coat-dry-dull-try-this-little-trick/https://www.healthspan.co.uk/advice/how-to-tell-when-your-dogs-dull-coat-may-be-a-sign-of-a-bigger-problemhttps://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/fish-oil-for-dogs-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2015/06/11/omega-3-fatty-acids-benefits.aspxhttps://www.researchgate.net/publication/272784328Theroleofdietaryomega-3andomega-6essentialfattyacidsinthenutritionofdogsandcatsA_review