Healthy Skin and Coat: Five DIY Tips

If you live in central Florida like me, you know one fact to be true. There isn’t a real palpable difference between the dead heat of summer and the warmth of fall.

I say the end of summer is when I finally decide to take control of my hair. As a matter of fact, I just had my unruly mane trimmed, colored and de-frizzed, welcoming fall by repairing the results of poor summer maintenance.

Many a dog’s coat is looking harried as well. Chlorine, salt water, sand, fleas and summertime allergies may lead to dry skin, hot spots and general poor coat health. The changing season marks a perfect time for improving the health of your best friend’s coat, and it doesn’t require a trip to the spa.

Here are my top five at-home tips to get your dog’s skin and coat back to looking coiffured (or at least mostly tamed).

  1. Diet - If you are feeding a diet with processed grain and glutens, you might want to consider transitioning to another food. One containing meat proteins (e.g. chicken, turkey, beef or fish), whole grains (e.g. brown rice, barley, oats) and no glutens within the first five ingredients would be great. Oftentimes, simply changing to a more nutritious diet will do wonders for a pet’s coat. Many of my customers have found success with California Natural’s Herring & Sweet Potato formula.
  2. Fish Oil - Adding Omega-3 to your dog’s diet will improve their immune response and decrease inflammation in the body—thus reducing itchiness and fostering healthy coats. Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet Oil is comprised of wild anchovies and sardines, and is a great addition to any pet’s diet (unless of course they are allergic to fish).
  3. Fleas - these pesky insects can wreak havoc on your pet’s skin. If your dog has flea dermatitis, or an allergy to one of the 15 antigens in a flea’s saliva, his reaction will not be pretty. Hair loss, hot spots and flakes can be the result.

    Flea’s are getting smarter and seem to be immune to some readily sold flea products. If you are using a monthly topical and it isn’t working, ask your veterinarian about other options. Also, consider all-natural remedies such as Flea Flicker Tick Kicker by Ark Naturals. Other tips: vacuum and wash pet bedding weekly. Keep your yard free of debris and treat all of your pet’s favorite shady spots.

  4. Shampoo and conditioner - It is important to use a soap and detergent free shampoo on sensitive skin. For dry flaky skin try an oatmeal and aloe based formula, and for skin that is suffering from hot spots I recommend a shampoo with tea tree oil. My favorite? Earthbath’s Tea Tree and Aloe formula. Using all-natural conditioners in between baths can help moisturize the coat as well.
  5. Brush - This simple act is often overlooked by pet owners but is so important. Brushing rids your dog of dead hair and skin cells, and reduces shedding and bacterial build up. Brushing also distributes natural oil along the coat. The human/pet bond is strengthened through brushing as well.

Hopefully, wherever you live, the weather is getting cooler and you can enjoy the outdoors with your fur kid. I look forward to hearing about your fall adventures!

Bark back! How do you keep your pet's coat healthy all year long?