Caring for your dog’s coat is a vital part of keeping her fit and healthy. Dirt harbours bacteria that can enter the dog’s system through nicks and scratches in the skin. And fleas, mites and ticks love to make their home in a dog’s coat.
Insect bites are the main way that parasite inections enter a dog’s blood stream. So keeping your pet’s coat clean and well-brushed is one of the best ways to prevent parasite infections.
But the condition of your dog’s coat can also be a symptom of a health issue that needs diagnosing by a vet. Discover the common causes for a dog’s coat to look or smell bad, and how to keep your dog’s coat clean and healthy:
How often dogs need a bath
You should be bathing your dog with a special dog-shampoo about every 2 – 3 months. However, if a dog gets muddy or has been swimming, they need a bath to remove dirt and bacteria.
Owners can usually tell when their dog needs bathing, by the smell of the dog’s coat. A healthy, clean dog’s coat shouldn’t have an unpleasant smell. So if you start to notice a bad smell coming from your pet’s coat, that’s the time to schedule a bath.
Use an anti-flea dog shampoo containing an insecticide that’s safe for dogs. Don’t use any soap or shampoo that’s for human use, as they contain toxins that can damage your dog’s health.
Other reasons for a smelly dog’s coat
If your dog’s coat is clean but the dog still smells, this can be a sign of a skin problem. It could be a fungal infection or a skin disease, so see your veterinary for correct diagnosis and treatment plan. And it could also be the result of an oral infection from bad teeth, transferred to the dog’s coat in saliva when grooming.
Patchy hair loss in dogs
Thin or balding patches on your dog’s coat can be a sign of a health problem, ranging from allergic dermatitis through parasite infection to some type of disease. Consult your vet to get a diagnosis of unusual changes in the dog’s skin texture or color.
Dog dandruff symptoms
White skin cells shed in large quantities often build-up in the dog’s coat. This is usually dandruff, which happens from several different causes in dogs. Your vet will advise you how to manage dandruff with special dog anti-dandruff shampoos and skin treatments.
Sebum is produced by the skin pores to lubricate skin and hair and aid in the cleaning process. Sometimes a dog’s coat has a visible, waxy build-up of sebum, which is transparent at first, but darker when it gets dirty. Excess sebum production could indicate a hormonal problem, or be a sign of illness.
Caring for double-coated dogs
Double-coated dogs have two types of fur on their body. The soft under-coat is a layer of insulation keeping the dog warm in winter and cool in summer. The top-coat is a layer of strong, coarse hairs that protect the dog from hot sunshine, and insect bites.
Some owners think that a double-coated dog will be cooler and cleaner in hot weather if their coat is shaved off. But this is a big mistake that just strips the dog of its natural heat and cold protection. Dogs don’t sweat to cool down like humans, because their cooling system is panting. So removing the dog’s protective coat puts them in danger of heat-stroke and leaves the skin vulnerable to insect bites that lead to parasite infections.
Vitamins & minerals for dogs
Getting the correct balance of foods containing vitamins, minerals and fatty acids is important to maintaining your dog’s protective coat in full working order. This list of nutritional essentials will ensure your dog stays in good condition, with a healthy coat:
- Biotin – helps the body make use of protein
- Copper – helps maintain skin’s protein and tissue
- Zinc – also helps the body metabolise protein and fat
- A – promotes skin growth and repairs damaged skin
- C – strengthens the immune system and heals wounds
- E – protects cells from oxidant damage and air pollution
- Riboflavin – (also known as vitamin B2) helps metabolise protein and fat
Linoleic acid is vital for maintaining a dog’s coat and skin in top condition. Dogs that don’t get enough linoleic acid can suffer:-
- Unusual quantity of hair loss
- Dull coat and greasy skin
- Frequent infections
Read the ingredients on packets to ensure all of these substances are in the foods you choose. Many dog-owners have followed the trend for home-cooked dog-food. And veterinaries recommend home-prepared dog-food as the best way to ensure dogs gets all the nutrition they need.