Your Labrador’s fur should be dry to the touch and never excessively oily. While the fur should have small amounts of natural oil to repel dirt and water, an overly oily coat that has a distinctly greasy appearance can be a sign of underlying health problems. Fortunately, you can typically solve the oily skin problem by making small adjustments to your dog’s grooming routine and diet.
Determine the Cause
Seborrhea, a condition caused by overactive sebaceous glands, can cause an oily coat and is common in Labradors. Inspect his skin and look for signs of infected follicles, characterized by redness and inflammation, and scaly patches around the knees, elbows and flanks. Another possible cause is hypothyroidism, which is also common in Labs. Hypothyroidism symptoms include lethargy, puffiness, pimples, dandruff and oily skin. If neither of these conditions appear to be causing the oily skin, the problem is most likely linked to diet.
Use a Medicated Shampoo
Mainstream shampoos contain lanolin and emollients, which can make the fur even more oily. Overuse of such shampoos can also have the opposite effect and strip your Labrador’s coat of the oils that should be there. As a water-going breed, the fur should always have a small amount of oiliness. Use a shampoo that is hypoallergenic, antibacterial and that contains sulfur and salicylic acid. This combination of ingredients will rebalance the fur’s oiliness. Simply replace your dog’s regular shampoo with a medicated one and continue to apply as part of his groom routine.
Visit the Veterinarian
If a medicated shampoo doesn’t help, visit the vet. Help the vet make a swift diagnosis by reporting any accompanying symptoms you’ve observed, such as skin irritation or weight gain. Your vet may recommend an all-natural diet, or an elimination diet if he or she suspects allergies are at play. The vet may also recommend environmental changes, such as refraining from using air-freshener and perfumes in the house, to rule out allergies.
Alter your Labrador’s Diet
Seborrhea is typically made worse by a poor diet, especially if the dog is overweight. Labrador’s are prone to obesity, so ensure that your dog is not overweight. To check, feel his waist. If you can’t feel his ribs pushing against the skin, he has too much fat. Oily skin can be a sign that your dog isn’t receiving sufficient oils through his diet. Start by adding essential oils such as Omega 3 to his regular food. Flax seed and fish oils are rich in Omega 3 and you can simply sprinkle those over your dog’s regular meal. If this doesn’t make a difference, consider switching him to an all-natural, organic diet.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.