We can’t help but notice when a dog has a shiny, healthy coat. The aesthetic quality of a glossy coat not only signifies his beauty but his health as well. Choosing the proper shampoo is a significant component in the appearance and health of your buddy’s coat.
Choosing the Right Shampoo
It’s important to read the entire label when choosing a shampoo for your dog. Some shampoos tout themselves as “all natural,” but upon further inspection contain synthetic ingredients. Artificial fragrances and colors are some of the main culprits of a dull coat. Look for shampoos scented with natural, essential oils, such as lavender, chamomile or eucalyptus, if you enjoy fragranced shampoo. Remember, no matter what shampoo you choose, most dogs only need a bath every month or so. More frequent bathing and you run the risk of dehydrating your dog’s skin and coat. Grooming wipes are a great alternative for “spot cleaning” and won’t dry out your dog’s coat.
The first place to look when deciding if a shampoo will make your dog’s coat shine like a diamond is the pH level. Shampoos for humans have a much higher pH making them more acidic. That’s because human skin is more on the acidic side. Canine skin, however, has a neutral pH. This means if the shampoo you use on your buddy has too high of a pH level, the increased acidity will irritate his skin. Using a shampoo without the proper pH level can disrupt your dog’s skin health, and cause dryness and dandruff, leading to, you guessed it, a dull coat. Many dog shampoos list the pH level right on the label (it should be near 7) or state that the shampoo is specifically pH-balanced for dogs.
Most dog shampoos contain some sort of conditioning agent. Natural skin moisturizers, such as shea butter, almond oil, jojoba oil, vitamin E and aloe vera, will keep your buddy’s skin and coat properly hydrated. However, the key with moisturizers isn't to douse your dog with them, but rather use them as a complement to help maintain his natural skin oils.
Finishing sprays are designed to leave your dog shiny and tangle-free. Spray them lightly on your buddy while he’s still damp and comb through thoroughly. Many of these sprays contain silicone, which works to make him shiny by sealing the hair shaft. You can find a variety of finishing sprays for different coat types in the grooming section of your local pet store.
Don’t Forget Diet
All the shine-enhancing shampoos in the world won’t give your dog a flawless coat unless he’s receiving proper nutrition. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are imperative for a glossy, healthy coat. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids moisturize your dog’s skin and coat from the inside out. Look for dog food with at least 1 (preferably 2) of the following ingredients: flaxseed, flaxseed oil, soybeans, soybean oil, olive oil or types of fish oil to ensure your dog receives the proper amount of EFAs.
Christina Stephens is a writer from Portland, Ore. whose main areas of focus are pets and animals, travel and literature. A veterinary assistant, she taught English in South Korea and holds a BA in English with cum laude honors from Portland State University.