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What Your Dog’s Coat Says About Their Health

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Your dog’s coat tells a story. Dull or shiny, dry or oily, hair loss or itching—all paint a picture of how healthy your dog is. Nutritional status, disease state, and allergies are all reflected in the quality of your dog’s skin and coat. Look for the following clues that something is off.

#1. Skin conditions/Smell

Skin irritation or infections, such as those caused by allergies, wounds or scrapes, parasites, or a yeast infection can all cause an unpleasant odour. Allergies, fungus, hormonal imbalances, parasites, and inflammation can all lead to an overgrowth of yeast or bacteria on the skin and cause a less-than-pleasant smell. Excessive scratching and licking due to discomfort can cause a secondary bacterial infection.

Call your vet if you notice any redness, swelling, oozing, or bleeding from the skin, or if your dog is excessively licking or biting a particular area. Remember that skin conditions become more difficult to treat the longer you wait.

#2. Dull Coat

A lacklustre coat is often a sign of poor nutrition. If your dog has a dull coat, look at their diet. Important nutrients may be missing. To get a sense of the quality of the food, you need to look at the list of ingredients. A high-quality dog food will have meat listed within the first three ingredients, say veterinary nutritionists Elizabeth Pask and Laura Scott. However, they caution, since ingredients are listed in order based on weight, having fresh chicken as your #1 ingredient does not necessarily mean that the product contains a lot of chicken, as fresh chicken contains a lot of water, which bumps up the weight of that ingredient. On the other hand, if chicken meal is the first ingredient listed, you know that there is far more chicken in the food, because meal is light in weight. Pro tip: supplement with an Omega-3-rich fish oil.

#3. Excessive Shedding

Certain breeds, like Huskies, blow their coat seasonally. If your dog is shedding excessively outside their normal, it could be the result of stress, poor nutrition, allergies, or a medical problem. Symptoms of Cushing’s disease, for example, include hair loss, thin or fragile skin, and recurrent skin infections. Thyroid disorders can also cause itchiness and hair loss.

#4. Matted Fur

Mats can occur when your dog is rubbing or scratching at their fur, often due to allergies or another irritation. Make sure to brush or cut out mats as they can cause skin issues as the fur mats increasingly closer to the skin as time passes.

#5. Bald Spots

Bald spots in your dog’s fur can be due to an allergic reaction to food or pollen. If you notice your dog licking or biting at the area of concern, parasites, such as fleas or mites, may be the culprit.

#6. Oily coat or seborrhea

Any dog can develop oily or greasy coats or skin, though it’s important to remember that some breeds have naturally oilier coats. If your dog’s coat is oilier than their normal, seborrhea, which causes excessive oil and/or dandruff may be the cause. Conditions that can cause seborrhea include allergies, hormonal disorders, natural oiliness, parasites, or primary seborrhea. Commit to regular bathing—look for a shampoo with ingredients like natural citrus or baking soda. Regular grooming encourages good circulation and distributes the natural, beneficial oils that keep your dog’s coat healthy.

If your dog has skin or coat issues, a visit to the vet can help determine and address underlying causes.



A Better Brush

The CONAIRPROPET large Slicker Brush features firm pins to help remove mats, tangles, and undercoat all while protecting the topcoat! Bonus: the non-slip handle features memory foam gel and is designed for ultimate control and comfort. ($13, or



Omegas for Better Skin & Coat

Packed with Omega-3 and antioxidants, PureForm Omega3 for dogs improves skin and coat health, as well as brain function, and is a great source of dietary fibre. It’s made with organic, milled flax linseed and contains zero artificial ingredients, preservatives, or fillers. ($30,


A Diet for Skin & Coat Health

Diet has a huge impact on your dog’s coat health. Go! Solutions’ Skin and Coat Care Salmon Recipe with Grains is a nutrient-packed kibble made with ingredients like de-boned salmon, flaxseed, apples, carrots, and cranberries. Omega fatty acids support healthy, hydrated skin. (from $16 a bag,



A Soothing Shampoo

Does your dog have sensitive, itchy, irritated skin? The ZYMOX Advanced Enzymatic Shampoo is formulated to soothe, hydrate, and offer relief with gentle, hypoallergenic, and pH balanced ingredients. Paraben and detergent-free, this shampoo offers a concentrated combination of natural enzymes and hydrating Vitamin D3 and oat extract. ($20,

This article originally appeared in the award-winning Modern Dog magazine. Subscribe today!

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