Many factors influence the overall health of your dog’s skin and coat: His diet and grooming schedule, the presence of parasites and seasonal changes can all play a role. Whether your dog is prone to skin issues or you want to ensure your pup’s health for years to come, you’ll need to keep a few key things in mind.
Schedule Regular Veterinary Checkups
Regular veterinary checkups will ensure that your dog is disease- and parasite-free. Flea-bite allergy and external parasites, such as mange, are primary causes of hair loss and skin problems.
In addition to scheduling checkups, check your dog’s hair and skin at least once a week for signs of fleas (flea dirt or bites), mange or other skin conditions, and hair loss.
Feed Your Dog a Balanced, Healthy Diet
If your dog’s skin seems thick or scaly or lacks elasticity, or if you notice hair loss, these signs might indicate a nutritional deficiency. Check with your veterinarian, and try feeding him a premium food. It will usually take between six and eight weeks after a diet change to see results. If your pet continues to scratch and chew his skin, consult a veterinarian.
When looking for a dog food that will promote good skin and coat health, keep the following in mind:
Bring on the Protein
What's the best thing you can do for your dog’s skin and coat health? Feed a high-quality food packed with protein, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Adult MiniChunks. Dogs are best fed as carnivores: They need protein and thrive on diets rich in animal-based protein sources. Additionally, their hair is actually 95% protein! Although coat growth varies by breed, the combined growth of all the hair can add up to 100 feet per day in some dogs. This means that nearly 30% of the animal’s daily protein requirement is used just for coat growth during some seasons.
Choose Quality Food
Premium pet foods are carefully formulated to be complete and balanced, which means the food includes all of the nutrients your pet needs. Ingredients in premium foods are highly digestible so your dog's body uses the nutrients efficiently. Less costly foods might contain lower-quality proteins. Though a bag of premium food may cost a bit more than other brands, you might be able to feed less, which minimizes the cost difference.
Follow a Regular Grooming Schedule
It’s easy to spot a healthy-looking dog: He has a gleam in his eye, a bounce in his step and a glossy, healthy coat. That glow is a reflection of your dog’s overall health and a good gauge of what’s going on inside and outside.
Regular grooming helps take care of the “outside” by removing loose hair, dirt and mats, and distributing skin oils. Grooming lets you check your pet closely, catching any skin problems early. Plus, your dog will love the attention!
As dogs age, their skin might become more sensitive. Select a mild dog shampoo for your older dog. Shampoos made from coconut or palm oils are the mildest. Unusual or “doggy” odors can signal disease, so if odors persist, contact your veterinarian. Do not use human shampoos because they are often too harsh for a dog’s skin.
When bathing your dog, be sure to rinse him thoroughly. Residue left on the skin can be irritating. You might want to follow the shampoo with a hair conditioner to control static electricity and add extra body or sheen.
During the summer, pay close attention to your dog’s skin and coat. Many dogs shed a winter coat and others face flea problems, so it’s a good time to evaluate your dog’s skin and coat condition to nip any problems in the bud.
Attention to your dog's coat and skin from the inside out will produce a healthy, lively dog that is a joy to look at — and a pleasure to live with — every day!
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Switching your dog to a new food takes some planning. Because dogs are creatures of habit, they tend to prefer their current food to a new food. Like us, they become accustomed to a food and might not be thrilled about a new routine. These useful dog-feeding tips will help you keep your dog satisfied.
4 Tips to Successfully Transition Your Dog to a New Food
1. Introduce the new food gradually.
When easing your dog into a change in diet, think “slow and steady.” Start by mixing 25% new food with 75% current food. Slowly change the proportions over the next three days or so by gradually increasing the new food and lessening the amount of the current food. Here’s a sample feeding schedule:
- Day 1: 25% new food, 75% current food
- Day 2: 50% new food, 50% current food
- Day 3: 75% new food, 25% current food
At the end of this weaning process, you should be feeding 100% of the new food. Your dog may want to eat only the old food, or not eat at all. Don’t worry — a healthy dog can miss meals for a day or two with no ill effects.
2. Watch your body language.
Bringing a new food into your home, pouring it into your dog’s bowl and declaring that he should eat it might cause your dog to go on a hunger strike. This is not the time to show who’s boss. It’s better to introduce the new food by using a pleasant tone of voice and gently encouraging him to try the new food.
3. Don't give in to demands.
Persistence is key! For the first two days of the food transition, don’t give your dog treats or table scraps. Dogs train us as much as we train them. Giving in to their demands only reinforces refusal behavior and makes it more difficult to make a nutritious dietary change.
4. Be patient when switching from wet food to dry food.
Switching diets may be more challenging when changing from a moist food to a dry food. If your dog continues to resist eating dry food, mix in a little warm water. You might even want to put the moistened food in the microwave for a few seconds. If you mix the food with water, be sure to throw away the uneaten portion after 20 minutes to prevent spoilage. The same rule applies for canned and pouch food. After the dog has become accustomed to the moistened food, you can wean him onto completely dry food. To do this, follow the same mixing instructions outlined above.
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