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Keeping your dog's coat healthy

An important part of maintaining a healthy dog is ensuring he or she has a healthy skin and coat. The amount of care your dog needs will vary, but all dogs need a good grooming regimen.

Grooming options to be considered:

  • Check with private pet groomers, your veterinarian or even your local pet specialty store.
  • Reputable groomers are well trained and familiar with the needs of your particular breed of dog. They’ll also clean your dog’s ears and cut his nails.
  • You may choose to groom your dog, or do part of the work yourself with the occasional trip to the groomer. This is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with your dog. Most dogs love the attention they get with a good brushing.

Healthy coat's appearance: A healthy coat will be soft and relatively smooth even on short or wired hair breeds. The coat should be shiny but not greasy, and it should not have a strong odor.

Unhealthy coat's appearance: A dog with an unhealthy coat will have dry and brittle hair with lots of loose hair in the coat. The coat itself may also be greasy or have a dusty appearance and include bald spots and an unpleasant oily smell.

Brushing is the most important part of dog grooming:

  • Long-haired breeds — such as Irish setters, border collies, shelties and Pomeranians — need to be brushed twice a week.
  • Dogs prone to shedding, or with thick undercoats, should be brushed once a week.
  • Even short-haired breeds benefit from regular grooming to remove loose hair.

Brushing requires the appropriate tools. There are as many different types of brushes as there are types of coats on a dog. Ideally, you need two brushes: one with widely spaced teeth for the coat's outer layer and a finer-spaced brush for combing and brushing around the face. You can also ask your veterinarian or groomer for a recommendation.

Dogs are content without a bath. "Doggy smell" is mostly caused by a buildup of bacteria and oil on a dog’s coat. Bathing will eliminate this build up.

Be careful with "over-bathing." This can lead to dry skin and irritation. Unless your dog is particularly dirty, don’t bathe more than once a month. Also, don’t use shampoo designed for people. Baby shampoo is safe and won’t irritate the eyes, but the detergents are so mild that they won’t remove heavy grime or grease. Ideally, purchase cleaning products formulated for your dog. Your veterinarian or local pet specialty store sells them.

Nutrition is foremost. One of the most important aspects of maintaining a healthy coat is nutrition. Hair is mostly made of protein. The better your dog’s food, the better your dog’s coat. Foods that are rich in essential fatty acids are particularly good for your dog’s coat. If your dog is showing signs of trouble with his coat or skin, his food may be the reason. Hill's has a complete line of products for maintaining healthy skin and coat. Ask your veterinarian about Hill’s® Science Diet® and Prescription Diet® pet foods.

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