by Lisa M. Gerry
Maintaining your dog's fur requires more than the occasional brush. Learn the top steps to keep it in top condition
Anyone with a furry friend can tell you that keeping up with a dog's shedding is a full-time job. And some dogs can grow 100 feet of fur per day -- that's adding up all the new strands covering the entire animal end-to-end, including the fluff between your dog's toes -- so it's easy to see why taking care of your dog's coat can sometimes seem overwhelming. But all that fluff's got real substance! You may not know it, but your dog's fur:
- Is eight times warmer than wool
- Is fire-resistant
- Wards off dirt
- Repels static
- Protects from parasites
So how do you keep your dog's coat healthy and handsome?
Use these tips and tricks from the experts to keep Fido's coat glowing -- and growing.
A Healthy Diet
Like humans, dogs are only as healthy as what they eat, says Michael Weiss, a veterinarian at All Creatures Veterinary Care Center in Sewell, N.J. Two things to look for in your dog's food:
If your dog lacks this vital nutrient, its body will dedicate protein to muscle first, leaving its fur and skin dry and dull. Make sure your dog's food is rich in protein.
Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids
These essential building blocks keep your dog's coat healthy, thick and lustrous. They may also help reduce itching, dandruff and allergy-related skin problems. On the ingredients panel, look for fish oil, fish meal or flax, all excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Exercise not only keeps your dog slim, it may also help keep her fur in top condition. Weiss says regular exercise benefits your dog's overall health -- and a healthy dog is more likely to have a healthy, shiny coat.
The fact is you can't keep your dog from shedding. But with a few key products and techniques, you can easily take great care of your dog's coat at home to keep it looking its best:
Brush at least once a week
In order to keep your dog's mane manageable, give the fur one good brush each week with a de-shedding brush to get out the undercoat, says New York City-based groomer Lisa Caputo from the dog service company Biscuits and Bath. Part the hair and brush from the skin out to avoid matting, moisture and heat build-up, which can cause yeast and bacteria. For an even slicker look, give your dog a quick brush every day.
Bathe with gentle shampoos and conditioners
If your dog has sensitive skin, try a hypoallergenic or oatmeal shampoo. Caputo recommends washing your pooch every four weeks.
If you notice your dog has consistently itchy, uncomfortable skin or is shedding more than usual, your best bet is to take him to a veterinarian. "There isn't a one-size-fits-all solution, and each dog is different," says Weiss. "It could be something as small as a food allergy to a more serious problem, like ringworm."