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10 Ways to Improve Your Dog’s Skin and Coat: Supplements, Hygiene & More | Pupford

July 12th, 2023

Filed under Health + Wellness

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People reach out to us with questions about how to improve their dogs’ skin and coats all the time. Here are some of the most common questions we get:

“My dog scratches and licks a lot. How can I make my dog’s skin healthier?”

“How can I get my dog’s coat shiny and healthy?”

“How can I give my pet a shinier coat?”

If you’ve ever asked one of these questions, or something similar, this article is for you. Or, if you just love your dog and want them to be their healthiest inside and out, this post is also for you!

And if you’re a dog who wants your coat so shiny and soft that your human can’t help but give you constant pets and rubs, you’ll definitely want them to read this! 😉

Table of Contents

  • Get to know your dog's coat
  • The science behind healthy skin and coat
  • Getting your dog enough Omegas
  • Signs of skin or coat in need
  • How to spot healthy skin and coat
  • 10 ways to improve your dog's skin and coat

*DISCLAIMER: This article is not a replacement for proper vet visits, health care, etc.

Get to Know Your Dog’s Coat

gray dog with curly coat | Pupford

Your dog’s fur is made up of keratin, which is a type of protein. It grows from follicles on the inner layer of the skin, just like human hair.

But what makes it different from your hair is that when it reaches a certain length (as defined by their breed’s genetics), it stops growing and falls out.

You (and your vacuum) know that process as shedding.

Another difference between your dog’s coat and human hair is that there are actually three different types of hair in your dog’s coat: the undercoat, the guard, and the whiskers.

The undercoat sits closest to the skin and is a thick, soft layer of hair that keeps your pup warm.

The guard is a thicker, longer layer that produces oil to protect your dog from the elements.

Whiskers are only found on the face and serve a totally different purpose. Their long length helps dogs sense their surroundings when they can’t see.

If you’ve pet dogs of different breeds, you’ve probably noticed that their coats are different textures, colors, and thicknesses.

Each breed’s genetics defines the combination of hair types and amount of melanin (which controls coat color) based on the surrounding environment it has adapted to.

The Science Behind a Healthy Dog Coat & Skin - All About the Omegas

brown fluffy doing with healthy skin and coat laying on couch | Pupford

Remember, a shiny, soft coat isn’t just nice to have, it’s a key indicator of its health (and often your dog's overall health, too).

Essential fatty acids aid the foundation of your dog’s skin and coat by fortifying proteins and boosting collagen production, making the skin stronger and coats shinier.

Having good essential fatty acid levels means your dog’s skin will retain moisture, protect against the environment, and grow a shinier coat.

The fatty acids that play the biggest role in your dog’s skin and coat are the Omega fatty acids -- Omega-3s, Omega-6s, and Omega-9s.

Here’s what you need to know about each ⤵️


This type of polyunsaturated fat can’t be produced by the body but is important for strengthening the proteins of the skin and fur.

There are three common Omega-3s:

  1. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
  2. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
  3. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)

While Omega-3s have many health benefits, when it comes to your dog’s skin and coat health, you’ll find their anti-inflammatory properties most beneficial.


Like Omega-3s, Omega-6s are also polyunsaturated fats that can’t be produced by the body.

The difference is the chemical makeup -- Omega-6s have six carbons on the omega end of their last double bond, which is how it got its name.

The most common Omega-6s are:

  1. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA)
  2. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
  3. Dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (GLA)

Omega-6s help keep cells within the skin and fur healthy and regenerating quickly.


One of these things is not like the other! Omega-9s are monounsaturated and are produced within the body.

However, it’s still beneficial to consume more than the body makes since there are a number of health benefits.

In terms of your dog’s skin and coat, Omega-9s reduce inflammation and aid in the construction of healthy skin cells and hair follicles.

Getting Your Dog Enough Omegas -- Inside and Out

white dog eating salmon with omegas to improve skin | Pupford

Now that you know how important Omegas are for your dog’s skin and coat health, let’s talk about how you can get them the amount they need.


One of the simplest ways to make sure your dog’s skin and coat are getting everything needed is through diet.

You’ll want to include a variety of foods that are rich in Omegas, including:

You may hear that nuts and seeds are rich in Omegas, and while that’s true, you probably won’t want to include them in your dog’s diet as they can cause digestive distress.


Topical treatment can be just as effective for getting Omegas into your dog’s skin and coat!

After grooming, rub your dog with some coconut oil to get some fatty acids into the follicles, give them an extra boost of moisture, and leave them smelling sweet and delicious.

This should be done sparingly in most cases, and you may want to consult your vet beforehand.

Skin and Coat Supplements

Skin and coat supplements are a great way to give your dog the extra boost of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants they need for optimal health.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of supplements out there that are made with fillers, chemicals, and other junk you wouldn’t want to give to your dog.

When selecting a supplement to improve your dog’s skin and coat, look for the following:

  • Developed by an expert in the field with extensive knowledge of canine nutrition.
  • Contains ingredients rich in Omega fatty acids, like Green-Lipped Mussel.
  • Supports other areas of health like immune support, joint health, and digestive support.

Looking for a supplement for your dog that checks those boxes and then some?

Check out Super Pup... we're biased, but it's pretty h*ckin' special!

Don't Forget About Water

Healthy skin is hydrated skin!

It’s important to make sure your dog gets enough water throughout the day for many health reasons, including keeping their coat shiny and healthy.

It’s even more important to prioritize hydration if your dog eats mainly dry food, as they aren’t getting any water from their food at all.

On the go with your dog a lot but want to make sure they get the water they need?

Keep this collapsible dog bowl in your car, backpack, or suitcase for easy portable hydration.

Related Reading: How Much Water Should My Dog Drink a Day?

Know The Signs Of Unhealthy Dog Coat and Skin

brown dog with unhealthy coat | Pupford

Being well versed in the warning signs of undernourished and unhealthy skin and coats will help you correct the problem before it becomes too severe!

If left untreated, your dog could develop breaks in the skin, infections, or lose their fur.

Here’s what to look out for:

  • Brittle, straw-like texture
  • Dull or faded color
  • Excessive shedding, sparse coat, or balding patches
  • Flakes or red patches
  • Excessive scratching, licking, or biting

On top of the tips we'll give in this article, be sure to consult your vet if you notice these signs in your dog! Diagnosing an unhealthy dog coat early is key!

How to Spot a Healthy Dog Coat and Skin

So how can you tell if your dog’s skin and coat are healthy, or if they need a little extra TLC?

Check out this chart for a quick way to tell 👇

chart of how to know if your dog's skin and coat is health | Pupford

If you’re still not totally sure of your dog’s skin and coat condition, or if you notice excessive red and itchy spots, give your veterinarian a call!

They’ll be able to tell you in detail what’s going on and if it requires medical attention.

10 Ways to Improve Your Dog’s Skin and Coat

short coated dog | Pupford

If there are no medical concerns, and you’re just looking to maximize your dog’s coat health, there are quite a few things you can do.

Here are 10 ways to keep your dog’s coat and skin shiny and healthy 👇

  1. Proper nutrition
  2. Hydration
  3. Regular brushing
  4. Use the right shampoo
  5. Ask questions at the vet
  6. Protect against the sun
  7. Bathe after outdoor adventures
  8. Prevent fleas and ticks
  9. Make a DIY coat treatment
  10. Supplement with Super Pup

Now, let's dive into each one!

1- Proper Nutrition

We talked before about the importance of Omegas for skin and coat health. But do you know how to get your dog to consume more of it?

You’ll want to look for a dog food that is high in Omega 3s, Omega 6s, and Omega 9s -- all of which come from healthy fats.

Or, you can rotate in different foods that are high in Omegas like salmon, vegetable oil, and eggs.

It’s best to consult your vet about how much healthy fat is right for your dog depending on breed, age, and lifestyle.

2- Hydration

Making sure your pup gets enough water is so important for so many areas of health, including their coat.

If your dog eats primarily dry food, it’s even more important because they’re not getting water content from their food.

Make sure your dog always has fresh, clean water in their bowl.

If you’re on the go and aren’t sure if there will be water available for your dog, bring along an extra water bottle and a collapsible dog bowl.

3- Regular Brushing

dog being brushed outside | Pupford

Brushing your dog’s coat between groomings helps spread their natural oils, keeping more of their skin and coat moisturized.

It also helps remove loose fur which prevents matting and promotes blood and air circulation to the follicles.

Plus, it’s a great way to get a few more minutes of quality time with your dog a few times a week!

Want to go more in-depth about grooming?

Check out our article with Quinci, a groomer with 13 years of experience.

4- Use the Right Shampoo

Whether bathtime is at home or at a professional groomer, it’s important to know what’s in your dog’s shampoo.

There are a lot of varieties depending on the texture of the coat, skin dryness, age, and other factors.

There are also shampoo varieties with shine-boosting vitamins, minerals, and proteins -- just make sure they contain natural ingredients.

If you’re unsure of which shampoo is best, ask your vet and they can point you in the right direction.

And as much of a trend as “twinning” with your dog is, you should never use human shampoo on your dog. It could end up irritating their skin and causing more skin and coat issues.

5- Ask Questions At the Vet About Skin and Coat Care

Your dog’s regular checkup should include an inspection of their skin and coat, but don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Your vet will be able to tell you how much Omega your dog should be consuming, what shampoo ingredients to look for, and all things coat care.

6- Protect Against the Sun

dog staying protected from the sun | Pupford

Just like humans, dogs should be protected from the sun’s damaging rays. Too much sun exposure can dry out your dog’s coat and eventually could lead to skin cancer.

When out in the sun with your pup, take all the precautions for them as you would for yourself.

Stay in the shade when possible, use protective clothing, and apply a dog sunscreen every 4-6 hours.

7- Bathe After Outdoor Adventures

A lot of dogs love to swim and will spend all day at the beach or in the pool. While that’s a great activity for your dog, it can damage their coat.

Sand, salt water, and chlorine can all dry out your dog’s coat and skin if overexposed.

Rinsing your dog in freshwater or giving them a bath after being at the beach or in the pool can help prevent damage.

8- Prevent Fleas and Ticks

While this is important for overall health, it’s worth mentioning when it comes to keeping a healthy, shiny coat.

Fleas and ticks = scratching, biting, and infections, which can cause hair loss and damage.

There are a lot of options for preventing fleas and ticks. You’ll want to have your yard treated by a licensed professional with a pet-safe formula for the first line of prevention.

Then, you can discuss the various topical solutions, tablets, and collar options with your vet to decide which one is right for your dog.

9- Make a DIY Coat Treatment

To add a boost of moisture, shine, and softness to your dog’s coat, you can make a DIY treatment. Think: DIY face mask, but for your dog!

There are so many recipes and combinations out there (thank you Pinterest!), but some staple ingredients you’ll want to consider are:

  • Coconut oil
  • Honey
  • Oatmeal
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Aloe Vera

10- Supplement With Super Pup

As we’ve said before when discussing essential fatty acids, a lot of skin and coat health comes from within. If your dog isn’t getting enough from their diet alone, consider adding a supplement.

But be careful! Not all supplements are created equal.

You’ll want to look for one that is packed with Omegas, vitamins, minerals, and other natural ingredients.

We’ve recently introduced our Super Pup supplement, which will help promote overall health as well as keep your dog’s coat super shiny and soft!

Super Pup is formulated by Dr. Greg Sunvold, Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences.

Check it out here!

Recap of Improving Your Dog's Coat and Skin Health

pit type dog with healthy skin and a shiny coat | Pupford

While keeping your dog's skin and coat in tip-top shape starts with their diet, there are many other things you can do to help!

Always brush your dog, use a healthy shampoo, and of course, add a supplement that aids in healthy skin and coat.

Here is a quick recap of all 10 ways to improve your dog's coat and skin health:

  1. Proper nutrition
  2. Hydration
  3. Regular brushing
  4. Use the right shampoo
  5. Ask questions at the vet
  6. Protect against the sun
  7. Bathe after outdoor adventures
  8. Prevent fleas and ticks
  9. Make a DIY coat treatment
  10. Supplement with Super Pup

Let’s see those shiny coats!

Snap a pic of your dog’s furry cuteness and tag us on Instagram (@pupford)!


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