How to improve your pet’s skin and coat health

The skin and coat of a pet is often a reflection of the overall health of a dog or cat. Any pet with chronic coat issues should best have a full medical evaluation by a veterinarian to evaluate for any underlying medical problems, as well as primary skin/coat problems, including external parasites, allergic skin disease, hormonal imbalances, as well as secondary yeast or bacterial infections of the skin. Given the role overall health plays in a pet’s skin and coat quality, it is important that animals be on an optimal, species appropriate diet, consisting of low-carb, low-grain and high quality protein.

In my holistic veterinary practice I find that proper and balanced homemade diets provide the best quality nutrients to our pets. There are some excellent resources, including Dr. Pitcairn’s Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, by Richard Pitcairn, DVM, PhD that offer excellent recipes for our pets. If this is not possible, there are many natural commercial diets now available including those from the great companies Wysong, Halo, and Nature’s Variety.

In addition to providing a wholesome diet, it is also important to put dogs and cats on a good quality enzyme product like NaturVet Digestive Enzymes, as well as a good probiotic like FortiFlora or Fast Balance. Given the role of the gut immune system in overall health, I find that such supplements are essential in helping with overall skin and coat health. In addition to these digestive supportive products, I also recommend a good quality essential fatty acid added to meals, such as Be Well, Super Pure Omega 3, or the products from Nordic Naturals. Lecithin is another supplement that can help with nutrient absorption and coat quality in most animals.

Regular grooming and periodic shampoo therapy may help remove dander and contact allergens, as well as help restore the luster to the dry coats.  I find that natural shampoo products like Oatmeal and Aloe Vera shampoo quite effective in helping with coat and skin quality in most animals.