San Diego Mobile Pet Grooming Blog
The Condition of Your Dog's Fur Is One of the Best Indicators of Their Health
Until they actually develop the dog communicator like on the movie UP, we have to figure out other clues to what our pets are trying to tell us. When it comes to dog health, the condition of their fur is one of the best indicators of their health, and sometimes one of the first indicators of a problem.
We All Love a Healthy Shiny Coat
Strong shiny fur makes a dog beautiful, but it also tells a lot about the health of the dog. The skin is the largest organ and reacts to any small change. That is what makes it a great indicator of problems. Let your instincts will guide you - a shiny coat like the one pictured at left indicates good health.
Dull or Patchy Fur
When fur becomes dull, it may mean your dog is not getting proper nutrition. Make sure your dog is getting a balanced diet. Talk to your vet about your pet's nutritional needs and find out if a change in diet or the addition of supplements might help.
Patchy fur can indicate several problems, such as fleas, digestive distress, allergies, or illness. Check your dog's coat for unwanted guests. If you do not see fleas, it may be time for a visit to the vet to rule out any other problems.
Ok, so no dog really smells great all the time, but if you get your dog groomed regularly it should smell fresh between washings, with gradually increasing "doggy-ness" as time goes by. If the fur has a strong bad smell shortly after washing, it may be an indicator of a bacterial infection, fungus, fleas, or other health issues. If the dog otherwise seems clean, this may warrant a trip to the vet rather than a complaint to your groomer!
All dogs go through times of shedding more, then less than average. The lab pictured above is really just experiencing normal, perhaps seasonal shedding. If the shedding becomes excessive it's time to consider the cause. A dog might shed excessively because of stress, a change in surroundings, diet, seasons, or even lactation. Sometimes the problem can be internal and indicate hormonal problems or other health issues, and sometimes it's as simple as a natural response to the change in seasons. The coat condition shown at left might look severe, but it's actually normal for this type of dog. The picture shows a phenomenon known as "blowing coat" which happens once or sometimes twice a year for certain breeds. It's not indicative of a health problem, it's just their coat changing in response to the seasons. It's sort of like a snake shedding it's skin, but maybe more accurately, it's like your dog is taking off their winter coat and putting on a summer jacket! Even though we don't have cold winter weather here in San Diego, sometimes the breeds that have fur meant for cold weather will "change their coat" even though it isn't strictly necessary. Good luck telling them to stop it! Lots of brushing and a deshedding session will get your pet through it and back to normal again.
One of the best ways to use your dog's coat as an indicator of health is to keep them well groomed on a regular basis so you have a baseline of what healthy skin and coat looks like.
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