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The 4 Best Foods to Give a Dog for a Shiny Coat and Healthy Skin

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

Balanced raw foods will provide your dog with the nutrients for a shiny coat.

Balanced raw foods will provide your dog with the nutrients for a shiny coat.

Best Dog Foods for a Healthy Coat and Skin

Almost everyone that has a dog is concerned about the quality of his coat. A shiny coat just looks good, and dogs with a good coat look healthy. Shiny coats are a sign of good nutrition, proper maintenance, and even tell us that the dog is healthy inside.

I have never seen a dog with a chronic disease walk into the clinic with a shiny coat. They may have a genetic disease or an injury and still have a good coat—their internal organs, however, will be healthy. Dogs can get sick in a lot of different ways, but if you can work on this one area, your dog will thank you for it.

So, how do you go about making sure that your dog has the healthiest coat?

Four Foods That Will Give Your Dog a Shiny Coat and Healthy Skin

  1. Raw foods
  2. Fish or fish oil
  3. Coconut oil
  4. Eggs

1. Feed Your Dog Raw Food

The best way to make sure that your dog has a great coat is by making sure your dog has everything he needs in his diet. No, I am not talking about junk food that has been labeled “complete” by some company (or even worse, by some government agency that is concerned about the best interests of the dog food makers.)

“Guaranteed” means that the food was evaluated for the nutrients at some time. It does not mean that the nutrients are in the food after it has been on the shelf, and it does not mean that the nutrients are always biologically available.

All dry foods have cereals to help the kibble hold its form. Cheap kibbles have even higher levels of fillers like corn, soy, and wheat.

Raw food, being fresh, also does not have rancid fats. The only way fats can be kept from becoming rancid in those dog foods on the shelf is by adding preservatives. If you do not want to subject your dog to these types of chemicals, you should be feeding raw food.

If you want to make sure that your dog has what he needs, feed him the way nature intended. Give your dog a fresh, raw diet that contains adequate protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals.

Your dog will have an excellent, shiny coat because he will be in excellent health.

2. Feed Fresh Fish or Supplements With Fish Oil (Omega-3 Fatty Acids)

If there are certain foods that you are not able to get for your dog´s raw diet or you choose to feed him junk food that is not good for him, your dog will need additional omega fatty acids.

Do not count on processed foods to provide what you need. Dog food companies are in the business to make a profit, and if they can substitute a cheap source of fatty acids in their food (like sunflower oil) they can stick a label on their food that says, “fatty acids added.”

If you want to give your dogs the healthiest coat, give him fresh fish in his diet. No one is really sure how much fish to add at this point. A fresh sardine, a piece of your salmon, or maybe even a can of tuna once a week is probably enough.

It will take six weeks to two months before your dog´s coat improves.

If you have no access to fresh fish or feel that it is too much trouble, add fish oil. Companies like Grizzly sell salmon oil that is high in Omega-3 fish oils. Follow the dosage recommendations on the Grizzly bottle. It may be a little high, but it is not so high that it will cause negative side effects like vomiting. The only side effect may be fish breath.

3. Feed Coconuts or Supplement With Coconut Oil

Most foods are balanced and have enough vegetable oils and Omega-6 fatty acids. There is no reason to waste money buying Omega-6 fatty acid supplements.

It may be a good idea to give your dog coconut oil, however. Coconut oil will provide any Omega-6 fatty acids that your dog is deficient in, and will also provide extra vitamins and antioxidants that will improve his coat.

I split one fresh coconut each day for my dogs. If you do not have fresh coconut available and are giving this as a liquid, add about a teaspoon on the food.

4. Feed Your Dog Eggs for a Shiny Coat

This dietary supplement has been recommended by dog breeders for a long time.

If your dog's food is deficient in protein, adding eggs will help correct that balance and give your dog a healthy coat. If your dog is eating raw food or a high-quality dry diet, this should not be necessary.

I only use eggs as a supplement when my hens are producing so many that I have extra. My dog´s coat would probably be fine without egg, but in reasonable amounts, it does not hurt.

Other Ways to Give a Dog a Shiny Coat and Healthy Skin

  • Use coconut oil to moisturize your dog´s skin prior to his bath, and you should brush him every day. Besides causing the old hair to fall out, brushing also allows the oils in the skin to be passed over the dog´s coat.
  • You can also bathe your pet about once a month, and use a vitamin E moisturizing solution on the skin after the bath.
  • If your dog is already on a good diet but has recently developed a dry coat, take him in for an examination and lab work at your local vet. Some parasites will cause dry skin, but he may also have a more serious problem that will need to be taken care of.

Additional Reading

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

Question: Is milk good for dogs?

Answer: Milk is a fine protein supplement but eggs are a lot better choice because some dogs are lactose intolerant, especially as they become older. When you give milk the dog can develop loose stools and diarrhea so it should be avoided.


Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on November 09, 2017:

mr russo--try the suggestions in the article

mr Frank russo on November 04, 2017:

My dog has a dry coat and is very dull what oil can i use or what ever there is on the market

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 24, 2013:

K2 sounds like he has the best of both worlds. Yes, I give my dogs kibble occasionally too, and they just gobble it up.

I wonder if the vomiting and eggs was really cause and effect, or it just happened to get better at the same time you stopped.

I doubt it matters. With your feeding regimen, I seriously doubt he even needs the extra protein and vitamins.

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on August 24, 2013:

Awesome article Dr. Mark!

I also liked comments left by your readers, especially that left by Bob Bamberg.

I feed my boy Orijen 6 pack fish kibble and a raw frozen boneless chicken breast to try his teeth on every day. My wife was feeding him two scrambled eggs every afternoon, although I thought he didn't need it, but he was gobbling them up as mid-day snack and my wife lovingly continued with the practice. However, with the onset of summers, he started vomiting those eggs out 2 hours after eating them and his stool also got loose a bit. We have stopped since then and now everything is in order.

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 21, 2013:

Hi Mary besides the skin issues, you should be concerned about your Min Pins oral health. Small breeds are prone to periodontal disease, and switching to a raw diet is the best way to control that. There is a book called "Work Wonders--Feed Your Dog Raw Meaty Bones" by Tom Lonsdale, a vet from Australia. You should look into it.If you do not want to buy it you can dl it on torrent.

I really don't think a chicken leg once a week will be enough, but it would be a good start.

Thanks for reading. I enjoyed your polliwog hub--brought back memories of my first pet.

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 21, 2013:

Thirdly,I agree that making up a balanced raw diet is harder than just ripping open a bag of dog food. Most worthwhile things in life take a little effort.

Thanks for that last comment. One of my German neighbors,who walks his dog 2-3 times a day on the beach, said "Our dogs really won the lottery"!

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 21, 2013:

Okay, I tried to fix that comment but I am having big problems here. "Do premium foods keep my dog alive longer" gives results of the only study available, one done in Europe.

Secondly, even if dogs do not care about fresh (I think they do), there are a lot of things that dog food manufacturers do not know. Look at all the changes in the human diet recommendations, and most agree that a daily multivitamin is not enough. That is why people eat fresh salads, vegetable and fruit smoothies,and bowls of fruit with anitoxidants.

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 21, 2013:

Hi Bob your comments are always interesting! I wanted to reply yesterday but our electricity grid was down for over 16 hours. So much for life on the beach.

Firstly, there is no evidence that premium foods keep dogs alive longer. That misinformation is passed by a lot of pet food manufacturers. They could study this is they wanted to,but I think they are afraid that the results would show that their foods are not keeping dogs alive longer.Read "Do premium foos keep my dog aliveloe" for details on the only sutduy doeonein htarea.

Mary Craig from New York on August 21, 2013:

I give my dog fish oil every day. He still has skin issues (not sure he really had mange but may be allergies) would a chicken leg/thigh once a week help?

I always find your hubs so interesting and informative. You give us such good info.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Bob Bamberg on August 20, 2013:

Yeah, as I was reading that first part, I'm like, "Doesn't he remember anything I taught him? :)

We'll always be in disagreement about the quality of kibble. Today's holistic and grain-free pet foods are better than you give them credit for. Tapioca, not cereal, is used as a binder in the better ones, and fats are preserved with mixed tocopherals ( naturally occurring compounds related to vitamin E).

I have no problem with raw, but the concept of complete and balanced tends to get corrupted by pet owners who aren't consistent and who frequently make inappropriate substitutions.

If owners had your training and skill set, their dogs would be safe on the regimen you follow. But, after dealing with pet owners for a period that spans three decades, I can assure you that almost all of them take a simplistic view of canine nutrition, and get lulled into a false sense of security because of the claims made by raw advocates. Those same claims are also made by people who feed Ol' Roy. Perception is reality in many cases.

I don't believe a dog would ever miss having fresh food. To them, food is strictly utilitarian and, as opportunists, are glad to take the simple meal that they don't have to chase down, avoid it's kick, bites and scratches, and ultimately kill.

To us, food is an art form and the focal point of most cultures. We exert considerable effort to make it look, smell and taste good...we plan days in advance for meals, and when company comes we break out the food. It's hard for us, the civilized, to understand that mealtime is merely a necessary aspect of survival.

And, different cultures take different views. Here in America, 98% of our 77 million dogs are on commercial pet foods and our dogs are living longer than ever before.

While a share of the credit goes to advances in veterinary medicine, the diet is the prime factor. The veterinarian can restore compromised health, but the diet essentially dictates.

When you talk about the benefits of raw, I'm glad that you always reinforce that the dog needs all of the nutrients essential for good health. In my experience, though, pet owners tend to think of "complete and balanced" as an advertising cliché.

Most who do home-cooked meals for their dog think it's alright to give a variety of foods as long as they add a Pet Tab every day.

Having said all that (sorry) the fact remains that if there's such a thing as reincarnation, I'd still like to come back as DrMark's dog.

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 19, 2013:

Honestly, I would go with the salmon oil in the morning, and a can of tuna once a week with their raw food. You really should look into it and stop feeding your dogs kibble. JustAskSusan has a hub on how she feeds her Newfoundlands, and there are plenty of websites and books that explain the advantages. Look into it---there is more work involved but it is great for the dogs.

wetnosedogs from Alabama on August 19, 2013:


I am giving the wetnoses salmon oil. I feed them twice a day, one feeding with the salmon oil. another feeding with a topping of can food on their dry food. It is real hard here to get the canned fish food, I think so many people like it for their dogs. So now I'm thinking, once a week, give them a topping of the tuna. How does that sound?

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 19, 2013:

There are a lot of people on the fence about the raw eggs, since if you gave a lot the avidin could lead to vitamin deficiency. In moderation, though, they are fine, and if your dogs are like mine they really enjoy them.

I still think dogs do fine without them. Good thing your dogs like the fish oil!

Elizabeth Parker from Las Vegas, NV on August 19, 2013:

I started giving my dog fish oil about a year ago, and luckily they love it and yes, their coat is beautiful! Thanks for posting this information and glad to know that eggs are good for them too. I always was on the fence about feeding them eggs. Good to know!

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 19, 2013:

Hi LongTimeMother I guess we have to give them dogs credit for knowing what is good some of the times. But the taste? Yech.

Thanks Victoria. Where I live fresh tuna is a lot cheaper than canned (the same thing goes for canned fruit like pineapple) so I give the dogs fresh each week when I am fixing it for me. Gizmo will probably love it. (No guarantees, of course. Dogs are all different--my dog Ajej would eat dirt before she would touch a carrot. I wonder how she would do with a nice plate of brussel sprouts?)

wetnosedogs, the oil will just supply omega-6 fatty acids, so if you want the benefit of the fish you would have to give the tuna. Aren´t you giving the salmon oil? I would too if I could get it here I live.

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 19, 2013:

Hi Bob, I agree with that "canary in a coal mine" comment. If a dog has rough and dry coat something is going on, somewhere.

I was actually thinking about you and dry dog food sales as I was writing the first section on raw food. Even if the food is 100% complete (which I doubt), can you imagine how horrible it would be to never eat fresh food? I still give my dogs dry once in a while (all of us like an occasional Big Mac,right?) but they really love eating fresh.

The pinch of flax seed is good for adding Omega 6 fatty acids, but I think the coconut or coconut oil is more usful. No evidence here, but...

I really did not flee from HP, but I have noticed that every year Ramadan is a little longer (or at least it feels that way). We fast during the day (including no water) and this year it really took a lot out of me. I wonder if it is sacriligeous to say "Thank God it is over"?

wetnosedogs from Alabama on August 19, 2013:

I didn't realize dogs could eat tuna. Tuna or the oil from the can?

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on August 19, 2013:

Another great hub, Dr. Mark! I'm still working on my dog by giving him fish oil every day in one meal, plus coconut oil in another. I think I may start feeding him real fish and tuna, too. Thanks!

LongTimeMother from Australia on August 19, 2013:

My dogs used to steal the occasional egg until I raised the laying boxes. Now I'm thinking I should lower them again. Perhaps the dogs were self medicating. :)

Bob Bamberg on August 19, 2013:

Welcome back, Doc...good to see you again. Good hub, glad you noted the importance of the condition of the coat.

The way it was explained to me...perhaps you can validate or debunk that the coat is like the canary in the coal mine; an indicator that something could be wrong health-wise. If the skin and coat aren't in good condition it raises questions in the vet's mind that the dog can't answer, so s/he must run tests to get those answers. Good skin and coat = fewer questions and tests, resulting in lower vet bills.

I also read that a pinch of flax seed added to the food, weekly or so, provides Omega 6 and 3 fatty acids. Pretty vague dosage. Good idea or bad idea? Great to have you back in the community!