Quality food helps your pooch stay in top shape not only on in the inside but on the outside as well, and some help to improve or maintain dog's shiny coat. In this article we'll cover a variety of human foods and supplements that promote a shiny and healthy coat in dogs, as well as specific vitamins, minerals, and nutrients responsible for this.
These nutrient dense nuts contain all that make up the entire vitamin E family, specifically tocopherols and tocotrienols, which are nutrients that are huge helpers in promoting healthy skin and hair. In addition to vitamin E, almonds contain copper, manganese, bioflavonoids, B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc. They even have a bit of Omega-3 fatty acids, known for promoting a shiny and healthy coat in dogs.
Note that you can only feed a very small amount of almonds to your dog, and only as an occasional treat.
The abundance of vitamin E in this dog-friendly alternative to chocolate supports skin and coat health in dogs. Carob also has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that positively affects dogs' coats, and is full of vitamins and minerals, such as iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, silica, vitamins A, B1, B2, niacin, phosphorus, and protein.
While carob is considered to be a healthier and dog-safe alternative to chocolate because it doesn’t have any caffeine or theobromine, it does contain a lot of natural sugars, so feed it to your pup only in moderation. Carob also does not contain oxalic acid, so it will not impede calcium absorption in a dog.
These seeds are rich in Omega-3 essential fatty acids and promote a dog’s skin and coat health while also helping to fight off and clear up skin inflammation. They're considered a superfood that contains a plethora of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, including: B vitamins, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, protein, zinc, and alphalinolenic acid (ALA), which is a plant-based form of Omega-3.
- RECIPE: Homemade Dog Food for Itchy Skin
A famous human food that can be fed to dogs in its oil form (vets recommend using unrefined, virgin, cold-pressed oil) or raw, given to dogs in the form of organic and unsweetened coconut chips, or fresh coconut if you have access to it. Remember that it must be organic and unsweetened, and always start by giving your pet very small amounts (1/8 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight of the dog is a common recommendation).
Coconut is great for a dog’s skin and coat health because it contains at least 90% saturated fats, and most of that comes from what is known as Medium-Chain Triglycerides (or MCTs). MCTs are commonly known as the “good” fats, and have many beneficial effects.
One particularly helpful MCT found in coconut oil is lauric acid, shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties that may help fight off infections and viruses, both externally and internally, by reducing bacterial growth, irritation, and inflammation within the body, and on the dog’s skin.
These antioxidant rich berries have long been used medicinally to treat a wide variety of issues, including skin wounds and eczema. Cranberries are high in flavonoids, antioxidant proanthocyanidins, anthocyanins, and ellagic acid.
Anthocyanins, in particular, are the flavonoid that studies have shown to be the strongest and most powerful flavonoid, out of 150 different flavonoids that have been tested, making this antioxidant more powerful than vitamin E. Anthocyanins are also known to have anti-inflammatory properties and have been shown to reduce the effects of allergic reactions in dog's skin.
- RECIPE: Homemade Dog Food with Eggs
Eggs are nutrient-rich and often referred to as one of the very best foods for a healthy coat and skin in dogs. They're full of vitamin A, which repairs skin and cell damage, and keeps a dog’s coat and skin healthy and shining; biotin in egg yoks treats skin conditions and allergic reactions (and biotin deficiency can cause many skin conditions and hairloss in dogs).
B vitamins and lutein in eggs repair skin tissue and keeps it hydrated, and zinc generally promotes healthy, shiny looking coat in dogs. Organic eggs produced by free-range chickens are the best kind due to optimal ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6.
7. Fresh Fish or Fish Oil
- RECIPE: Homemade Wet Dog Food
Fresh fish or a can of high-quality tuna or wild salmon will provide your pet with enough essential fatty acids. Alternatively, you can use fish oil supplements and sprinkle/pour them over your dog’s food, or hide a capsule into a dog-safe treat. Salmon is especially high in omega-3s.
Always carefully follow the dosage guidelines on the bottle if using supplements. Alternatives to fish oil are flax seed and sunflower oils, which have also been proven to be effective in improving a dog’s skin and coat conditions in this study from Veterinary Dermatology (PDF).
It may not sound (or smell) appetizing to most of us, but dogs love it. Even better, liver is full of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that will boost the health and shine of a dog’s skin and coat, including iron, potassium, zinc, copper, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D and E, pantothenic acid, folic acid, and biotin. Make sure to feed your dog high-quality liver, from grass-fed animals only.
- RECIPE: Oatmeal Dog Food Meal
This powerful and easy to digest food is well-known for its ability to soak up toxins within the body. One of the ways to promote healthy skin and shiny coat in dogs is by supporting the dog’s gastrointestinal functions and removing coat-dulling toxins from their body. Additionally, oats are high in vitamins and minerals that promote and foster coat health, such as phosphorous, potassium, B vitamins, iron, calcium, and magnesium.
10. Raw Food Diet
- RECIPE: Planet Paws Raw Dog Food Meal
Liver isn't the only organ meat good for dogs' coat. While it remains debated, there are plenty of vets that agree with a raw diet because it's natural, fresh and contains no artificial fillers. Good fats in particular are essential for shiny coat, and no fat can be stored in shelved-foods without the use of preservatives. Recent studies have also found benefits in feeding dogs raw diet (when done right), some of which directly affect dogs' coat and skin.
11. Sweet Potatoes
- RECIPE: Sweet Potato Dog Food Meal
Not only does high content of vitamin C in sweet potatoes speed up the healing process of a dog’s skin and promote the production of collagen, but sweet potatoes also contain high-levels of other vitamins and minerals, such as beta-carotene, vitamin E and vitamin A, iron, calcium, potassium, folate, thiamine, and copper, all of which are necessary for a healthy coat.
12. Wild Salmon
- RECIPE: Salmon and Broccoli Dog Food
Wild salmon contains tons of protein and “good fats” with omega-3s as well as selenium, a mineral that is critical to the proper functioning of a dog’s immune system and has been shown in studies to aid in the prevention of cancer. Research revealed that a bioactive peptide in salmon called calcitonin is crucial to skin and hair health because of its ability to regulate and stabilize the balance of collagen and minerals in bone and surrounding tissue.
At the Tail's End
As with anything in life, it's important to remember that too much of a good thing can be bad. This applies to having too much “shiny-coat boosting” nutrients, vitamins, and minerals coming from human foods. Generally, when your pup is fed a balanced diet from either commercial foods or accurately made homemade recipes, the dog is getting everything they need.
That being said, feeding any of these human foods in moderation, as an occasional treat or adding a little into your pet's dish will not hurt a dog as long as you account for calories.
To notice positive effects, some dogs may need more of these human foods than others, depending on the breed and size of the dog, their current daily diet, health condition and current state of your dog's skin and coat. Always speak with your veterinarian first before adjusting your pup's diet specifically seeking for results, such as coat/skin improvement.