A dog with a soft, silky coat that has a mirror-shine finish is a pleasure to behold. Subconsciously, that fabulous fur tells us the dog is healthy and fit, which is something to smile about. But some dogs aren't that fortunate and have dull, dry coats that sheds a lot of dander. This has implications not only for the dog and their health, but also because dog dander is a common trigger for human allergies.
Actually, this is a good point to stop and ask, "What is dog dander?"
There's no strict definition of what dander is. But it's widely held to mean the skin cells and hair shed by the dog. All dogs shed dander, but some more than others, and an extreme example is the dog with bad dandruff.
From the allergy-prone owner to the proud pet parent, we all want our dogs to look their best. So here are our suggestions to defeat dander and greet a glossy coat instead.
Nourish the Skin from Within
Skin in good condition produces less dander. Healthy skin is achieved from the inside out, with a balanced diet and supplements.
A Healthy Diet: Feed a life stage diet containing quality ingredients. Study the pet food label and look for a named meat (such as beef or chicken) as the first ingredient. Ideally, choose a food with meat or meat meal as the top three dry matter ingredients. Also, look for good quality carbohydrates such as vegetables, oats, or rice. Where possible, steer clear of foods high in cheap fillers such as corn meal or soy.
Vitamins and Antioxidants: B vitamins are crucial to skin metabolism and cell turnover, while Vitamins C and E are powerful antioxidants that repair damage at a cellular level. Make sure your dog receives good levels of vitamins by feeding fresh fruit and veg, a good diet, or supplements.
Fatty Acids: Omega 3 & 6 and linoleic acid nourish the germ skin cells at the deepest level, which improves the condition of the skin as a whole.
Zinc: This mineral plays a role in preventing excess moisture loss from skins cells. Dogs deficient in zinc will have dull dry coats and flaky, dandruff-prone skin.
Bathing and Beautifying
Coat care and hygiene also has an impact on dander production. A well cared for coat is lower in dander.
Daily Grooming: Brushing helps to massage the skin and improve the circulation to the hair follicles. In turn, this conditions the skin by spreading natural oils, which reduces shedding. Physical brushing, especially with a de-shedding tool, captures shed hair so the sofa doesn't have to.
Better Bathing: Use the wrong shampoo and your dog's coat is stripped of natural oils and dries out like painted wood left in the sun. However, use a gentle moisturizing shampoo containing oatmeal, and this improves skin moisture levels and resilience while washing away dander.
Coat Conditioners: If your dog's coat is especially dry, consider using a leave-in conditioning spray. These contain humectants or oils that draw moisture into the hair and skin, to help keep it soft, supple, and dander-free.
Parasites cause skin inflammation and irritation, which ultimately results in increased dander.
Cheyletiella: This mite gets top billing because of its nickname, "Walking Dandruff". If you dog has large flakes of white dander and is very itchy, it's possible the flakes are actually Cheyletiella mites. Get the dog checked by the vet who can supply a spray or spot on that kills these critters.
General Parasite control: From fleas to lice, mange mites to red mites, be sure to use good preventative products licensed to keep your dog parasite-free. Remember, any skin that is irritated by parasite bites is going to dip in condition and produce more dander.
Dealing with the Dander Dilemma
It's amazing isn't it, how a simple thing like dander has so many implications. When a pet parent takes a pride in their pet's appearance and deals with dander, they are also promoting good health.
And finally, if you start a new regime with your dog's skin, don't expect instant results. It takes around 28 days for the germ skin cells at the deepest level to mature and reach the surface. Therefore, it takes this amount of time before you see the new, healthier side to your pet and levels of dander fall.