4 Easy Ways to Give Your Pet a Shiny Coat

A soft, shiny coat is not only great for cuddling, it’s also a sign that your pet is healthy from the inside out. As pets age, however, their coats may become dry and lackluster, and you might wonder what you can do to get the sparkle back. The good news is that there are definitely some easy steps you can take to improve the appearance of your four-legged friend’s coat and keep them looking and feeling their best.

Keep in mind, however, that a dull, dry, or thinning coat can also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Be sure to consult your veterinarian if your pal is looking a little rough around the edges.

Here are 4 easy ways to give your pet a shiny coat.

1. Good Nutrition For a Shiny Coat

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The quality of a pet’s coat has a lot to do with good nutrition. Your pet should be eating a high-quality, well-balanced diet rich in proteins and nutrients, including Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids work to promote shine and reduce shedding. Many pet foods contain Omega-3s, but you can also give your pet fish oil supplements. Just be sure to check with your veterinarian before starting your pet on any new diet or supplement.

2. Brush Your Pet’s Coat Frequently

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Brushing your dog every day is best, but if you can’t commit to the daily routine, brushing at least a few times a week should do the trick. Brushing not only removes tangles, prevents the formation of mats, and removes dirt and debris between washings, it also helps to distribute your pet’s natural skin oils over their body, which makes for a smooth and shiny coat.

3. Wash Your Pet, But Not Too Often

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How often a pet needs to be bathed varies from breed to breed. Some pets need monthly washes, while others can go several months without getting a scrub down. Ask your veterinarian or a groomer how often you should be bathing your furry friend, and stick to that schedule (unless of course your pet gets particularly dirty). Just keep in mind that bathing your pet too frequently could strip them of valuable skin oils that are essential for a shiny coat.

When do you bathe your pet, only use a high quality shampoo formulated for cats or dogs, and for extra softening, follow with a soothing conditioner.

4. Protect Your Pet’s Coat

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Fleas, ticks, other parasites, and allergies can irritate your pet’s skin, cause them to scratch, and wreak havoc on their lovely coat. Protect your pet from fleas and ticks with a monthly preventative, and if you ever notice persistent itching or scratching, contact your veterinarian; they may want to test for parasites or allergies.

How do you achieve a shiny coat for your pet? Leave a comment and tell us about it, and to get wholesale prices on flea and tick preventatives, healthy coat supplements, and a wide range of other medications, sign up for PetPlus!

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How to Choose a Dog Shampoo

The shampoo aisle at the pet store is not unlike the shampoo aisle at the drugstore. There are tons of brands to choose from, various formulas, numerous scents, and lots of promises. While it might seem like choosing a shampoo at random is the easiest way to go, the truth is that the shampoo you choose for your dog does matter.

So how can you choose the right dog shampoo for your furry friend?

1. Evaluate Your Dog’s Skin

Healthy fur comes from healthy skin, so the first step in choosing a dog shampoo should be evaluating your pup’s skin. Is their skin normal? Greasy? Dry? Flaky? Itchy? Does it have a funky odor? When it doubt, ask your veterinarian to take a look at your pet’s skin and give you the rundown. This will help you start zeroing in on a good dog shampoo.

RELATED STORY: DIY Dog Dry Skin Treatment (And Handy Medications)

2. Evaluate Your Dog’s Coat

Some dogs have smooth, silky fur. Other dogs have coarse, curly hair. Some dog fur is prone to tangling and mats, while others is greasy to the touch. Feel your dog’s fur, and ask your veterinarian for their opinion. You’ll be one step closer to choosing a dog shampoo.

RELATED STORY: The Causes of Dog and Cat Dandruff

3. Consider Your Options

Once you’ve evaluated your dog’s skin and coat, you can take a look at different shampoo choices for your dog’s particular pampering needs:

If your dog’s skin and coat are normal: Choose a basic cleansing shampoo, like Perfect Coat’s Tearless Dog Shampoo. A basic cleansing shampoo will clean the coat, strengthen it, and leave your dog smelling fresh.

If your dog’s skin or coat is dry/itchy: Choose a soothing shampoo, like Veterinary Formula Soothing & Deodorizing Oatmeal Shampoo. A soothing shampoo will clean and moisturize the skin and coat without stripping skin oils. Most soothing shampoos contain emollients that increase moisture in the skin, as well as soothing ingredients such as oatmeal, Vitamin E, aloe vera, and fatty acids. If your dog’s dryness or itching is severe, your veterinarian may recommend a medicated shampoo such as Epi-Soothe Oatmeal Shampoo.

If your dog’s skin or coat is greasy/oily: Choose a shampoo specially formulated to remove excess sebum and grease from the skin and coat, like Ark Naturals Neem Protect Shampoo. In severe cases, your veterinarian may recommend a medicated shampoo such as Pyoben, which removes secretions from the coat and flushes grease from the hair particles.

If your dog’s coat gets tangled: Use a 2-in-1 shampoo and condition, like Fresh n’ Clean’s 2-in-1 Oatmeal Conditioning Shampoo, or a soothing shampoo followed by a conditioner, like Richard’s Organics Nourishing Conditioner. Just remember that matted fur is not easy to detangle even after a conditioner is used, so brush your dog’s fur before bathing them and cut out problem mats.

What shampoo do you use on your dog, and why? Leave a comment and let us know. And to save 20% on dog shampoo, sign up for PetPlus! PetPlus is a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more. Learn more at PetPlus.com.

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What to Do if Your Friend Is Allergic to Your Pet

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Here’s a conundrum: You’ve been planning to have your new friend over for a  game night for weeks, and just found out that he is allergic to your pet. Do you have to call off the gathering? Unless your friend’s allergies are quite severe, most likely, your home does not have to become entirely off-limits. With a bit of advance preparation, you can help your friend ward off sniffles, watery eyes, and other symptoms, so that you can both focus on games, conversation, and fun.

RELATED STORY: How to Live With Cat Allergies … And Your Cat!

Try an OTC Solution

Remind your friend that Fido or Fluffy is one of your favorite roommates before this visit. This way, he can take an over-the-counter medication, such as Zyrtec, Benadryl, or Claritin, before coming over. It’s a great idea to keep some of these over-the-counter solutions available in your home, in case folks forget to dose in advance. But remind friends, family, and allergy sufferers that when it comes to allergy medications, taking them before exposure to the allergen is best.

Use Your HEPA

If you have a HEPA air purifier, let it run before your visitors arrive, and continue to keep it on while they are at your home as well. Vacuum your home thoroughly, preferably with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter. Using a HEPA air purifier will help to remove dander from the air within your home.

Go Dander-Free

Speaking of dander: When it comes to pet allergies, it’s the dander that’s the causes the biggest problem. Pet dander is made up of the tiny flakes of skin that your cat or dog sheds. According to the American Lung Association, the allergens from dander remain in the air even longer than other common allergy-triggers, such as dust mites. The more dander you can remove from your home, the better experience your allergic guests will have.

As mentioned above, using a HEPA air filter can be helpful. You’ll also want to vacuum thoroughly, and if possible, wash cushions and other fabric around the home — focus on tackling items that your pet is in frequent contact with, and that your guest is also likely to touch. For instance, if your cat tends to perch on a cushion on your couch, think about washing the cushion’s cover or maybe just removing it from the living room.

RELATED STORY: What You Should Know About Pet Dander

Bathe Your Pet

Before your friend comes over, it could be a good idea to give your cat or dog a bath. This helps with the dander problem. Give your pet a thorough brushing as well.

RELATED STORY: How to Wash Your Cat

Avoid Contact

If it’s possible, keep your pet in a separate room or area of your home. Of course, a visit from your friend shouldn’t feel like a punishment for your cat or dog, so make sure that wherever they’re kept, your pet is comfortable. Finally, your friend probably already knows, but remind your buddy not to cuddle or hug your cat or dog. Affection and contact increase the chances of allergies starting.

Of course, as much as you scrub and aim to remove your pet’s dander, you can’t make your friend allergy-free. It’s possible that even with all of these strategies, your friend may still experience some symptoms — hopefully, your pal will be spared a full-blown attack, and you’ll both be able to enjoy your time together.

Tell us how you handle guests with pet allergies in the comments. And, if you’re looking for a discount on pet shampoo and other commonly used pet-care supplies, consider being a part of PetPlus, a new benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more. 

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How to Clean Your Dog Between Baths

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Taking the dog to the groomer can be expensive and grooming your dog at home can be a time-consuming ordeal. However, your dog will be happier and healthier with regular baths and brushings, and your house will smell better, too! But life happens, and sometimes you have to put off your dog’s bath for a week or two. So how can you clean your dog and keep them smelling fresh between baths?

Brush, Even if You Can’t Bathe

Depending on what kind of dog you have, brushing is usually a lot less time-consuming than bathing, especially if you keep up with it regularly. Dogs with thick or curly hair (like Poodles) may need to be brushed more often to avoid mats and tangles, but it’s worth it. Brushing removes dirt and debris that can contribute to a foul stench.

RELATED STORY: What Are Some Low Maintenance Dogs?

Doggy Wipes

Doggy wipes work to freshen your dog up between baths. They are gentle, non-toxic, moisturizing, and usually smell lovely (just like the ones for babies!) Use doggy wipes to clean your pup’s paws and paw pads, their rear end, and even their entire body.

Dry Shampoo

If you want to clean, deodorize, and refresh your dog’s coat between baths, try a dry shampoo. Dry shampoos are very easy to use; they are powder formulas that can either be sprinkled or sprayed onto your dog, rubbed in, then brushed through. They instantly absorb excess oil and grease, break down dirt and grime, and leave your dog’s coat looking soft and shiny and smelling great.

Dog Perfume or Cologne

Dog perfumes are a popular choice for stylish pups or pups who aren’t smelling so swell between baths. They are designed to be light, aromatic, long-lasting, and safe. Some companies even make perfumes that mimic popular men’s and women’s designer scents. If your dog seems even the slightest bit irritated by the perfume’s smell, discontinue use, and never use human perfumes or colognes on a dog.

RELATED STORY: My Dog’s Breath Smells! What Should I Do?

Clean Your Dog’s Bed!

If you do everything you can to keep your dog clean between baths, it will all go out the window if their bed is still dirty and smelly. Wash your dog’s bed and blankets regularly to remove dirt and body oils. If you have the option, choose a bed that allows you to wash both the cover and the cushioning. Your dog will thank you by curling up for a sweet-smelling slumber.

How do you keep your dog clean between baths? Leave a comment and let us know, and sign up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.

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Tips for Bathing a Pet Who Hates Water

 

Some pets just love water, but let’s be honest here: it’s a rare pet who is really excited about getting into the bathtub. What do you do when bathing your pet has turned into a wrestling match worthy of a reality TV crew? Here are some tips.

1. Stick to a professional.

Let’s just go ahead and get the “last resort” out of the way. When all is lost and you’re tired of getting scratched up and your pet is tired of getting traumatized, then take your pet to a groomer. They know how to deal with difficult pets and how to be very efficient and calming during the grooming process so that your pet won’t have to suffer too much, even if your wallet begs to differ.

2. DIY, but not in your house.

Take your dog to a DIY dogwash. The anchor leash will help keep your dog’s head still to eliminate struggle. Better yet, between no scuffling, the raised tubs, and the hand-held spray, this should entirely eliminate back strain while you give your pet a very thorough washing.

3. Use a hand shower at home.

Many DIY instructions about bathing a pet include filling buckets of water to pour over your pet to wet and rinse them, but we’ve had the experience of a dog who was much more amenable to being bathed at home once the pet’s parent started using a hand shower for wetting and rinsing the pet’s fur.

4. Use dry shampoo between washings.

If you want to extend the time between trauma – I mean bathing – then try using this Dry Shampoo For Dogs and Cats to make dirt removal gentle and simple without water, and while preserving essential oils in the fur.

You can also try Bio-Groom Waterless Bath No Rinse Shampoo, which contains anti-microbial tea tree oil. Along with cleaning your pet’s fur, this spray can also detangle fur and relieve itching.

Do you have any tips or tales about bathing your pet? Let us know in the comments, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.

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Planning a Trip? 3 Tips to Keep the Car Hair-Free

Oh, the joys of a warm weather road trip with your dog! That excited head hanging out the window, that wind-ruffled fur…oh, and hair coating the upholstery of the car’s back seat.

For your next trip with your pup, try these preventative tips to help keep the back seat hair-free.

1. Give a Thorough Brushing

First, thoroughly brush and groom your dog before she bounds into the car. Less loose hair on her means you’re less likely to have tumbleweeds of dog hair rolling through the car’s backseat. (Or, check out our list of essential products that’ll help cut down on shedding.)

RELATED STORY: A Guide to Buying a Dog Brush

2. Protect Your Upholstery

Next, cover the upholstery where the dog will be sitting; if your dog tends to check out the views from both windows, cover the entire back area of the car. You can use sheets, towels, or blankets to do this — just make sure to only use linens that you don’t care about. Backseat hammocks and covers are also available for purchase. Smaller dogs can be kept in a crate, which of course will reduce contact between fur and the upholstery.

RELATED STORY: Best Dogs to Travel With

3. Damage Control

Finally, after your trip, take a peek into the back seat to assess the conditions. If necessary, run the vacuum cleaner and lint brush around, removing any hair. As with more chores, doing this regularly is easier than waiting until for several months, when lots of hair is bound to have accumulated.

How do you keep your car (or furniture!) pet-hair free? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus to save on your pet’s medications, supplies, boarding, and more. 

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At-Home Pet Grooming Tricks

My Standard Poodle, Wade, is a wonderful guy. He’s an expert cuddler, a social butterfly who loves all people and animals, and he’s always making my husband and I laugh with his funny expressions and mischievous antics; he’s only 1 and ½ years-old, so he still has a lot of puppy spunk!

He’s a really great dog. However, he’s also a big dog — 56 lbs. at his last check-up — and having a large dog comes with its costs, one of which is expensive grooming. Now, full disclosure: I live in Los Angeles, where prices may be higher because it is a big city. Nevertheless, the first time we took Wade to a professional groomer, they charged $70 for the works. As he’s grown and gained weight, that price has gone up, and a full groom now costs $100. Ouch.

Poodles need to be brushed and groomed regularly to keep their thick, curly, ever-growing hair clean and free of mats. Knowing that we were looking at spending $100 every 6 weeks or so, we decided to learn how to groom at home.

At first it was challenging; especially with a puppy, we dealt with a lot of wiggling and escape attempts.


Over time, however, Wade got more comfortable with being groomed, and we’ve learned some tricks along the way that make the whole process a lot easier. So without further adieu, here are 5 of our favorite at home grooming tricks and tips.

1. Brush First, and Use The Right Kind of Brush

Trying to brush out wet, tangled hair is no fun. The best thing that you can do for your dog’s coat is brush it out regularly (once a week or more, depending on what kind of hair they have), and you should also give your pal a thorough once over with a brush before bathing/grooming to loosen mats, tangles, and check for fleas, ticksfoxtails, burrs, or other foreign matter.

The kind of brush that you use is important, and will depend on your dog’s hair.

  • Slicker brushes have thin, stainless steel pins that work to remove mats and tangles. They are perfect for dogs with medium-to-long or curly-haired breeds (like Wade!)
  • Pin brushes look like brushes that we humans use. Pin brushes are less effective at working through tangles than Slicker brushes, so they are better suited to dogs with naturally smooth hair (like Yorkshire Terriers) or any dog that is brushed regularly and thus doesn’t have mats or tangles. They can also be used as a finishing brush.
  • Bristle Brushes can help to reduce shedding and can be used on all dog breeds, depending on the length and spacing of the bristles. For example, if you have a dog with a long coat, the bristles should be long and widely spaced.

2. Use A Detachable Shower Head

Once we figured this one out, we couldn’t believe that it hadn’t occurred to us before. Before using a detachable shower head, we would use a pitcher or Tupperware bowl to wet Wade down. Wade has extremely thick hair, so fully wetting his body and washing off soap required multiple, tiring scoops of water. We decided to pick up a detachable shower head for $18 at a home improvement store, and washing Wade has never been easier. Just be sure that you get one with enough length to reach your pup — ours has an 8 foot hose.

3. Get A Better Lather and Save Money By Diluting Soap

If you try to squeeze soap directly onto your dog, you’ll end up using a lot more than you need, and soap can be expensive (unless you make your own at home!) Instead, put a bit of soap into a squeeze bottle or container (like a Tupperware), fill it up with water, mix it around, and squirt or pour the mixture over your dog. You’ll get more mileage out of your soap and a much better lather, too.

4. Desensitize Your Dog To Clippers


Ah yes, clippers. Wade was NOT too pleased the first time he heard and felt clippers. Clippers are often noisy, and the sensation is unnatural — like a strange vibration. Before using clippers to groom your dog, get them familiar with the sounds and feelings so they won’t be afraid. Turn the clippers on and give your dog a treat. Touch the body of the clipper gently to different parts of your dog (without actually removing any hair) and offer a treat. Do this once a day leading up to grooming. One note: be sure to introduce the clippers to your dog’s legs at some point; the legs are the most sensitive parts of many dogs (this is certainly the case for Wade).

5. Use Corn Starch For A Nicked Toenail


Even with lots of practice and the best intentions, chances are you will draw blood from time to time when trimming your pet’s nails. You can stop the bleeding with styptic pads or powder purchased from the pet store, or you can do like we do, and use corn starch. Corn starch quickly stops bleeding by causing a clot at the site of the wound. Simply put some corn starch into a bowl and dip your dog’s nicked nail into it. Let the corn starch sit on the nail for a while before washing it off. To avoid a starchy mess while you wait, put a sock over your dog’s foot.

So those are some of our tips! What are yours? Leave a comment below and let us know! In addition, if you’re into saving money by grooming at home, you might also be interested in PetPlus. With PetPlus, you can save on your pet’s medications, boarding, supplies, and more.

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