What nutrients are essential to ensure a healthy, shiny coat for my dog or cat?

Q&A with Dr. Erika Sullivan, Because Animal’s Chief Veterinary Officer.

How can I help my pet get a shinier coat? And what could be the cause of a dull coat in a dog or cat?

The hair coat in an animal is a reflection of the internal health of that individual and we can definitely see changes in the hair coat when there is an underlying illness.

If an animal is on a balanced diet and is receiving nutritious food but is still having issues with their hair you should go to your vet and make sure they don’t have an underlying thyroid problem or adrenal gland problem, or a hormone-related problem if they aren’t desexed or surgically sterilized.

Parasites are another common internal problem related to dull coats, especially in young animals. Parasites are the most common telltale sign if the coat is very dull, as parasites essentially steal nutrients from your pet's food, depriving your pet of the nourishment they need.

But aside from internal related causes, if the animal is perfectly healthy on the inside, then the next obvious factor is diet. Diet in terms of ingredients, digestion and whether the animal can assimilate those ingredients.

Ensuring an optimal level and balance of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids in your pets’ food is sufficient and of good quality is something to look for on the label. And then discuss with your veterinarian supplementing with these [omegas 3 and 6] if the quality in the type of food isn't being utilized by the pet in an optimal manner.

I also recommend flaxseed oil and vitamins such a vitamin E and D, the latter being good for hair and hair loss, again, assuming there isn’t any underlying medical issue.


Dr. Erika, also known as The Globetrotting Veterinarian, graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College, where she led a successful campaign to end the euthanasia of animals used in surgical training. Erika makes routine visits to Thailand where she treats disabled elephants; leads a yearly spay-neuter clinic in India; and is a PADI Open Water Scuba Diving Instructor, which allows her to better promote the protection of marine life. She currently lives in Adelaide, Australia, where she works at a vet clinic that sees tropical birds as some of her patients, a few of which she brings home!