I had a request to put together some information on which oils can be used to supplement a dog’s diet to improve their coat and skin quality.

For those of you who have never heard of giving your dog oil and are wondering why the heck anyone would go to such trouble, it’s because our dry climate gives many dogs dry flaky skin. Adding certain oils to their diet will help give them what they need to produce more of their natural coat oils.

But before you consider adding a supplement of any kind, it is important that you go through a check list to see if that is what your canine really needs. Oil will not fix a bad skin and coat if there is an underlying problem.

Questions to ask yourself before looking of a coat supplement:

Is the dog being given too many baths? Shampoo cleans away both dirt and essential coat oils that keep the skin healthy.

Is the food he is eating of good quality and providing everything he needs? Many dogs cannot produce a good coat because their diets do not provide enough nutrients to do so.

Does your dog have allergies that could contribute to bad skin? Red splotches, ear infections and constant scratching or licking can be a sign of allergies. And some oils will only make them worse, so find out the underlying cause before you add anything new to their diet.

Now, if you have gone through the checklist and you are sure that it is only dry skin that plagues your pooch. There are a few things you need to know about supplementing oils.

Many oils are not digestible for your canine. Also, if you give too much too fast you will end up with diarrhea that is a nightmare.

As a general rule, one teaspoon of oil per 25 pounds of weight is ideal, but some oils are richer, so cut back. Never start at full dose, use a quarter of the amount you eventually want to get to and slowly increase it over two weeks. If their stool starts to get runny, cut back and stay at the lower dose for a while.

Vegetable oil does nothing for the coat and dogs cannot digest it properly so it acts like a laxative.

Corn oil will only put weight on your dog. It’s also a high allergen.

Cod liver oil is too rich and will also cause diarrhea.

Flax oil is good, in smaller doses.

Fish oil, the kind sold for pets, is good; it has everything needed without being too rich. And dogs with allergies can usually have it without aggravating their condition.

Wheat germ oil supplement, with added A D and E, is a great supplement for both horses and dogs. But it will aggravate allergies.

I hope that will give a starting point for those of you who are looking to help relieve dry skin in you canines.