after three weeks of boarding. His coat is in bad shape in he is shedding unimaginable amounts of hair. What's the best approach to get him healthy again?
Unfortunately, we couldn't find a friend to petsit for our long-ago planned wedding and honeymoon trip, so we had our dog boarded at the best-reviewed kennel in the region for the duration of our trip. I'm certain that they took great care of him – they took more interest in him than any of the other kennels we visited before the trip, he got loads of playtime, exercise and individual attention while there and seemed overall happy.
Here's the problem: his coat is very dry, he has dandruff, and he is shedding like crazy
. I can see his pink skin underneath his coat in some areas. I brushed him with a rubber Zoom Groom for half an hour last night and almost an hour today, and tons of hair came off, as in enough to stuff a pillow. The kennel also bathed and groomed him just before I got him back, and showed me the mountain of hair that came off him with a Furminator-type blade.
Bathing: Normally, he doesn't have a dog odor so I bathed him as needed when he managed to get into mucky ponds, for example – about every 2-3 weeks – with shampoo for sensitive skin that left his coat soft and incredibly good-looking. He smells a bit like dog kennel now despite getting a bath a couple of days ago and I wish I could bathe him, but won't if it will make his skin even worse.
Nutrition: I fed him mostly raw food (meaty bones and blended herbs and vegetables) with occasional grain-free kibble before. His coat was great and shedding was easily to control with a bit of brushing every other day. I switched him to Orijen Regional Red
, which is supposed to be one of the best foods on the market, a couple of days before going away. While boarded, he got kibble, a frozen raw chicken drumstick and treats every day. I started supplementing with fish oil today. Should I stick with Orijen or right away revert to his raw meaty bones diet? A mix of both?
I have tons of the dry food left, and it wasn't exactly cheap. He likes it a lot, too, and it is much more convenient for training than raw meat for obvious reasons.
Skin: I took him for a check-up just after adopting him, and his vet said that he has very sensitive skin, so he eats a grain-free diet and has a prescription spray for the occasional rashes he gets. The kennel gave him antihistamines a few times when they noticed irritated areas. He is happier than usual when he gets brushed, so I suspect his skin is itchy as well, but he doesn't scratch himself much. His lips seem dryer than usual. Do I need to take him to his vet, or is that an issue that can be resolved through nutrition and just the fact that he is back home, getting all the love and attention he thrives on?
Weather: He had about a week of heavier shedding when the weather in Seattle got warmer in June, but nothing even close to this. It's been hot here the last couple of weeks, and the kennel owner said that many of the dogs are shedding heavily despite cooling indoors. However, she seemed a bit surprised by the amount of hair coming off of Chance.
Stress: The kennel owner said that it was common for dogs to lose hair while boarded (I lost a ton of my hair when I moved to a different country for a while last year, so much that I had to see a dermatologist!). In addition to the anxiety of being away from home, he may have found the presence of other dogs nearby quite stressful since he is a very reactive dog with poor impulse control (we're just getting started with training). I realize stress is likely contributing to the hair loss, but could it also account for the severe dryness and dandruff?
Behavior: Chance is happy, elated to be back home with us (lots of face licking) and gets decent amounts of exercise. He eats and drinks water normally, responds to commands and plays well – so hopefully there is no underlying health problem.
He's my first dog and I've only had him for since May, so please forgive me for how long and anxiety-ridden this question is. Any advice is much appreciated!