A shiny, healthy coat signals vitality and can indicate the health status of your pet. Often, the main cause of dry, flaky, itchy skin and coat is the nutritional requirements not being met from a complete and balanced diet.
What do I need to know about my pet's skin and coat?
The skin and coat form the largest organ in dogs, comprising around 10% to 15% of their total body weight. The skin is made up of the hypodermis, dermis and epidermis. Your dog’s coat consists of thousands of hairs which are under constant environmental stress, and in turn are continuously shed and replaced.
Role of skin and coat in pet health
Apart from making your dog look amazing, skin and coat also plays an important role in health, including protection (barrier from external objects), immunity, thermoregulation (regulating pet temperature), hydration and nutrient storage (including amino acids, collagen fibres and enzymes).
What food should I give for a healthy skin and coat?
Nothing affects the condition of your dog’s coat more than food. Diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals play an essential part in caring for your dog’s skin and coat.
· Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) help protect the skin and coat and keep it shiny. EPA helps combat inflammation. Sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fish and algal oils and flaxseed.
· Linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid found in flaxseed is a key nutrient in maintaining a healthy coat. Many pets with dry, flaky skin are often deficient in linoleic acid. Dandruff, thin hair, discoloured hair, increased shedding, and poor healing are all associated with low linoleic acid levels in the skin and diet.
· Zinc is especially important in the skin because of the high cellular turnover rate caused by constant shedding. In addition, zinc helps reduce water loss through the skin. Pets who are fed low levels of zinc develop hair loss, skin infections, and a dull appearance.
· Biotin and B vitamins play important roles as cofactors in many of the body's metabolic processes, including fat metabolism. This is important in the skin because biotin and B vitamins are involved in aiding linoleic acid function in the epidermis and dermis.
Studies show that adding omega-3 fatty acids, linoleic acid, and zinc in combination increases coat shine and decreases dry, flaky skin.
A healthy diet leads to a healthy skin and coat and thus better dog health. A complete and balanced diet rich in nutrients, high protein and meat and no cheap fillers is essential for healthy dogs.
Check out our video on our Biologically Appropriate Dog Foods.