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Nutrition, Skin, & Dogs

Just like in people, our dogs' skin is their largest organ. When combined with their coat, it makes up 12% of the average dog's body weight. What you may not know is that your dog's daily nutrition can have a significant impact on the health and condition of its skin and coat. Here, our Fort Worth vets explain the relationship between your dog's nutrition, skin, and coat.

How does nutrition affect my dog's skin and coat?

Veterinarians have known for a long time that your dog's daily nutrition can affect the condition and health of its skin and coat – for better or worse. In fact, up to 25% of all dogs have a skin or coat problem that their daily diet could exacerbate.

As your dog's largest organ, the skin uses a lot of resources from the body to maintain, especially when you consider that the skin grows and maintains the health and condition of the coat too!

So, it only stands to reason that the quality and nutritional contents of your dog's diet each day will have an impact on the kinds of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fats that your pooch will have access to in order to maintain the health of their skin. 

Because of this, dogs that have all of their dietary needs met and do not suffer from an unrelated skin condition display a healthy, glossy, and full coat as well as skin free of dryness and irritation. 

On the other hand, dogs who don't get all of their nutritional needs met cannot supply their skin with the building blocks it requires to maintain its own health and coat condition. In such cases, their coat may appear dull, their skin dry or irritated, and they may scratch or groom more than normal or healthy for their body.

How does poor nutrition affect my dog's skin?

Any deficits in your dog's nutrition, whether from not eating enough or not getting enough of a particular nutritional ingredient, will impact the health of their skin. 

One of the most common ways that your dog's diet can affect their skin health negatively is the degradation or destruction of a 'biofilm' that naturally sits on the outside of your dog's skin. 

A healthy dog's skin naturally secretes a substance known as 'sebum.' This substance forms a protective layer on top of your dog's skin, shielding it from external irritants, aiding in moisture retention, and acting as a physical barrier against harmful bacteria that would otherwise accumulate on the skin.

When your dog's skin doesn't get the nutritional ingredients it needs to maintain its biofilm, its skin can become home to bacteria and become irritated, infected, uncomfortable, and, if it goes long enough, dangerous to its overall health.

Some breeds of dogs (such as bulldog breeds or pugs) contract to skin infections easier because of folds in their skin that may become home to bacteria. Maintaining a proper diet to allows them to naturally defend themselves against these microscopic invaders.

What are the symptoms of skin and coat conditions caused by my dog's diet?

While skin conditions in dogs can display a number of symptoms, we'll list some of the most common in our canine companions that do not get enough nutrition in their diets:

  • Sparse, dry, dull hair with “split ends”
  • Slow growth or no growth of hair from spots that have been clipped or shaved
  • Accumulation of dry skin scales
  • Pressure sores
  • Change in or loss of hair color

What other skin problems may be associated with my dog's diet & food?

While nutritional deficiencies present the most direct way that a dog's diet may negatively impact its skin and coat, your dog may also display symptoms of skin issues if they have a dermatological dietary allergy. In cases like this, rather than being caused by what isn't in your dog's food, their body's response is caused by what is in your dog's food. 

Some dogs display allergic reactions to specific food ingredients. If true for your dog, they may begin to exhibit symptoms similar to those listed above. If you suspect that your dog doesn't get enough nutritional value from its daily diet, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. They can test your dog for allergies and walk you through the process of narrowing down ingredients until you find the best food for your dog's health and well-being.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Have you noticed that your dog has a poor coat or skin condition? Bring them to see the vets at Harris Parkway Animal Hospital today. We will be able to work with you to select the right foods to meet your dog's nutritional needs and possibly refer you to a Fort Worth veterinary dermatologist if need be.

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Harris Parkway Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Fort Worth companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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