Skin Health for your Dog

Your pet’s skin and coat health can depend on many factors including genetics, diet, and other health conditions, such as parasitic or microbial infections, endocrine disorders, immune disorders, kidney disease and more.

Diet is a major contributor to skin and coat health. Your dog’s skin, coat and even nails all need protein from the diet to be strong and properly formed. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and there are 22 different amino acids, of which 10 are ‘essential’ to dogs.  An essential amino acid is one that the dog’s body cannot synthesize and must be provided in the diet.  The remaining 12 are able to be made by a dog’s body from these 10. If a dog is not provided with the right amount or right balance of amino acids, they may develop a rough, dry coat and show signs of skin disease. In general, diets based on high quality meat-based proteins will better meet a dog’s needs than those based on plant-based proteins. So look for a diet where meat is the number one ingredient on the pack – such as Tucker Time.

The oils/fats in your dog’s diet are also important for skin and coat health. Omega 3 and 6 are two types of essential fatty acids that provide benefits for skin, coat and general health. Omega 3 fatty acids (such as DHA, docosahexaenoic acid or EPA, eicosapentaenoic acid) have an anti-inflammatory effect and are often used as a supplement for dogs with inflammatory or allergic skin disease. DHA is also essential in puppies for cognitive and retinal development and helps to maintain cognitive function in older dogs. Omega 6 fatty acids (such as linoleic acid and arachidonic acid) aid the formation of the skin barrier and helps to provide a glossy coat and supple skin. However, too much omega 6 can be somewhat pro-inflammatory as some of the precursors for the inflammatory cascade are in the omega 6 series, including arachidonic acid.  The balance between these fatty acids is also very important – ideally it should be between 1 to 5 to 1 to 10 omega 3 to omega 6 ratio.  Many pet foods have the ratio of omega 3 to 6 between 1 to 15 and 1 to 20, which is not ideal. Tucker Time formulations are all enriched with omega fatty acids and carefully balanced to produce an ideal ratio of omega 3 to 6.

It is very important to have the correct balance of vitamins and minerals too, for optimal skin and coat health; dietary enrichment with vitamins such as biotin and minerals such as zinc has been shown to have beneficial effects on skin health. A good quality diet for dogs, such as the Tucker Time range, provides all the micronutrients required – and at the right levels - for skin and coat health. The Tucker Time range has optimised biotin and zinc levels to promote good skin and coat health.

imageBrushing your dog regularly is important for skin health as it encourages blood flow to the skin and helps to spread the skin oils throughout the coat. It is also an excellent way to get some bonding time that your pet will thank you for. Washing your dog with a gentle shampoo and conditioner can also be beneficial. Human skin and dog skin have a different pH, so always use specific dog shampoos, rather than human shampoos to avoid dry skin and a damaged coat.

Poor coat health is often easy to spot, but skin disease can be more difficult to see underneath the fur. Common signs which indicate possible skin disease include itching, scratching, chewing and licking or hair loss. If you notice any of these signs, search under the haircoat for scaly skin, thickened skin, rashes, sores or uneven skin colour (pigmentation).

There are many different diseases that can lead to poor skin and coat health, including nutritional deficiencies, hormonal diseases, parasites, bacterial or yeast infections, neoplasia and allergies. Allergies are one of the more common causes in dogs. Dogs can be allergic to allergens in their environment or in their food. The degree of skin inflammation caused by these allergies can vary from mild to severe and the signs of skin disease may be different in every pet. Parasites such as fleas, mites and lice are also commonly implicated.  These are very easily treatable or preventable so be sure to keep your pet up to date with parasite control as per your vet’s advice. Fleas also commonly contribute to allergic skin disease and it only takes a few to cause a problem if your pet is sensitive to fleas, so be vigilant with regular year-round control and consult your vet if you see any signs of problems in your dog.

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