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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 Riverside County vets explain the relationship between your dog's skin, coat, and its diet.

Veterinarians have long recognized that your dog's daily nutrition can influence the condition and health of its skin and coat, for better or worse. In fact, up to 25% of all dogs have skin or coat issues that may be exacerbated by their daily diet.

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

Your dog's skin is its largest organ and, as a result, uses a lot of resources from its body to maintain. Especially when you consider that it is also responsible for growing and maintaining the health and condition of your dog's 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. 

As a result, dogs who have met all of their nutritional requirements and are not suffering from an unrelated skin condition are much more likely to have a healthy, glossy, and full coat, as well as skin that is free of dryness and irritation.

Dogs who do not meet all of their nutritional needs, on the other hand, are unable to supply their skin with the building blocks necessary to maintain their health and coat condition. In such cases, their coat may appear dull, their skin may be dry or irritated, and they may scratch or groom more than is necessary or healthy for their body.

How does poor nutrition affect my dog's skin?

Any nutritional deficiencies in your dog, whether due to a lack of eating or a lack of a specific nutritional ingredient, will have an impact on their skin health.

One of the most common ways your dog's diet can harm their skin health is by degrading or destroying a biofilm that naturally forms on the outside of their 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 the skin from external irritants, promoting moisture retention, and serving as a physical barrier against harmful bacteria that would otherwise accumulate on the skin.

When your dog's skin lacks the nutritional ingredients it requires to maintain its biofilm, it can become irritated, infected, uncomfortable, and, if left untreated, potentially dangerous to its overall health.

Certain dog breeds, including bulldogs and pugs, are more prone to skin infections due to folds that can harbor bacteria. Maintaining a healthy diet that allows them to naturally defend themselves against these microscopic invaders is even more important than in other dogs.

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, the following are some of the most common in dogs that aren't getting 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 are the most obvious way in which a dog's diet can harm its skin and coat, your dog may also exhibit symptoms of skin problems if they have a dermatological dietary allergy. In cases like this, your dog's body's response is caused by what they eat, not what they don't eat.

Some dogs are allergic to specific food ingredients, and if this is the case, they may develop symptoms similar to those described above. 

If you suspect that your dog is not getting enough nutrition from its daily diet, contact your veterinarian right away. They will either be able to test your dog for allergies or refer you to a veterinary dermatologist.

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 Banning Veterinary 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 veterinary dermatologist if need be.

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Banning Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients. Our experienced and compassionate vets care about the health of animals across Riverside County. Contact us today in order to book your first appointment.

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