Not every owner understands how much their dog's diet can affect the quality of their skin and coat. Here, our Dallas vets explain the link between your dog's nutrition and the health of their coat and skin.
How does nutrition impact my dog's skin and coat?
Did you know that a dog's skin is their largest organ? Combined with their coat, it makes up 12% of the average dog's body weight, which is why a dog's skin and coat need so much energy and nutrients to maintain their health.
So, it makes sense that the quality of your dog's daily diet is reflected in the appearance and quality of their skin and coat. If your dog doesn't receive enough nutrients, he won't be able to supply his skin with the building blocks it needs to maintain its own health. Under these circumstances, the coat may start to look patchy or dull, and their skin may be excessively irritated or dry.
How does poor nutrition impact my dog's skin?
When a dog consumes a substandard diet, the biofilm that naturally sits on the outside of the skin (also referred to as the sebum) can degrade or become destroyed. Similar to humans, a healthy dog's skin naturally secrets sebum to create a protective layer atop their skin, which protects it from bacteria and debris by keeping the skin moisturized.
If your dog's skin doesn't receive the natural ingredients it needs to maintain this biofilm, bacteria can breed and irritate the skin. Infections may develop and cause discomfort for your dog. Left untreated, these infections can endanger your dog's overall health.
Some breeds, including pugs and bulldogs, are more susceptible to skin infections due to the folds in their skin not being as exposed to air. This can attract more bacteria. Feeding your dog a proper diet can allow their body to build a natural defense against these microscopic invaders. This is even more important for these breeds than for other dogs.
What symptoms of skin and coat conditions may appear as a result of a dog's poor diet?
- 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?
While nutritional deficiencies are the most direct way that a dog's diet may negatively impact their skin and coat, your dog may also display symptoms of skin issues if they have a dermatological 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 (due to the dietary allergen).
Some dogs have allergies to specific ingredients in foods and, if this is the case, they may begin to display quite similar symptoms to those listed above. If you suspect that your dog is getting all of the nutritional value they need from their daily diet, contact your vet as soon as possible. They will be able to perform a thorough wellness exam, test your pup for allergies and walk you through the steps of narrowing down ingredients until you find a food that works best 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.