Skin conditions in dogs are all too common and can have a wide range of causes — from environmental and food allergies to parasites, from imbalances in hormones to bacterial and yeast infections, and from stress to boredom. Regardless of the cause, the incessant scratching, licking, chewing and fidgeting can make life miserable for your four-legged best friend.
Because skin problems can look alike yet have very different causes, it’s important to know exactly what’s causing your dog’s skin condition. That means a visit to your veterinarian, who can diagnose, treat and make nutritional recommendations for your dog.
Did you know?
Your dog’s skin is the largest organ of his body, accounting for 10 to 15 percent of his total body weight, and skin cells turn over rapidly. Skin is also one of the most important organs of your dog’s body because it’s his first line of defense against the environment, including parasites and infections. In combination with his coat, your dog’s skin:
- Protects his internal organs from the outside world and threats
- Regulates his body temperature through an insulating layer of fur
- Maintains proper hydration by preventing water loss, which could hurt your dog’s health if it becomes excessive
- Provides storage for protein, essential fatty acids, vitamin D and some minerals
Role of nutrition in skin health
Nothing affects the condition of your canine companion’s skin and coat more than his food. Many nutrients are needed to keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy, which also means one or more key nutrients can positively or negatively affect skin. Foods rich in protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins A and E, and zinc play an essential role in caring for your dog’s skin and coat. If you’re feeding a quality dog food, nutrient deficiencies are relatively uncommon. But when your dog has sensitive skin or other skin health concerns, it’s even more important to feed the right food.
How can the right food help?
While some skin issues (such as fleas or mites) can be cleared up quickly, others (such as environmental or food allergies) will need lifelong management. The good news is that even if the cause of your dog’s skin condition isn’t related to his food, he may still benefit from eating a high-quality food formulated especially for sensitive skin, such as Diamond CARE Sensitive Skin Formula for Adult Dogs.
When looking for a sensitive skin formula, you’ll want to look for a food that provides these important skin-protecting nutrients:
High-quality protein provides the amino acid building blocks needed for natural cell production and repair. If food doesn’t provide enough protein, then the coat may become dry, dull and brittle, and there may be patches of hair loss. Feeding a food containing hydrolyzed protein (protein that has been broken into small pieces) or unique protein sources, such as bison or venison, can help decrease reactions in dogs with food allergy or intolerances to more common ingredients.
Essential fatty acids
A dog food containing high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, such as those naturally found in fish oil, can help protect your pet’s skin from dryness. At the cell level, the key omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) can help fight inflammation.
Vitamins E and A along with other antioxidants such as the minerals zinc and selenium are important to your pet’s healthy immune system. As part of a complete and balanced dog food, this antioxidant combination can help protect your dog’s body from damage caused by free radicals. They can also make a healthy difference on the outside by supporting healthy skin and a shiny coat.
When it comes to skin conditions, early intervention is often the key to providing relief. Contact your veterinarian at the first sign of trouble so your best friend can be comfortable.