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Nutrition, Skin & Dogs

Not every owner is aware of just how much of an impact their dog's diet has on their skin and coat. In this article, our Somerset vets explain the relationship between your dog's nutrition and the health of their coat and skin. 

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

Your dog's skin is their largest organ. Combined with their coat, it comprises about 12% of the average dog's body weight, which is why so much of the dog's energy and nutrient intake is dedicated to maintaining their skin and coat. 

So, it only stands to reason that the quality of your dog's diet each day will be reflected in the quality of their coat and skin. Dogs that don't receive enough nutrients aren't able to supply their skin with the essential building blocks needed to maintain its own health. In such cases, the coat may look patchy or dull, and their skin may be dry and irritated. 

How does poor nutrition affect my dog's skin? 

One of the most common ways your dog's diet can negatively impact their skin health is the destruction or degradation of the sebum – the naturally-produced biofilm that usually covers your dog's skin. Like humans, this substance is secreted naturally when your dog's skin is healthy. It acts as a protective layer atop their skin, protecting it from bacteria and debris and keeping the skin moist. 

When your dog's skin doesn't receive the natural ingredients it needs to maintain the sebum, bacteria can accumulate, which can lead to irritation, infection and discomfort if left untreated. This can become dangerous to your dog's general health. 

Some dog breeds, like pugs and bulldogs, are more vulnerable to skin infections as folds in their skin that aren't as exposed to air can hide more bacteria. Maintaining a proper diet for these breeds is even more important than with other dogs because it allows the skin to defend itself against these microscopic invaders.

What symptoms of skin and coat conditions can poor diet cause in dogs? 

Poor skin condition can cause numerous symptoms. The most common include:

  • Slow growth or no growth of hair from spots that have been shaved or clipped 
  • Dry, dull hair with "split ends" 
  • A buildup of scales on dry skin 
  • Change in or loss of hair color 
  • Pressure sores

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 to book an exam.

They will be able to test your dog for allergies and walk you through the steps of narrowing down ingredients in their diet 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.

Are you concerned about the health of your dog's coat or skin? Contact our Somerset vets today to book an exam.

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Are you looking for a new vet in the Somerset area? Midway Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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