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Dog food for
healthy skin and coat

The condition of a dog’s skin and coat is an indicator of general health and well-being. A shiny, soft and healthy dog coat with supple skin indicates proper nutrition and good health, whereas a dull coat with dry, flakey skin indicates suboptimal nutrition.

The importance of a healthy dog skin and coat

The skin acts as a protective outer barrier against potentially harmful environmental factors and prevents water loss to maintain hydration. This barrier is made possible through the action of lipids (fats), which seal together the layers of skin cells.

These lipids come from essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids absorbed from the diet, which are an important contributing factor to a healthy skin and coat. These fatty acids also make up the lipid in sebum, the oily substance that is secreted from the skin onto hair shafts, and helps give the coat a shiny or glossy appearance.

What nutrients should be found in dog food for a healthy skin and coat?

Minerals and vitamins play a key role in a healthy skin and coat. Zinc is a mineral widely distributed throughout the body and is an integral part of many enzymes involved in the metabolism of fat, protein and carbohydrates. It is essential for the biosynthesis of fatty acids and plays a role in the body’s immune system, both of which are important to a healthy coat in dogs.

B vitamins, such as biotin (vitamin B7), niacin (vitamin B3), riboflavin (vitamin B2), pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), are also important nutrients for skin and coat health. Many of the B vitamins help with the metabolism and synthesis of glucose, fatty acids and amino acids that are important in the structure of skin and hair cells.

The science behind a healthy skin and coat in dogs

Research from Texas1 and the United Kingdom2 has shown that high levels of fatty acids, zinc and B vitamins can promote a healthy skin and coat in dogs better than when only the required nutrient levels are met.

The studies involved measurements of coat shine, dander, softness, overall coat feel and transepidermal water loss. A reduction in water loss through the skin barrier means that the skin will stay hydrated and supple and can provide an effective barrier to defend against environmental factors.

Linoleic acid and zinc were proven to improve coat shine, reduce water loss across the skin barrier and reduce dandruff. Similar studies have been performed using targeted levels of B vitamins. In addition to reduced water loss across the skin and reduced dandruff, B vitamins increased coat softness.

What ingredients should be found in dog food for a healthy skin and coat?

  • Omega-3 fatty acids are provided through natural sources such as flaxseed, fish oil, fish and fish meal.
  • Omega-6 fatty acids come from vegetable oil, chicken, chicken meal, chicken fat and whole grains, which are rich sources of these essential fatty acids.
    Zinc is provided in its mineral form as zinc oxide and zinc proteinate, where it is bound to a protein for easy absorption by the body.
  • B vitamins are found in natural sources such as whole brown rice. They also need to be supplemented in dog food as niacin, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin (vitamin B2), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6) and biotin in order to achieve the necessary levels for a healthy coat and skin.

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