The condition of a dog’s skin and coat are good indicators of the dog’s overall health. A healthy dog will have dandruff-free skin and a shiny, healthy coat. Poor nutrition and underlying health problems can lead to unhealthy skin and coat. In many cases, adding a supplement to the dog’s diet can help treat the cause of the decline in coat and skin health.
Dog Skin and Coat Supplements
Skin and coat supplements for dogs can help keep the dog’s skin and coat healthy. There are many different kinds of supplements for dogs, and each has its benefits. In many cases, allergies cause a decline in a dog's coat and skin condition, and a supplement is all that's necessary to rectify the problem. The following supplements can help maintain and improve a dog’s skin and coat.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish and flaxseed oil both contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which is commonly recommended to help dogs suffering from skin disorders and allergies. Omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties, which help relieve allergies and inflammatory conditions.
Pet parents can purchase this supplement in liquid or gel capsules, each with pros and cons. For example, the liquid form allows the pet parent to easily adjust the dosage. Whereas it may be easier to get the dog to take the capsule form.
No matter which option the pet parent chooses, it’s important that they don’t give their dog too much Omega-3 to ensure the dog doesn't get an upset stomach.
Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Omega-6 fatty acids are known for adding shine to a dog’s coat and helping replace oil in their skin. Most high-quality dog foods are already rich in Omega-6s. Safflower, sunflower, and vegetable oils are also good sources of Omega-6s.
A little goes a long way with this supplement. Pet parents only need to add a spoonful to their dog’s diet once a day. The size of the spoon will depend on the size of the dog. A runny stool is a sign the pet parent used too much.
Vitamin A is an essential nutrient most of a dog’s organs require to function correctly — including their skin. High-quality dog food should contain all the vitamin A a dog needs. However, some dog breed’s genetics predispose them to be vitamin A deficient.
Routine blood work will indicate if a dog has a vitamin A deficiency. Pet parents should give their dog a vitamin A supplement only if they’ve received confirmation that their dog has a deficiency. Vitamins don’t sound like they would be dangerous, but it is possible for a pet parent to overdose their dog on vitamin A.
Clinical signs of a vitamin A overdose in dogs include:
- Stiff joints
- Bone disorder
Zinc is an essential mineral dogs need to help regulate their hormones and immune system. If a dog has a zinc deficiency, pet parents may notice skin that's irritated and prone to sores. Thankfully, zinc deficiencies are rare, and most dog foods have the required daily amount.
However, some large dog breeds have a predisposition to zinc-responsive dermatosis. This condition causes skin abnormalities and can be fatal if not properly diagnosed and treated. Once diagnosed, the dog will likely need to be on a supplement permanently and have regular blood work done to check their zinc levels.
High-Quality Food for Dogs
Adding supplements to a dog’s diet should not replace the quality of their dog food. Supplements should be given in addition to high-quality dog food that has a mention on the label from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
Pet parents can usually find the AAFCO stamp below the ingredient label which signifies the food is complete and nutritionally balanced for a dog’s life stage. When choosing a dog food, pet parents should always read the label and avoid foods with a lot of artificial preservatives and dyes.
Pet parents should also consider their dog’s breed when buying dog food. Some dog breeds are more prone to various conditions and a breed-specific diet can help prevent some of these conditions. For example, Labradors are prone to obesity and benefit from lower-calorie diets.
Not all dog foods are breed-specific, although many are size-specific and are formulated based on the dog or puppy’s size. For example, large-breed puppies typically need more essential nutrients than small-breed puppies.
Additional Dog Health Advice
Knowing what dog food and supplements to give their dogs can be overwhelming for many pet parents. If a pet parent is unsure if their dogs need supplements, they can contact Fuzzy 24/7 via Vet Chat to speak with a veterinary nutritionist for recommendations.