Nutrition is important for a healthy skin and coat

Nutrients such as protein, fat, vitamins and minerals play important roles in the skin and coat health of dogs. The purpose of skin and hair is to prevent things from leaving (such as water or heat) or entering (such as viruses and bacteria) the body.

Your dog’s coat is made up almost entirely of protein. If his doesn’t have enough protein quantity and quality, hair may fall out or become dry, weak and brittle.

His skin is made up of flat cells tightly packed together. These cells have tough membranes made of proteins and fats. Without proper amounts of these nutrients, cell membranes weaken, allowing water to escape and bacteria and viruses to enter more easily.

Essential amino acids and fatty acids

Proteins are found in both animal-based and plant-based ingredients. Animal-based proteins contain all the essential amino acids dogs need, whereas plant-based proteins may contain only some essential amino acids.

Animal-based proteins help dogs achieve optimal health.

Fats are also found in both animal- and plant-based ingredients and are incorporated into skin cells as fatty acids. There is one essential fatty acid for a dog’s skin and coat health: linoleic acid. Without enough linoleic acid, dogs may experience a dull, dry coat, hair loss, greasy skin and increased susceptibility to skin irritation.

This fatty acid is found in chicken fat and vegetable oils (such as corn and soybean). IAMS research has also found that the fatty acids in vitamin-rich fish oils help promote excellent skin and coat health.

Vitamins and minerals

Your dog needs vitamins and minerals for his healthy skin and coat. The best way to provide these nutrients is by feeding a complete and balanced diet full of essential vitamins and minerals, rather than giving him supplements.

Vitamin or Mineral Importance to skin and coat health
Vitamin A Necessary for growth and repair of skin
Vitamin E Protects skin cells from oxidant damage
Vitamin C Helps heal wounds
Biotin Aids in the utilization of protein
Riboflavin (B2) Necessary for fat and protein metabolism
Zinc Necessary for fat and protein metabolism
Copper Involved in tissue, pigment and protein synthesis

Changes in coat condition

Diet can be a factor when changes in skin and coat condition occur, but the most common causes are season and life stage. As cold weather approaches, most dogs grow a thick coat to help keep heat in and cold air out. As the weather begins to warm up, they shed the thick, heavy coat.

Most puppies are born with soft, fuzzy hair but as they age, a coarser coat grows. Pregnant or nursing dogs also may experience a change in coat condition or hair loss. And, as with humans, the hair on dogs may thin out and become coarser and white as they reach their mature years.

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