There is a connection between a beautiful, shiny coat in dogs and their diet. Because the right food not only keeps dogs’ skin and hair beautiful, but also healthy. Read here which food your dog’s coat starts to shine with.
The condition of a dog’s coat and skin is an important indicator of its health. Because brittle fur and changes in the skin can often indicate illnesses in the dog or nutrient deficiencies. Therefore, the health and appearance of skin and coat in dogs is directly related to their diet.
High quality proteins for skin and hair
Skin and coat need a lot of high-quality protein for their constant renewal process: around a third of a dog’s daily protein requirement is allotted to keeping the skin and coat healthy. However, its quality is more important than the amount of protein consumed. In addition to high digestibility, which ensures that the dog can utilize the protein well, the amino acid pattern is particularly interesting.
Of the 20 different natural building blocks of protein (the amino acids), ten are essential for the dog. This means that it cannot form them itself, but is dependent on being supplied with food. If the replenishment does not work here, this affects the coat quality within a few weeks: The coat becomes dull, loses color intensity and the hair breaks off easily, so that the coat can appear thinned out.
Unsaturated Fatty Acids for the Skin
Itching is a typical accompanying symptom of skin diseases, regardless of their cause. Dry skin is also often itchy and can be the result of a fatty acid deficiency. Unsaturated fats are considered to be particularly valuable helpers. Linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid from vegetable oils, deserves special mention here. It is essential for the dog. But omega-3 fatty acids (e.g. EPA and DHA) can also help the skin by limiting inflammation and thus reducing itching. They are mainly found in fish oil and fish products.
Basically, if you want to give your dog an additional supplement for skin and coat, you should consult a veterinarian beforehand!
Zinc for healthy dog skin
The trace element zinc is important for skin renewal and wound healing. Together with vitamin C, it ensures the strength of the connective tissue. This works both via feeding and via local application. Therefore, many wound ointments contain a combination of zinc and vitamin A, which is considered the “epithelial protection vitamin”.
Sheen and color of dog fur
The following materials are important for the dog so that the coat shines beautifully and its color comes into its own:
- Zinc and linoleic acid are an unbeatable team: The omega-6 fatty acid, which is essential for dogs and cats, is responsible for the shine of the coat, and zinc helps to reduce dandruff. With the combination of both nutrients, the effect can be increased significantly.
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids are considered particularly valuable fats because they are part of the sebum secretion and significantly influence its quality and consistency by making it smoother or slightly more liquid. The sebum spreads over the surface of the skin, protects the skin, and gives the coat its shine.
- The amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine as well as copper are important for the formation of the hair pigment melanin. A plentiful supply supports “rich” pigmentation and brings out the natural coat color to its best advantage. A deficiency can lead to reddish discoloration of the hair in animals with dark fur.
Supporting the skin barrier of dogs
An intact skin barrier is an effective protection against the penetration of pathogens and pollutants from outside. At the same time, it limits water loss and protects the skin from drying out. Signs of a disturbed skin barrier are:
- rough coat of hair
- dry skin
- hair loss
In such a case, nutrients can help to “seal” the barrier: essential fatty acids improve the quality of skin fats. A combination of B vitamins with the amino acid histidine was able to stimulate the formation of skin fats both in studies on cell cultures and on dogs. It takes about eight weeks of feeding before this effect becomes visible on the dog’s coat.
Nutrient Deficiency in Dogs
Thanks to the wide range of high-quality, balanced ready-to-eat foods, nutrient deficiencies as the cause of skin problems are becoming less important. When feeding a balanced complete feed, no additional food supplements are necessary.
Poorly balanced (homemade) rations or ready-to-eat foods that do not meet the requirements of a complete feed can lead to a deficiency in individual nutrients and poor skin and coat quality. This applies in particular to zinc, copper, vitamin A, essential fatty acids and high-quality proteins.
A study was able to show that self-composed diets for the clarification of a feed allergy can cause deficiency symptoms in the skin and coat after just four weeks (i.e. half the recommended duration of an elimination diet) if they are not designed to cover the needs of all nutrients.
Obesity and skin health
Obesity in dogs is also related to skin health. Overweight animals have a particularly thick layer of subcutaneous fatty tissue and as a result form additional skin folds. In these folds there is an unhealthy microclimate that promotes skin inflammation.
Subcutaneous fat is also poorly supplied with blood, which hinders the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the skin. Since the skin has a particularly intensive metabolism, it does not tolerate such an unfavorable supply situation well and reacts with dryness, excessive sebum formation, a dull coat or dandruff.
Conclusion: Healthy food for skin and hair
The skin is a large organ with an intensive metabolism. The most important substances for them are:
- high quality protein
- Trace elements such as zinc and copper
- essential fatty acids
- Vitamins (especially the skin protectant vitamin A and the B vitamins) to stay healthy.
In addition, certain nutrients can also have a positive cosmetic effect beyond what is required: the combination of linoleic acid and zinc ensures a special coat shine. The amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine bring out the natural coat color particularly well. A high-quality diet “for the skin” is not only sensible and important from the point of view of beauty: A strong skin barrier makes the dog more resistant to harmful environmental influences and thus makes an important contribution to the general health and well-being of the dog.