A dog’s skin and coat are reflections of their overall health, and often times a dull coat can reveal more in-depth issues that your pet may be suffering from.
Many pet owner’s think the best way to handle common skin and coat issues is external solutions, like sprays or shampoos. While many skin and coat issues can benefit from external products or help alleviate symptoms; proper skin and coat health first starts on the inside with a proper diet and evaluation of potential medical issues.
Common Skin & Coat Issues:
• Itchy Skin
• Lack-luster or Dull Fur
• Excessive Shedding
• Hot Spots or Rashes
• Dermatitis and/ or Dander
• Hair Loss
Low Quality Diet
An overall low quality diet that contains primarily plant based protein fillers can contribute to skin and coat issues. Fillers like corn, beet pulp, etc., or large amounts of processed grains and starches are less desirable than more nutritionally dense ingredients that are present in higher quality foods.
TIPS: Ingredients are listed from highest weight in the food to lowest. Look for a dog food that is primarily meat based with antioxidants, chelated vitamins, and digestive enzymes. Additionally, there are many veterinary formulated recipe books on the market for making your dog a balanced diet at home. Such recipes can be time consuming but rival modern commercial diets when used correctly and can also be used alongside a commercial diet to introduce fresh foods.
Skin & Coat Supplements
Adding Omega 3 and 6 to your dog’s diet can do wonders for itchy or dry skin. It is not often found in commercial pet food, especially in lower quality foods. Omega 3 and 6 together offer anti-inflammatory properties and fatty acids that are beneficial for overall skin health, regardless of the underlining cause of the skin or coat issue..
TIPS: Wild caught fish oil formulated for pets is the best sources of Omega 3 and 6. While olive oil and vegetable do offer some beneficial fats, they are not as nutritionally dense as fish oil and are much higher in calorie content, making them a poor choice.
To the shock and disbelief of many pet parents, it is not uncommon for a dog to eventually develop allergies or an intolerance to their current food. Many ingredients in the pet food industry are overused, such ingredients when consistently fed with little variety frequently become the culprit for skin issues and allergies.
TIPS: Rotate your dog’s protein to help avoid building an intolerance. Feed a novel protein such as Fish/Salmon, Rabbit, Venison or Duck paired with few other ingredients and keep a running list of pet foods that did not agree with your pet.
Since you cannot change the environment, severe environmental allergy related skin issues are controlled through veterinary prescribed medication. This allergy can be very challenging for pet owners and controlling skin issues as best as possible to provide comfort to your dog is priority.
TIPS: Wipe your dog’s feet and body after coming in from outside to reduce allergens on the coat if they suffer from environmental allergies. Severe reactions may require prescribed medicated baths and grooming products with natural antiseptics like tea tree oil with soothing oatmeal are recommended.
Dogs are commonly allergic or sensitive to a flea’s saliva which can result in hair loss, itchy skin, or rashes after being bitten. Generally these issues begin around the hind legs and will continue even after the fleas are dead.
TIPS: The best way to avoid skin issues caused by flea hypersensitivity is to use a monthly flea preventive during peak flea season. Use a soothing oatmeal shampoo to help alleviate symptoms.
There can be underlining medical reasons causing your pet skin and coat discomfort, such as Cushing’s Disease, Thyroid Issue, etc. Don’t ignore persistent skin and coat issues, consult your vet to find the underlining cause, especially if your pet is experiencing additional symptoms or has a history.
This is a general introduction to common skin and coat issues, it’s not intended to treat or diagnose a specific health problem for your pet.
Michelle Rauh is the owner of Fox & Feline, an informative pet blog for dog and cat owners and product line of handmade pet accessories. The Fox & Feline household features a multi-species mash up of three rescued felines and two adopted Pomeranians, not to mention the occasional foster kitten. Michelle has been working in pet supply, pet grooming salons, and pet rescue since 2008. She is currently a volunteer for Paws for People alongside her therapy cat Moto and supporter of local TNR / rescue groups.