Nutrition, Skin, & Dogs

Just like in people, our dogs' skin is their largest organ. When combined with their coat, it makes up 12% of the average dog's body weight. What you may not know is that your dog's daily nutrition can have a significant impact on the health and condition of its skin and coat. Here, our Edgewater vets explain the relationship between your dog's diet and their skin and coat.

Veterinarians have known for a long time that your dog's daily nutrition can affect the condition and health of its skin and coat - for better or worse. In fact, up to 25% of all dogs have a skin or coat problem that could be exacerbated by their daily diet.

How does nutrition affect my dog's skin and coat?

Your dog's skin is its largest organ and, as a result, uses a lot of resources from its body to maintain - especially when you consider that it is also responsible for growing and maintaining the health and condition of its coat too!

So, it only stands to reason that the quality and nutritional contents of your dog's diet each day will have an impact on the kinds of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fats that your pooch will have access to in order to maintain the health of their skin. 

As a result, dogs who have met all of their nutritional requirements and are not suffering from an unrelated skin condition are much more likely to have a healthy, glossy, and full coat, as well as skin that is free of dryness and irritation.

Dogs who do not meet all of their nutritional needs, on the other hand, are unable to supply their skin with the building blocks necessary to maintain their health and coat condition. In such cases, their coat may appear dull, their skin may be dry or irritated, and they may scratch or groom more than is necessary or healthy for their body.

How does poor nutrition affect my dog's skin?

Any deficits in your dog's nutrition - whether that be them not eating enough or not getting enough of a particular nutritional ingredient - will impact the health of their skin. 

The degradation or destruction of a "biofilm" that naturally sits on the surface of your dog's skin is one of the most common ways that your dog's diet can have a negative impact on his or her skin.

A healthy dog's skin naturally secretes a substance known as ‘sebum’ (as does human skin!). This substance forms a protective layer on top of your dog's skin, shielding it from external irritants, promoting moisture retention, and serving as a physical barrier against harmful bacteria that would otherwise accumulate on the skin.

When your dog's skin lacks the nutritional ingredients it requires to maintain its biofilm, it can become irritated, infected, uncomfortable, and, if left untreated, potentially dangerous to its overall health.

Certain dog breeds, including bulldogs and pugs, are more prone to skin infections due to folds that can harbor bacteria. Maintaining a healthy diet that allows them to naturally defend themselves against these microscopic invaders is even more important than in other breeds.

What are the symptoms of skin and coat conditions caused by my dog's diet?

Despite the fact that skin conditions in dogs can manifest in a variety of ways, the following are some of the most common manifestations associated with our canine companions who do not receive adequate nutrition in their diets:

  • Sparse, dry, dull hair with “split ends”
  • Slow growth or no growth of hair from spots that have been clipped or shaved
  • Accumulation of dry skin scales
  • Pressure sores
  • Change in or loss of hair color

What other skin problems may be associated with my dog's diet & food?

While nutritional deficiencies are the most obvious way in which a dog's diet can harm its skin and coat, they may also exhibit symptoms of skin problems if they have a dermatological dietary allergy. In cases like this, your dog's body's response is caused by what they eat, not what they don't eat.

It is possible that some dogs are allergic to specific food components, and if this is the case, they may develop symptoms similar to those described above. Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible if you suspect that the food your dog consumes on a daily basis does not provide adequate nutritional value. Until you find the best food for your dog's health and well-being, they will be able to test him for allergies and guide you through the process of narrowing down the ingredients until you get the best results.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you believe your dog may be suffering from a skin condition? Do you see them scratching themselves more often? Bring them to see us at Animal General today. We can examine them to determine if a skin issue is the cause.