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Why Nutrition Is Important for Healthy Skin and Coat
Why Nutrition Is Important for Healthy Skin and Coat

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Why Nutrition Is Important for Healthy Skin and Coat

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Nutrients such as protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals are important players in the skin and coat health of dogs. To understand the role of these nutrients, it is necessary to start by understanding skin and hair.
 

The purpose of skin and hair is to block things from leaving (such as water or heat) or entering (such as viruses and bacteria) the body.
 

The hair coat is composed almost entirely of protein. If the animal's diet doesn't contain adequate protein quantity and quality, hair may fall out, or become dry, weak and brittle.
 

Skin is made up of squamous cells, flat cells tightly packed together. These cells have tough membranes that are composed 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 for Dogs

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 can also be found in both animal-based and plant-based ingredients. They are incorporated into skin cells as fatty acids. There are two essential fatty acids for skin and coat health. Linoleic acid maintains skin and coat condition in dogs. Without enough linoleic acid dogs may experience dull, dry coat, hair loss, greasy skin and increased susceptibility to skin inflammation.
 

Both of these essential fatty acids are omega-6 fatty acids and are found in animal tissues like chicken fat. Linoleic acid is also found in some vegetable oils, such as corn and soybean oils.
 

Most commercial dog diets contain more than adequate amounts of omega-6 fatty acids. Because these fatty acids can be converted to compounds that increase susceptibility to skin inflammation, it is important to balance the amount of omega-6 fatty acids in the diet with omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce susceptibility to inflammation.
 

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in oils from fish and some plants (canola and flax).
 

IAMS research has found that combining fat sources in the diet at a ratio of 5-10 omega-6 fatty acids to 1 omega-3 fatty acid results in excellent skin and coat health.

 

 

Vitamins and Minerals That Dogs Need

Vitamins and minerals are essential for the development of healthy skin and hair coat. The best way to provide these nutrients is through a complete and balanced diet containing appropriate amounts of essential vitamins and minerals rather than through 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
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 is often believed to be a factor when changes in skin and coat condition are noticed. The most common causes of these changes, however, 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 lactating 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 senior years.

  • Choosing the Right Dog Food
    Choosing the Right Dog Food
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    Choosing the Right Dog Food

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    Author: Dr. Diah Pawitri
     

    When visiting the store, dog owners can get overwhelmed by the array of dog food options available, from dry kibble to canned wet food and more. These processed foods may not be appealing to humans, but they contain all the nutrients that dogs need to stay healthy. Like humans, dogs also need a variety of nutrients from their food, not just from meat as their main diet, but also from grains, vegetables, and fruits. This kind of balance is usually weighed by pet food labels in kibbles or wet food in grams for different types of dogs. 
     

    For optimum health, dogs need food that is tailored and customized to their life stages, starting from when they are puppies and all the way into adulthood. Puppies have completely different nutrient needs compared to adult dogs as they are still in their early stages of life. They need enough nutrients to fuel a speedy growth, especially after transitioning away from their mother's milk. Puppies require complete and balanced nutrition with protein to help build their tissues, fats or healthy skin, hair, brain, and vision, carbohydrates for energy, vitamins, minerals, and water.

    The need for balanced nutrients in puppies starts with the mother during pregnancy, followed by lactation and growth. Sufficient nourishment for the mother is pivotal in enhancing the puppies’ growth inside the womb and preparing them for life after birth. Both mother and puppy should receive well-proportioned antioxidants, DHA, and prebiotics to support their health and growth as provided by the IAMS product line, which contains DHA that is essential for puppies' brain development while also supporting the mother's pregnancy and quality of milk produced. 
     

    While puppies need the primary nutrients for growth, adult dog food has a different level of complexity. Adult dog food requires the same make-up of nutrients as puppies do but tailored to their specific needs. Recent research indicates that an adult dog requires at least 10% of its daily calories from protein and at least 5.5% from fat. Adult dogs need quality protein for firm muscles and a healthy immune system. Additionally, an adult diet can contain up to 50% carbohydrates, with fiber ranging from 2.5 to 4.5%. There is no specific prescribed amount of fibre for adult dog consumption daily, however, it is still one of the most important components in dog food to address constipation and support a healthy weight.
     

    Adult dogs in their prime also require a balance in antioxidants to reduce systemic inflammation and restore active muscles. They should receive Vitamin E and C to support their immune system, joint health, and prevent inflammation. As they grow older, they may be exposed to different diseases from diabetes to cancers, which can be prevented by polyphenols.  Parents to adult dogs must acknowledge the most suitable food for their loved one that is comprised of the right amount of nutrients and can look to the IAMS line as they are formulated to support healthy bones and joint health, scientifically proven for healthy digestion with a good fibre and prebiotic blend, as well as antioxidants for a strong immune system.
     

    Besides life stage, balanced nutrition should be adjusted to their breed, which give insight to different factors like weight, mouth size, and energy level. This will then determine the type of kibble and food given. Smaller breeds tend to be more active, requiring the same essential nutrients and prebiotics for a healthy body as well as smaller-sized kibble designed specifically for their smaller mouths. As smaller dogs relatively have a high metabolism, higher levels of protein, fat, and essential fatty acids like omega 3 and omega 6 are some of the important nutrients that should be available in their food. On the other hand, larger breeds require foods that are lower in fat and calories, contain slightly lower levels of calcium and phosphorus, and have a specific balance of calcium-to-phosphorus ratio to support stronger bones and muscles.  Owners can look to products like the small breed line from IAMS, containing 7 essential nutrients to build strong muscles, support their tiny immune system while protecting their healthy skin and coat, and the product line for adults for large breeds.
     

    Dog parents must acknowledge and understand the unique needs, life stage and characteristics in their dog to choose the right dog food so their furry ones can grow into their healthiest selves. Make sure to visit your vet regularly to check these components as well!