At Innovet Pet, every day we hear from dog owners, like yourself, who are looking for help at improving their pup’s health. One of the biggest areas we get questions about is skin & coat health. We frequently get questions about how to improve coat quality, how to help dry skin, and see a ton of questions looking for help with canine allergies.
The last question brings up an important point, healthy skin and coat doesn’t just mean a great-looking appearance. Your dog’s skin and coat play significant roles in their overall health. Today we’re exploring those roles, common skin & coat issues, signs of them, and how we can keep our dogs’ skin & coat in tip-top shape.
While the health of your dog’s coat is important, it doesn’t compare to the importance of them having healthy skin. In fact, issues that affect the coat often occur due to an issue with the skin.
The Skin’s Role In A Dog’s Health
The skin’s role in your dog’s health is incredible and is without a doubt, one of the most vital components of their body and its overall health. Not only is it their body’s largest organ, but it’s also the first line of defense against a swarm of nasties. Essentially, the skin is the barrier between the vital organs and a harsh environment full of parasites, infection-causing bacteria, and dangerous chemicals.
The skin also helps dogs regulate their body temperature, preventing moisture loss, and synthesizes vitamin D. Vitamin D — which they absorb by licking their fur — is involved in everything from regulating inflammation to building strong bones. The epidermis of the skin is a reservoir for water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and electrolytes. Finally, the skin is the sensory organ that allows the perception of temperature, touch, and pain.
Wow, that’s a lot of things, but this shows us something really important. The state of your dog’s skin is often a good indicator of the state of their health. Often we can see the early signs of an internal issue because it harms the skin. For example, a hormonal imbalance can cause the skin to change colors.
Skin Problems In Dogs
Since the outside world has direct access to your dog’s skin, it’s left susceptible to disease and injuries. Dry and cracked skin isn’t just unsightly and unpleasant to touch, it also creates an opening where parasites, bacteria, and allergens can easily get it.
Things like these frequently trigger excessive scratching that tears at the skin, causing a domino effect, making everything worse. This all puts undue stress on the immune system promoting it to overreact to allergens and create excess inflammation.
Poor Skin Health Can Lead To Several Issues:
- Itchy Skin
- Hot Spots
- Hair Loss
- Greasy coat
- Yeast infections
Signs Of A Skin Condition
All dogs can experience skin issues, so it’s important that all pet owners know the signs. However, breeds such as bulldogs and pugs that have floppy skin are prone to them. As well, breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, and Pinchers have been noticed at being high-risk for skin issues.
Signs of a skin condition include:
- Dry/cracked skin
- Rough skin
- Skin changes color
- Excessive scratching
- Hair loss
How To Support Your Dog’s Skin
There are a number of things you can do to give your dog healthier skin, so we put together a list of our four favorite things.
Omega Fatty Acids
Essential omega acids like omega 3s are commonly found in fish, where omega 6s are commonly found in seeds and nuts. Supplementation of them is popular due to the range of benefits they bring with them. When it comes to the skin, they help restore oils that protect and seal it. As well, they can reduce inflammation of the skin that causes redness, bumps, itching, and sores.
While CBD started as an aid to help reduce muscle convulsions, it’s now being used for everything from anxiety to excess inflammation. We learned above, it’s important to keep the immune system calm, so it doesn’t overwork itself. When overworked, the immune system can attack the internal organs along with the skin. Research shows CBD directly helps the immune system remain calm and balanced, making it popular for treating canine allergies.
Biotin, otherwise known as B7, helps the body synthesize certain nutrients like fatty acids, which we know are vital to good skin health. Studies show a deficiency in biotin can cause scaly red skin rashes, most likely due to poor fat metabolization.
Lecithin is made up of essential fats and creates a protective layer over the skin, which restores hydration. This is one of the reasons you see it in nearly every skincare product. Another reason is its powerful emulsifying properties that allow it to keep fats and oils separate from other substances.
Coat issues are often a result of a skin issue, but this isn’t always the case. Many owners find their dog has no issues with their skin, but their dog’s coat is coarse and dull. Let’s find out why that is, how we can help, and more.
The Coat’s Role In A Dog’s Health
Besides being a cozy blanket to cuddle up to, the biggest role of your dog’s coat is to help them regulate their internal temperature. It keeps them warm in the winter and cools them off in the summer. It’s why you never want to buzz off your dog’s coat.
As well, the coat functions as a warning sign that the dog is either scared or frightened by raising up on their back.
Coat Problems In Dogs
With the coat being a direct extension of the skin, diseases that affect it will commonly affect the coat. As well, a rough or coarse coat that may excessively shed can indicate a mineral or vitamin deficiency, usually relating to low consumption of fatty acids.
Common Issues That Affect The Coat:
- Hair loss
- Dull / lack of shine
- Excessive shedding
Signs Of A Skin Condition
All dogs can experience coat issues, though, like skin issues, some breeds are more prone to them. Dogs that have long hair or a lot of it like Collies or Siberian Huskies are more susceptible to coat issues.
Signs of a coat condition include:
- Rough or dry skin
- Change in coat texture
- Hair loss
- Excessive scratching
How You Can Take Care of Your Dog’s Coat
There are a number of things you can do to give your dog a healthier coat, so let’s check out our four favorite things.
A healthy coat starts with a nutritional and well-balanced diet. Some doggy parents have found switching to a grain-free or raw diet has helped improve their pup’s coat. But a traditional kibble diet that includes grains is fine as well.
There is a lot that goes into making complete dog food, and research into it is always progressing. As such, we are always fans of signing up for a dog food advisor website that regularly updates their list of best foods, and alerts you to issues like recalls.
To bathe or not to bathe, that is the question. Both excessive and infrequent bathings can cause coat issues. Excessive bathing strips oils from the coat, leaving it coarse and brittle. While infrequent bathings allow trapped dirt to build up making the coat greasy, smelly, and susceptible to infections.
You only need to bathe your dog about once every month or two, depending on how much time they spend outside.
Omega Fatty Acids
A lack of essential omega fatty acids in the diet is most commonly sighted as the reason a dog may not have the best coat. Omega-6 fatty acids help restore oils in the skin, improve shine, and invigorate it with luster. Omega-3 fatty acids help with a multitude of skin issues by reducing inflammation, which helps with excessive shedding and bald spots.
Taking Care of The Skin
With regular but not too regular bathings, a well-balanced diet, and some supplemental fatty acids, your dog’s coat will be in tip-top shape. To keep it that way, the last thing you should do is make sure you’re also supporting the skin. As we’ve seen, poor skin usually equals a poor coat.
Final Words On Supporting Your Dog’s Skin & Coat
While skin and coat issues are some of the most frequent problems we hear about, we have found that there are three key things pet owners can do to pretty much wipe them out.
A well-balanced diet, proper bathing/grooming, and some kind of skin & coat aid.
As we’ve seen, there are several different supplements from CBD to fatty acids to biotin for helping support both the skin and coat. That’s why we decided to create a new Skin & Coat Chew that incorporates them and several other potent aids together. It’s designed to help with current skin issues your dog may be having and takes preventive measures, so they never occur again.
By taking care of your pup’s skin and coat, you’re taking a key step in keeping them healthy for years to come. Not only are you making them look great, but you’re also making them feel great!