Amanda was raised with dogs and has kept dogs all her life. "Dogs aren't just pets," she says, "They're workmates, friends, and family."
Skin and Coat Problems in Dogs
All dogs love having their owners stroke and pet them, as much as their owners love to show their affection. It's okay if your dog has healthy skin and a clean, lustrous coat. But what can you do if his skin becomes flaky and sore and his fur dull and loose?
While simple interventions you can do at home, such as adjustments to your dog's diet and exercise regime, may help, if you're in any doubt about his well-being, you should always seek the professional advice of a qualified pet nutritionist or veterinary doctor.
But if he's otherwise healthy and well, your first port of call is probably to look at what and how much he's eating and drinking and how much outdoor exercise he's getting. Then you may wish to consider boosting his diet temporarily with carefully chosen supplements. But as always, if you're at all uncertain, don't risk it, take him to the vet.
With that caveat in mind, the following advice should help you understand what's troubling your dog and what steps you can take to make sure he's as happy and as healthy as can be.
Is Your Dog Getting Enough Nutrients and Water?
If a dog's skin or coat is in poor condition, the problem usually lies in his diet. Make sure he's getting all the nutrients he needs and plenty of water to keep him hydrated. If you're not sure you're giving him the right food, ask your vet for advice.
But if your dog enjoys a healthy, balanced diet and still has problems with his skin and fur, then he may need dietary supplements to bring him back into good condition.
The Secret of a Healthy Coat: Essential Fatty Acids
Your dog's diet should include healthy fats to keep his skin and pelt in excellent condition. Cheaper dog foods may not have all the nutrients your dog needs. A potential risk factor is a diet too low in natural fats.
While improving your dog's diet is the best way to help him back to health in the long-term, if he has poor skin and a dull coat, certain supplements can help speed his recovery.
Omega-6 and Omega-3 Supplements for Dogs
Clean, healthy skin and a lustrous coat of fur depend on your dog getting enough omega-6 fatty acids in his diet. Most vegetable oils, such as sunflower, safflower, and olive, contain omega-6 fatty acids. But storing and administering fresh fats can be problematic. Most pet stores sell omega-6 supplements for your dog. Just mix the recommended dose into his usual food.
While omega-6 supplements help bring life back to your dog's coat, omega-3 fatty acids are helpful in conditioning his skin. As with omega-6 supplements, follow the manufacturer's instructions to make sure your dog gets the correct dose.
Supplements for Itchy, Inflamed, Crusted, and Flaky Skin
If your dog's skin is itchy or inflamed, choose a supplement that also contains eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Zinc supplements help improve rough, crusted skin in dogs. Vitamin A can help with scaly skin or "dog dandruff." However, see your vet before you give fatty acid, zinc, or vitamin supplements to your dog to make sure you're making the right choices and providing the correct dose which will depend on your dog's age, size, and breed.
Liquids or Capsules?
Dietary supplements for dogs come either as liquids or in capsules. Which you choose depends on your dog. Some dogs won't eat food "contaminated" with liquid supplements, in which case, capsules are a better choice.
Top Tips for Giving Dietary Supplements to Your Dog
1. Always get your vet's advice before changing your dog's diet or giving supplements
2. Make sure you choose the right supplements for your dog's condition
3. Always read the labels carefully and follow the instructions
4. Don't give supplements without a good reason. A balanced, nutritious diet and plenty of exercise are usually all your dog needs
5. If you give your dog supplements, even those recommended by your vet, always monitor his health and condition carefully and take him back for a check-up if anything seems wrong
Can a Dog Overdose on Supplements?
Always follow your vet's advice and the manufacturer's guidelines when giving supplements to your dog. While "overdosing" on omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids won't harm your dog's overall health, it can cause stomach upsets and vomiting.
With the right supplement and correct dose, you should see a definite improvement in the health and condition of your dog's skin and coat within about six weeks of starting treatment.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2018 Amanda Littlejohn
Amanda Littlejohn (author) on October 28, 2018:
Thanks for your comment, Shelley.
Yes, on the face of it buying supplements seems logical and clear, but once you look into it, the subject is revealed to be more complex.
The main finding is that, except in exceptional circumstances and under veterinary supervision, it's at best pointless and costly to give your pet dietary supplements.
FlourishAnyway from USA on October 28, 2018:
Although I do t have a dog, I do understand that some sources of supplements have a very high markup and they make it hard to actually get supplements.