A dog's diet can significantly impact the quality of their skin and coat. In this post, our Austin veterinarians explain how your dog's nutrition and the health of their coat and skin are connected.

How Nutrition Affects Your Dog's Skin & Coat

The largest organ on your dog's body is their skin. combined with their coat, it makes up 12% of the average dog's body weight. This is why a dog's skin and coat need so many nutrients to maintain their health. 

Therefore, it's logical to conclude that the quality of your dog's skin and coat depends on their daily diet. Dogs that don't receive enough nutrients aren't able to supply their skin with the key elements to maintain its own health. In these circumstances, the coat may look patchy or dull, and they may have dry or irritated skin. 

A nutritional deficiency often occur when a dog is fed a homemade diet over a long period of time, or if they are given poor quality commercial dry food, a commercial dry food that contains excessive nutrients, or if a commercial diet is supplemented inappropriately. 

How does poor nutrition affect my dog's skin? 

If your dog's diet is deficient in nutrients, this may lead to the degradation or destruction of the sebum, the biofilm that naturally sits on the outside of your dog's skin.

Similar to humans, a healthy dog's skin naturally secretes this substance, which forms a protective layer atop the skin, protecting it from bacteria and debris and maintaining its moisture. 

When your dog's skin doesn't receive the nutritional ingredients it needs to maintain the sebum, the skin can harbor bacteria and become infected, irritated, and uncomfortable. Left untreated, this can impact your dog's overall health. 

Bulldogs, pugs, and some other breeds are more prone to sin infections due to folds in their skin that aren't as exposed to air and can become a haven for more bacteria. Maintaining a proper diet to help them naturally defend themselves against these parasites is even more important than in other breeds. 

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

Poor skin condition can reveal itself in a number of ways. The most common symptoms are:

  • Dry, dull hair with “split ends”
  • Greasy skin 
  • Dandruff
  • Inelastic or hyperpigmented skin 
  • 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?

While nutritional deficiencies are the most direct way that a dog's diet may negatively impact their skin and coat, your dog may also display symptoms of skin issues if they have a dermatological allergy. In cases like this, rather than being caused by what isn't in your dog's food, their body's response is caused by what is in your dog's food (due to the dietary allergen). 

Some dogs have dietary allergies to specific ingredients in foods and, if this is the case, they may begin to display quite similar symptoms to those listed above. If you suspect that your dog is not getting all of the nutritional value they need from their daily diet, contact your vet as soon as possible. They will be able to examine your pup, test them for allergies and walk you through the steps of narrowing down ingredients until you find a food that works best for your dog's health and well-being.

If required, we can also refer you to a board-certified veterinary dermatologist for further diagnostics and treatment. 

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.

Are you concerned about the condition of your dog's skin or coat? Contact Northwest Austin Veterinary Center today to book an exam for your canine companion.