Your dog’s skin and hair aren’t just nice to pet — they play an important role in keeping your pup healthy and comfortable. They prevent water and heat from leaving your pup’s body, plus they help keep viruses and bacteria out. One of the best ways to make sure your dog’s skin and coat are in the best possible condition is by paying close attention to what you put in their food bowl.
Nutrients like protein, fat, vitamins and minerals can all impact your dog’s skin and coat health. Your dog’s coat is made up almost entirely of protein. If their diet doesn’t contain enough quality protein, your dog’s hair might fall out or become dry, weak and brittle.
Likewise, their skin is made up of tightly packed flat cells with tough membranes made of proteins and fats. Without proper amounts of these nutrients, the cell membranes can weaken, allowing water to escape and bacteria and viruses to enter more easily.
Make sure your dog is getting the following nutrients to help keep their coat and skin healthy. And keep in mind that IAMS™ dog foods contain an optimal blend of these nutrients to support your dog’s skin and coat health.
Nutrients Your Dog Needs for Healthy Skin and Hair
Essential Amino Acids
Proteins are found in both animal-and plant-based ingredients. However, animal-based proteins contain all the essential amino acids dogs need, while plant-based proteins might not contain enough of some essential amino acids.
Fats also are found in both animal-and plant-based ingredients and are incorporated into skin cells as fatty acids. In particular, linoleic acid plays an important role in a dog’s skin and coat health. Without enough linoleic acid, dogs might have a dull and dry coat or experience hair loss, greasy skin or skin inflammation.
Linoleic acid is found in chicken fat and vegetable oils such as corn and soybean oils. IAMS™ research has also found that the fatty acids in vitamin-rich fish oils help promote excellent skin and coat health.
Vitamins and Minerals
Your dog needs vitamins and minerals for healthy skin and a healthy coat, too. The best way to provide these nutrients is by feeding a complete and balanced diet full of essential vitamins and minerals, rather than giving them supplements.
Here’s how vitamins and minerals help keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy:
|Vitamin or Mineral||Importance to Skin and Coat Health|
|Vitamin A||Aids in skin growth and repair|
|Vitamin E||Protects skin cells from oxidant damage|
|Vitamin C||Helps heal wounds|
|Biotin||Aids in the utilization of protein|
|Riboflavin (B2)||Helps your dog metabolize fat and protein|
|Zinc||Helps your dog metabolize fat and protein|
Involved in tissue, pigment and protein synthesis
What Causes Changes in a Dog’s Coat Condition?
Changes in diet can lead to changes in your dog’s skin and coat condition, but the most common causes 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 warms up, they shed their thick, heavy coat.
Most puppies are born with soft, fuzzy hair, but as they age, they grow a coarser coat. Pregnant or nursing dogs also might experience a change in coat condition or hair loss. And, just like humans, a dog’s hair might thin out and become coarser and white as they reach their mature years.
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Does your mature dog sniff at his bowl and walk away instead of digging in? You may think he’s just being picky, but it’s important to keep an eye on how much he’s eating — especially if he’s a senior. While age-related diminishment of the senses of smell and taste may account for some of his disinterest in food, appetite loss can also indicate a serious medical problem.
“It’s important to give your dog enough calories because weight loss can be debilitating to senior pets,” says Wendy Brooks, D.V.M., who warns that a loss in appetite should be mentioned to your vet. A good rule of thumb: If your pet hasn’t eaten in a day, make a visit to the vet. Here are six ways to entice your canine friend with a nourishing meal.
6 Ways to Encourage Your Senior Dog to Eat More
1. Mix Dry Food with Moist Food
Many animals find canned food more palatable because they like the taste and texture, Brooks says. You can top their favorite dry food with room-temperature wet food.
2. Warm It Up
Dogs like a warm or room-temperature (not hot or cold) meal. Avoid serving him day-old wet food from the refrigerator, and keep his food away from heat. Another reason he might not be eating: It's too hot outside.
3. Try a Change
Dogs prefer consistency when it comes to their food. Don't change every day, but try a new flavor, such as lamb or chicken, and see if he responds (it may trigger his sense of smell). To avoid an upset stomach, introduce a new food by mixing it with his old food in equal increments each day.
4. Stay Close
Common mature-dog health issues, such as arthritis or joint pain, can make it difficult for him to access his bowls. Keep food and water where he spends most of his time. Put a water bowl on all floors of the house, too.
5. Keep the Fresh Water Flowing
Older pets are at a higher risk of dehydration. Provide a clean bowl with fresh water at all times. It will help prevent disease, such as a kidney condition, and aid in digestion.
6. Offer Praise
Dogs are people pleasers. If you see him eating, give him a little verbal reward. He'll know it makes you happy and will repeat the behavior.
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