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Nutrition & Diet for Dogs: How it Affects Skin Health

Many of us have heard the saying 'you are what you eat', and this extends to our canine companions as well. Here, our Nashua vets discuss dogs with poor diets, how the foods they eat affect their skin and fur and what you can do if you see the signs of nutritional deficiencies.

How do your dog's nutrition and the foods they eat impact their skin?

A dog's skin, along with its coat, makes up 12% of its body weight. This is why they need a lot of nutrients to keep their skin and coat healthy. If a dog doesn't get enough nutrients, their skin and coat won't be healthy. This can cause dryness, irritation, and a dull or patchy coat. So, giving your dog a good diet is important to keep their skin and coat healthy.

How can my dog's diet make a difference in their skin and fur?

When your dog is experiencing a condition affecting their health, there is a good chance that there will be some noticeable impact from the outside, such as in the appearance of their skin and fur.

The most common skin problems in dogs are:

  • Allergy (including flea bites and atopic dermatitis)
  • Skin cancers
  • Bacterial skin infection
  • Seborrhea (greasy skin or dry, flaky skin)
  • Parasites (e.g., demodectic mange)
  • Food hypersensitivity / intolerance
  • Immune-medicated skin disease
  • Hormone-related skin diseases

In cases where a food allergy is not present, your dog may still experience skin issues related to their diet.

When it comes to people, you are what you eat is a common phrase indicating the relationship between food and your general health and appearance. This saying could be extended to dogs and other animals as well. 

A nutritional deficiency can greatly impact both your dog's skin and coat.  This can happen both with homemade dog foods that aren't professionally formulated and with low-quality commercial dog foods.

What problems can occur if a dog's diet is not good?

Poor skin conditions can show up in various ways, with some of the most common symptoms being:

  • Dry, dull hair with 'split ends'
  • 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

Other Issues Related to Poor Nutrition in Dogs

A dog's skin and coat may suffer if they lack essential nutrients in their diet or if they have a dermatological allergy caused by certain ingredients in their food. If your dog shows symptoms of skin issues, it could be due to an allergic reaction to something in their diet rather than a lack of nutrition.

If you think your dog is getting enough nutrition, but still has skin problems, talk to your vet. They can examine your dog and determine the cause of their skin issues. They will help you find the best food for your dog's health and recommend treatments and therapies, like acupuncture, to help address any skin discomfort.

Acupuncture to Treat Skin Issues

Skin conditions such as allergies, dermatitis, hot spots, and itching. are a problem for many dogs. By stimulating specific acupuncture points, your veterinarian can use this holistic practice to help alleviate itching, relieve redness, and soothe your dog's irritated skin. Additionally, acupuncture can help regulate the immune system, which plays a crucial role in many skin disorders.

This ancient form of medicine is based on the philosophy that illness is caused by an imbalance of vital energies in the body. In modern terms, acupuncture can help by improving blood flow, which boosts oxygenation in tissues.

At Animal Hospital of Nashua, we feel that we can obtain the best results by using acupuncture as a supplement to medical therapy to help restore your pet's health and vitality.

Learn more about our acupuncture services

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.

If your dog is itching and scratching or you are otherwise concerned about skin-related symptoms they may be experiencing, please get in touch with our team in Nashua to schedule an appointment.

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