Dog Food Supplements for Dry Skin

Dog food supplements can help improve the look and condition of your pet’s skin. Let’s examine how supplements can help your dog’s skin and review what benefits some of the most common food supplements provide so you’ll know which ones may help your dog look and feel better.

Why Your Dog May Need Supplements

Although your dog should receive all the nutrients he needs to maintain skin and coat health from his diet, the food you’re feeding him may not contain enough fatty acids or antioxidants to keep his skin healthy. In other cases, the change of seasons from fall to winter and the increasing heat levels in your home can lead to dry skin in both pets and people. Dogs with atopic allergies may benefit from fatty acid supplementation as part of their overall treatment plan.

There are a few side effects to be aware of with fatty acid supplements. In rare cases, your dog could develop pancreatitis, an inflammation of his pancreas. A more common side effect is the possibility of weight gain, so you may have to adjust his diet accordingly to prevent him from gaining too much weight while he takes the supplements. Diarrhea may also be a short-term side effect as your dog’s body adjusts to the supplements.

The Benefits of Fatty Acids

Fatty acids, such as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, are found in some plants and marine fishes. They help heal your dog’s skin if he’s prone to bouts of endless scratching. They also can help improve the condition of your dog’s coat, and they may help prevent cancer, heart disease, joint problems and autoimmune diseases.

Omega-3 fatty acids can be found under a variety of names, including alpha linolenic acid, or ALA; docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA; and eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA. Omega-6 fatty acids also come in several varieties, including arachidonic acid, or AA; dihomogamma linolenic acid, or DGLA; gamma linolenic acid, or GLA; and linoleic acid, or LA.

Dogs that suffer from allergies or have irritated skin may benefit from supplements that contain high levels of DHA, EPA or GLA, while atopic dogs may benefit from a combination of fatty acid supplements, antihistamines and a short-term course of glucorticoids.

Veterinarians routinely recommend a 9- to 12-week course of treatment with fatty acid supplements to give them the best chance of helping your dog’s skin heal.

Antioxidants and Bioflavinoids: Other Beneficial Supplements

Antioxidants, such as vitamins A and E, can help improve your dog’s skin condition. They may also help prevent allergic skin problems in sensitive dogs. Bioflavinoids, such as ginko biloba, grape seed extract or coenzyme C10, may help your dog’s skin cells heal more quickly.

How to Add Supplements to Your Dog’s Diet

You can supplement your dog’s diet by giving him capsules containing his necessary supplements daily, or by adding the liquid from the capsules to his food. The amount of supplement your dog needs is usually based on his weight, but read the instructions on the product you choose thoroughly to determine the correct dosage and the frequency of administration.