Treating a Dog with Dry Skin through Nutrition

To relieve dog dry skin, improving nutrition can be an effective alternative to drugs or medical treatment. With the right dog food and vitamin supplements, skin and hair problems can be treated safely and with few side effects while benefiting your dog's overall health as well.

Causes of Dry Skin

A dog with dry skin may have an underlying health problem such as a bacterial or fungal infection, may carry parasites, suffer from allergies caused by insect bites, an inhalant or a food ingredient, or lack the right nutrients in his diet.

Signs that your dog has skin problems include dry and flaky skin, dandruff, red patches, inflammation, lesions, a dull and dry coat, excessive itching, scratching and biting, and hair loss. Talk to your veterinarian before starting any new diets or supplements, or to address any potential underlying health problems that cause dry skin.

The Right Diet for Canine Dry Skin

Many dogs are not getting the best nutrients in their diets due to the large amount of carbohydrates and fillers that often make up the main ingredients in commercial dog foods. Protein, fat, vitamins and minerals and some healthy carbohydrates should be a part of your dog's daily nutrition, and all of these nutrients should come from quality ingredients.

Protein is the most important ingredient in the diet because of necessary amino acids in proteins. On dog food labels it is important to check that meat sources are named first in the ingredient list such as chicken, beef and lamb. Vitamins and minerals should also be included in a dog's diet, though supplements are also available.

Fats are also important and essential parts of canine nutrition, especially if your dog has skin and hair problems. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can improve skin and coat, allowing dogs to resist infection and disease and even reduce the effects of allergies. The current recommended ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is now between 10 to 1 and 5 to 1 so check food and supplements labels and discuss dosage amounts with your veterinarian. Good sources of fatty acids include sunflower oil and fish oil, which both have high amounts of omega-6 and omega-3. Beef fat also contains omega-3 and omega-6 but in lower quantities.

Allergies and Dry Skin

The right diet that contains enough fats or a proper supplement containing fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6 may prevent and treat symptoms of allergies due to inhalants like pollen or dust, also known as atopy. Fatty acids work with the skin to ease the effects of histamines, which are chemicals that cause irritations during an allergic reaction and can cause itching, flaking, inflammation and dry skin.

Food allergies can also be a source of skin problems like itchy and dry skin around the face, forelegs, anus and beneath the arms. Carbohydrates and fillers like corn and wheat by-products are often the cause of food allergies in dogs. Talk with your veterinarian about all-natural food or conducting a food trial to determine what is causing the allergic reactions and dry skin.