The skin is the largest organ of the body and the very first sign of health you see when you look at a dog. Pups with shiny, lustrous coats just give off an air of wellness compared to those with dull, flaky, brittle hair and skin.
Not only is dry skin unsightly, it’s also itchy and uncomfortable for your dog. Although soothing baths can help, healthy skin really starts from within with proper vitamins and nutrition.
If you find yourself battling your dog’s dry, itchy skin and coat – especially in the winter months – here are 6 solutions that can help bring back that healthy shine and vitality.
1. Filtered Water/Moist Food
Encouraging your dog to ingest more fluids can be a simple way to improve skin hydration. Make sure there is plenty of fresh, cool, filtered water available at all times. If your pooch isn’t a big drinker, try adding water, high quality canned food or homemade recipes to regular dog food.
You probably think of digestive problems when you hear the term “probiotic,” and you’re right, these products are intended to increase the number of healthy enzymes in the gut to improve digestion. Better skin texture is just a happy side effect of the process. A healthy digestive system is able to readily absorb fluids, improving hydration and increasing the moisture levels of the skin and coat.
3. Sesame Seed Oil
Many of the seeds we use in cooking contain natural oils that do wonders for the skin, including flaxseed, pumpkin seed and black sesame seed. But sesame seed tops them all. Black sesame seeds contain up to 55% fatty oil with approximately 37% linoleic acid – a crucial ingredient for skin regeneration and healing. Also, the vitamin E content in sesame seeds is the highest in all plant-based foods.
Antioxidants protect the skin by limiting the damage caused by free radicals. An excellent source of natural antioxidants – as well as iron and zinc – can be found in polygonum root.
5. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The omega-3 essential fatty acids, EPA and DHA (or eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid) can do wonders for your dog’s skin. Pups naturally produce omega-3’s in small amounts, but high quality fish oil supplements like those containing krill oil, anchovy oil and whole cell algae have proven to vastly improve skin health.
EPA is a known anti-inflammatory that promotes a shiny, healthy coat, and reduces shedding, dandruff and itchy skin. DHA is more well-known for promoting brain development, but it is also a vital structural component in skin cells.
6. Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Many fish oil supplements leave out an extremely beneficial ingredient. The omega-6 fatty acid, GLA (gamma linolenic acid) has been shown to be one of the most effective agents for the treatment of skin disorders and for the maintenance of healthy skin. Barage oil and primrose oil are two of the best sources for GLA. When choosing a fish oil supplement for your dog, be sure to check the label for EPA, DHA and GLA!
**If your dog is itching to the point of sores on the skin, seek veterinary attention. You could be dealing with more than just dryness.
Featured Image via Flickr/Tony Alter