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Dog Nutrition for a Healthy Coat

Experts offer diet tips to keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy.
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Omega-6 for Dog Coat Care continued...

Vegetable oils are also a source of omega-6 fatty acids. Pet stores sell omega-6 supplements, but “honestly, sunflower oil or safflower oil works fine,” Logas says. For a small dog, stir in one teaspoon of oil per meal, she says. For a large dog, give one tablespoon per meal.

Just make sure that the oil is fresh, because oils that are kept too long can go rancid and become less effective, Logas says.

The same goes for dog food that contains essential fatty acids, which can oxidize when exposed to air. “You don’t want to have dog food open and around for months and months,” Logas says.

Omega-3 for Dog Coat Care

Omega-3 fatty acids can also help dogs with skin disorders.

“Omega-3’s have other beneficial effects for skin problems,” Logas says. “They have very good anti-inflammatory effects, so we use them for dogs that have allergies or other inflammatory skin diseases.”

Flaxseed oil and fish oil are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. To relieve itching or inflamed skin, owners should look for supplements that contain EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

Supplements come in liquid or capsule form. Brooks says that she prefers the liquid form, because it gives more flexibility in dosing. Logas likes capsules, because they protect oils from oxidation that happens during exposure to air.

But if dogs refuse to take capsules, some brands have snip tops that allow owners to cut the capsule and pour the oil onto food.

Be careful not to give too many fatty acid supplements, Logas says. Excessive amounts can be “too rich,” she says, and dogs may have upset stomachs and vomiting.

A dog’s skin and coat should improve about six weeks after starting omega-3 supplementation, Brooks says.

Other Supplements for Healthy Skin and Coat

Pet stores stock a variety of other supplements that claim to improve skin and coat health. Brewer’s yeast and garlic were once believed to be natural flea repellents, Logas says. But "it really doesn’t have any effect," she says.

In fact, she cautions against overdoing the supplements. Perhaps as a reflection of human interest in consuming vitamins, “people want to add in a lot of other vitamins” for their pets, too, Logas says. “Really, there’s not a lot of evidence that it does much to help just a dog who has more or less a normal coat.”

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