The Nutrients Your Dog Needs for a Healthy Coat and Skin
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Nutrients like protein, fat, vitamins and minerals are vital to the skin and coat health of dogs. Your dog’s coat is made up almost entirely of protein. If his diet doesn’t contain enough protein quantity and quality, hair might fall out or become dry, weak and brittle. Likewise, his skin is made up of tightly packed flat cells with tough membranes made of proteins and fats. Without proper amounts of these nutrients, the cell membranes weaken, allowing water to escape and bacteria and viruses to enter more easily.
Make sure your dog is getting the following nutrients to keep his coat and skin healthy.
NUTRIENTS FOR HEALTHY SKIN AND HAIR IN DOGS
ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS
Proteins are found in both animal-based and plant-based ingredients. However, animal-based proteins contain all the essential amino acids dogs need, whereas plant-based proteins might not contain enough of some essential amino acids.
Fats also are found in both animal- and plant-based ingredients and are incorporated into skin cells as fatty acids. In particular, linoleic acid is essential for a dog’s skin and coat health. Without enough linoleic acid, dogs might experience a dull and dry coat, hair loss, greasy skin and increased susceptibility to skin inflammation.
Linoleic acid is found in chicken fat and vegetable oils (such as corn and soybean). IAMS™ research has also found that the fatty acids in vitamin-rich fish oils help promote excellent skin and coat health.
VITAMINS AND MINERALS
Your dog needs vitamins and minerals for a healthy skin and coat. The best way to provide these nutrients is by feeding a complete and balanced diet full of essential vitamins and minerals, rather than giving him supplements.
Vitamin or Mineral Importance to Skin and Coat Health
Vitamin A Necessary for growth and repair of skin
Vitamin E Protects skin cells from oxidant damage
Vitamin C Helps heal wounds
Biotin Aids in the utilization of protein
Riboflavin (B2) Necessary for fat and protein metabolism
Zinc Necessary for fat and protein metabolism
Copper Involved in tissue, pigment, and protein synthesis
WHAT CAUSES CHANGES IN A DOG’S COAT CONDITION?
Diet can be a factor when changes in skin and coat condition occur, but the most common causes are season and life stage. As cold weather approaches, most dogs grow a thick coat to help keep heat in and cold air out. As the weather warms up, they shed their thick, heavy coat.
Most puppies are born with soft, fuzzy hair, but as they age, a coarser coat grows. Pregnant or nursing dogs also might experience a change in coat condition or hair loss. And, as with humans, a dog’s hair might thin out and become coarser and white as he reaches his mature years.
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- adp_description_block497Nutrition for Large- and Giant-Breed Adult Dogs
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Healthy joints and proper weight are especially important for dogs that grow to be more than 50 pounds. But not all large- and giant-breed adult dogs have the same nutritional needs. Is your dog getting proper exercise? Is she about to have puppies? Special conditions can dramatically affect your dog’s nutritional demands. Giving her a food specially formulated for her large size, life stage and activity level is the easiest way to make sure she’s getting the nutrients she needs.
Choosing a Food for Overall Health
To address the special needs of your large- or giant-breed dog, look for these features:
- Less fat to help maintain an ideal body condition for less joint stress
- Vitamin-rich fish oils for healthy skin, shiny coat and overall health
- Essential vitamins and minerals to help support the immune system and help maintain good health
- High-quality animal-based protein sources to help maintain muscle tone
- A moderately fermentable fiber source, such as beet pulp, to maintain intestinal health, enhance your dog's ability to absorb nutrients, and reduce backyard cleanup
- A carbohydrate blend to help sustain energy by maintaining normal blood sugar levels
These components are key to good nutrition. Look for them in treats, wet dog food, or dry dog food, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Adult Large Breed.
Maintaining Healthy Joints and Cartilage
Joint health is a big concern for owners of large- and giant-breed dogs. A large- or giant-breed formula that contains high-quality protein can help nourish healthy joints. Vitamins and minerals help promote the production of cartilage. Also, keeping your dog at a healthy weight will help minimize joint stress.
Guarding Against Weight Gain
Dogs with lower activity levels and dogs that have been neutered or spayed are all prone to weight gain. Controlling your dog’s weight is an important step toward protecting against the health effects of excess weight, such as diabetes or joint health problems. If you use a weight-management food, look for these characteristics:
- A reduced fat level that still offers essential nutrients for skin and coat health
- L-carnitine, a key nutrient that helps burn fat and maintain muscle mass during weight loss
- Special carbohydrate blends that help maintain energy while managing weight
- Vitamin-rich fish oils for overall health
Providing Nutrition During Pregnancy
Pregnant dogs have substantial nutrition requirements. Starting in the seventh week of her pregnancy, a mother dog will need to increase her energy intake up to 50% by the time she gives birth and increase it even more when she starts nursing her puppies. Because she may lose her appetite at times, it's important that she eats a nutrient-dense food. A complete, balanced puppy formula can give her the extra nutrients she needs. But avoid puppy food created for large and giant breeds; these formulas contain specially adjusted levels of energy and minerals that may not be sufficient for a pregnant or nursing dog.
Switching to a Mature Diet
Dogs who grow to be more than 50 pounds are considered mature or senior at age 5 or 6, which is earlier than small-breed dogs. So, it’s critical to make a proactive transition to a specially formulated mature diet, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Mature Adult Large Breed, to help keep your dog healthy and active as she ages.
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