The skin and the coat are the mirror of your dog’s health. It is your dog’s largest organ.
There are many reasons why your dog has a skin or hair problem. It can often be frustrating and take quite a lot of detective work to pinpoint what is causing the problems but it is essential that a final diagnosis be found before treatment begins. This is a time to be patient with your vet.
When nutritional deficiency is the issue, a good diet combined with appropriate supplements is the first priority. The skin constantly rejuvenates itself and therefore uses a large part of the nutrients that you feed your dog. When an optimal diet is fed, improvement is often seen within a short period of time. In some cases, such as with zinc responsive dermatosis in Siberian Huskies, signs may not respond to one particular zinc supplementation in which case another zinc form, such as zinc gluconate, zinc sulfate or zinc methionine should be used.
In the case of an adverse reaction to foods things are not that easy. Skin and blood testing for food allergies are unreliable. Considering all the possible causes and limited diagnostics available, any dog suspected of having an adverse reaction to food should be fed an elimination diet. The principle of an elimination diet is based on feeding a single protein and a single carbohydrate to which the dog has not been previously exposed. Improvement in clinical signs is usually observed within 4 weeks but may take longer after which new foods and supplements are introduced slowly, one at a time, and the dogs response is closely monitored until you reach a balanced diet.
Adding certain supplements can be very helpful. In the case of skin and coat disease, one of the best supplements to add to your dog’s diet is salmon oil. The Omega 3 fatty acids from fish oil exhibit multiple anti-inflammatory and immuno-modulating effects. If your dog is on antibiotics, acidophilus, a probiotic, can help replace the flora and fauna that are lost due to antibiotic use. Acidophilus also help fight allergic conditions and improve the immune system. Antioxidants and vitamins for the immune system and healthy skin, include Vitamin C, Vitamin E and B complex.