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By Latasha Ball
One of the many perks of being a pet parent is petting your dog’s luscious, furry coat. Because this is the most common way that we show our dog love and affection, any significant changes to their coat or skin can be identified almost immediately. If you’ve noticed that your dog’s fur isn’t as soft and silky as it once was, or if you notice your dog scratching at their skin and shedding more often than usual, it is likely that a change in their diet is the culprit.
Aside from maintaining a regular grooming routine, the food your dog eats plays a crucial role in the health of their skin, coat, and nails. Just like humans, your dog’s coat is made up of 90% protein. Therefore, when there is a deficiency in protein or other important nutrients, the quality of their fur naturally suffers.
As most pet parents are aware, every pet’s diet should be customized to suit their specific needs, factoring in the breed, age, and level of activity. While it’s always best to consult your veterinarian first on diet and food choice, it’s also helpful to be aware of the signs that your furry friend might not be getting the nutrients he needs from his current diet so you can take action as soon as possible.
Here are some key indicators that can help identify whether or not your dog is getting enough of the correct amount of nutrients, or if a change in their diet and amount of food intake is needed:
Dull Coat: The general condition of your dog’s coat is a great sign of their well-being.A healthy coat should be smooth and shiny, not coarse or brittle. If the condition of your dog’s coat does not improve with regular grooming, it is usually a sign of micronutrient deficiency.
Itchy/Flaky Skin: If you’ve noticed your dog scratching at their skin more often than usual, it might be due to a recent switch in dog foods or a sign that they are not getting the correct amount of nutrients. Appearance-wise, your dog’s skin should be clear and supple, with no flakes, grease, or bumps.
Brittle Nails: Brittle or cracked nails may result from a lack of essential vitamins and nutrients in your dog’s diet. If your dog’s toenails are cracking or breaking frequently, it might be a sign of vitamin or protein deficiency.
Despite these warning signs of a poor diet, changing up a few key ingredients in your dog’s diet can quickly improve their appearance. Be sure that quality protein is the main ingredient in their everyday food, and look for food and treats that are natural and contain hearty ingredients. For example, venison is a great option because it has more protein compared to other red meats. Similarly, appropriate quantities of omega-3 and omega-6 acids can help manage excessive shedding and skin irritation, as they support growth and protection. Always be sure to avoid common unhealthy ingredients in dog food, such as artificial coloring, corn syrup, and ‘by-product.’ By consuming the best ingredients possible, your dog’s coat is bound to improve, and more importantly, he or she will be on track to a healthier, happier life.
Latasha Ball is the Marketing Coordinator for Pets Global, the founders of pet food brands Zignature, Essence Pet Foods and Fussie Cat. She has more than 10 years of experience in marketing and public relations in which she enjoys being able to combine her professional background with her passion for animals.