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  • Does The Change In Season Affect Our Dogs?

    If you live with one or more canine friends, you might have noticed more dog hair around than usual lately.

    There might be a few more ‘dust bunnies’ appearing in corners and your vacuum cleaner might look distinctly more ‘hairy’ than normal.

    Spring heralds the changing of seasons, but for our dogs, it often also signals a changing of their coats. Moulting is a normal, seasonal process and for many dogs, it can mean they go through a period where they might look less ‘coated’ than normal.

    For heavily coated breeds and types, for show dogs, or for any dogs that might suffer from skin and coat conditions, this can also be a good time to take stock and assess their management and nutrition to see if there might be worthwhile changes to support the health and appearance of their skin and coat.

    Let’s consider some key factors important for our dogs’ skin and coat health while the seasons change.

    Surface Deep

    The diversity of dog breeds and types mean that as well as coming in different shapes and sizes, their coat types vary widely too, from short and sleek, to long and shaggy, to coarse and wiry.

    The health and appearance of our dogs’ coat is directly linked to their skin health. Indeed, because the coat is the first thing we see of our dogs, it is a good indication of their overall wellbeing. Coat and skin condition is also often a clear signal of how well their overall biology is functioning.

    The external appearance of our dogs can also be the first indication that maybe something is not quite right, whether that be unusual coat loss, skin changes or irritation, or even just excessive itching and scratching. Even subtle changes to how their coat looks, feels or the direction in which the hair lies can indicate that something is going on that might require intervention. Be alert to changes in smell too – sometimes metabolic changes can result in alterations to the secretions on the skin surface, some of which will smell different to ‘normal’.

    Skin Deep

    The skin is the largest organ of the body and is an essential first line of defence for our dogs. The skin helps to protect against injury, disease-causing organisms and other environmental challenges including extremes of temperature and solar radiation from the sun.

    The skin also prevents excess water loss and can help support temperature regulation in our dogs, although they do not sweat to cool themselves in the same way as humans or horses do. Instead, cooling is largely done via panting, although there is a limited amount of sweating from the body and the pads of the feet.

    Healthy skin is injury free, soft, pliable and not excessively greasy or dry. There should be no unusual redness, hair loss or evidence of excessive itching or scratching.

    Because the skin is replete with sensory nerves, it is highly sensitive to changes in the environment and is also responsive to touch. Where the skin becomes violated, perhaps as a result of injury, its critical barrier function can become breached. Where microorganisms or other substances enter the skin, there can be irritation and inflammation. This commonly results in scratching and in some cases a vicious cycle of irritation, itching, inflammation, more irritation, more itching and more inflammation. Because the integrity of the skin is then impacted, coat condition can also be affected.

    Sometimes irritation is seasonal and resolves almost as fast as it appeared. However, it might be the sign of other things too. If you are at all concerned about your dog’s skin or coat, or there are unexplained changes, lumps or injuries, always seek veterinary advice in the first instance.

    How might nutrition help my dog’s skin and coat?

    While our dog’s skin and coat are critical for health and visible signs of wellbeing, they are also effectively a historical sign of what has been going on internally. This is because the skin (and coat) is constantly renewing itself from the base layer of the skin upwards.

    This constant renewal generally means that any interventions to support skin and coat health will take on average four to six weeks before they are seen externally. It is also why being alert to even subtle changes is important, because they can be a sign of something else happening that requires action.

    Be wary of products that suggest they can make an impact on coat health within a few days – some topical applications will help to smooth the hair shaft, add gloss, shine or condition, but they cannot change the fundamental integrity of the hair or skin on the surface directly.

    However, nutrition is a good way to support a healthy skin and coat for your dog. For show dogs, dogs recovering from illness, or after raising a litter of pups and even gundogs who now might be at the end of a hard working season, some additional nutritional support might be needed to restore their gleam.

    Feeding a complete and nutritionally balanced diet is a good start – whether this is a commercially available option, or a well formulated home prepared diet.

    Make sure your dog is getting a good source of digestible dietary protein is important. This is because skin and hair is predominantly made up of protein and your dog needs the building blocks of protein to be able to renew, repair and replace it.

    Skin and coat health is also dependant on a number of micronutrients including the essential fatty acids (omega 3 acids especially), vitamin E, biotin and other B vitamins and a range of minerals such as copper, zinc and selenium. While well-formulated diets will typically supply adequate levels of these nutrients, sometimes additional supplementation is needed and is beneficial.

    Feeding an occasional treat of oily fish such as salmon or sardines can be an easy and tasty way for your dog to benefit from additional omega-3 fatty acids that may support skin health.

    If, however you want more targeted nutritional support, a supplement such as Science Supplements Skin and Coat K9 could be considered as a dietary addition.

    It is important to note however, that some ongoing skin concerns might well need veterinary intervention and if your dog is being treated for some conditions, do discuss nutritional interventions with your vet. This is because some nutrients may interfere with certain medications.

    The condition of a dog’s coat can be a great indication of how they feel inside. By ensuring all round management and care, you can help your dog tell the story of their health through a healthy skin and a shiny coat.

    Top Tips for Skin and Coat Health

    • Incorporate grooming, or at least a physical check of skin and coat condition into your daily routine – this can help identify changes or concerns quickly.
    • Bathing using a suitable shampoo can be a good way of monitoring skin and coat health, as well as keeping your dog smelling fresh and clean – just don’t be tempted to overdo it and make bath times as rewarding as possible for your dog.
    • Some breeds and types need specialised grooming knowledge, so find a good groomer who can advise you on appropriate coat care and management for your dog.
    • Nutritional support via key nutrients can be a great option for great skin and coat condition.

    Science Supplements offer a range of high specification, canine supplements that can help to support your dog’s health and wellbeing all year round. We offer options to support your dog’s joint, skin, and digestive health as well as supporting them during periods of anxiety or worry. Skin and Coat K9 is an ideal choice for any dogs that need a little extra support for their skin and coat health.

    You can find out more and explore our canine supplement range, by clicking here or contact us to speak to one of our experienced nutritional advisors.

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