We have a lot of customers who come in with questions regarding their dogs coat and skin. As skin and coat therapists, we have come up with the following suggestions to help solve skin and coat issues.
Dry itchy skin does not always have to do with fleas. I have many customers that want me to 'dip' their dogs for fleas because they are itching. Most likely it is NOT fleas but dry skin.
Ask yourself what are YOU feeding your dog.
For a GOOD, HIGH-QUALITY dog food, look for:
HIGH meat content
At least 2-3 out of the top 5 ingredients should be meat or meat meal (first ingredient must be!). Meal is simply the meat with the moisture removed.
higher quality grains
such as barley, brown rice, and oatmeal, instead of seeing wheat and corn. Or an alternative starch/carbohydrate such as potatoes or sweet potatoes.
What you don't want in dog food:
- A lot of fillers (brewers rice, beet pulp, etc)
- Preservatives that are believed to be carcinogens (BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin)
- Artificial colorings such as the Red, Blue, and Yellow dyes.
- Added sugars (sugar, corn syrup)
- Mystery meats (meats identified only as "meat" or "poultry".)
More information about byproducts.
Higher quality food may seem more expensive at first, but it evens out. The higher quality the food, the less fillers eaten (and therefore the less waste from your beloved pet). Your dog eats more of a low-quality food to try to get the nutrition it needs, and most of the food just passes. Also, higher-quality food will make your animals healthier, so you save money on vet bills in the long run.
What **NOT** to buy:
Stay away from grocery stores brands. They are low-quality foods chalk full of fillers, preservatives, dyes, etc.. (e.g. Beneful, Old Roy, Alpo, Pedigree)
Beware of "premium" foods. "Premium" does not always mean good nutritionally, and is not a nutritionally high quality food. Most of these foods have the same types of ingredients as grocery store foods, just a slightly better quality of the bad ingredients. (e.g. Iams, Eukanuba, Science Diet, Bil-Jac)
Many vets will recommend what they sell in their office. These sales benefit the vet's office.
Veterinarian schools don't focus a lot on nutrition. We are not implying any vet is a bad vet because he recommends those foods. Many vets are told "this is good food", so they pass the message along lacking proper nutrition knowledge. Also, some dog food brands (like Hills) support vet schools, so vets have heard of it from the beginning of college.
Hills company, the makers of Science Diet, are heavily involved in vet schools. "Hill's scientists author more than 50 research papers and textbook chapters each year and teach at leading schools of veterinary medicine"
When switching foods, do it gradually so your dog doesn't get sick. Do this over a two week timespan:
25% food A, 75% food B
50% food A, 50% food B
75% food A, 25% food B
100% food A
You can add some RAW turkey, chicken, plain yogurt, and apples. This small change will show a BIG difference in your pets overall skin and coat health.