Sometimes, a dog’s skin can become dry and itchy- leaving it uncomfortable all day long!
Thankfully, there are certain foods that can help to correct this condition and restore the health of a dog’s skin and coat.
Welcome to our Ultimate Guide on What To Add To Dog Food For Dry Skin!
First and foremost, foods that are rich in essential fatty acids will help to solve this issue.
Essential fatty acids play a major role in ensuring that the skin is able to repair itself more efficiently (Olson, 2010). Therefore, it follows that irritated dog skin can be a result of a poor diet that doesn’t contain enough of these nutrients.
Ensuring that your dog has a healthy, balanced diet is the foundation to smooth skin and a shiny coat. Work closely with your vet to find the right diet to your dog, as this should be formulated based on its specific needs taking into account its breed, age, and circumstances.
Getting the right amount of minerals, vitamins, and proteins, as well as the optimal number of calories, will ensure that the dog remains at the right weight while maintaining the best skin and coat quality possible.
While irritated and dry skin can be a sign of deficiencies in the diet, it can also be the result of a food allergy or reaction to a specific ingredient. Therefore, experimentation with a large scale dietary change can be the ideal solution.
Again, it is highly recommended that you consult your vet if you suspect that your dog suffers from a certain food allergy. He may recommend certain options such as trying different sources of protein, or limiting a certain ingredient.
If you do choose to switch the dog’s regular diet with another option, be patient and allow it to transition slowly for approximately ten days.
As important as it is to give your dog high quality food, do not forget the importance of sufficient daily water intake. Fresh, clean water for your dog should always be available to ensure that its skin is properly hydrated.
Hydration usually has a direct effect on the condition of the dog’s skin, so if your dog usually subsists on dry kibble for its daily meals, having water available constantly becomes even more of a necessity.
Finally, there are definitely quite a few supplements that you can add to your dog’s food to promote optimal skin and coat health.
Supplements such as fish oil, quercetin, chia seeds, and digestive enzymes among others can be added to the dog’s food to improve the condition of the skin. These supplements have the effect of being able to relieve itchy, dry skin, as well as boosting the overall immune system.
When trying to restore your dog’s skin health, the idea of supplements may at first be the most appealing. However, keep in mind that whole foods do work best and it is best to approach this issue with a holistic mindset.
- Foods To Help With Your Dog’s Coat And Skin: Best Dog Food For Skin Problems!
- Homemade Dog Food For Dry Skin: What Can I Add To My Dog’s Food For Itchy Skin?
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Without further ado, let’s get right into the foods that can be beneficial to your pup’s coat and skin!
Chia seeds contain a huge amount of fiber and Omega 3 fatty acids when compared to any other grain seed out there.
They are rich in ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid), a plant-based form of Omega 3 fatty acids that can play a major role in improving the texture of the skin, ensuring that it is soft, and fighting skin inflammatory conditions.
Omega 3 and essential fatty acids are extremely helpful for skin health as they have qualities such as:
- Being able to preventing water loss
- Being able to create a barrier against allergens and microbes that might otherwise attack the skin and body
- Ability to decrease and modulate inflammation.
Chia seeds are also a great source of antioxidants and protein, which comes in handy in the regeneration and repair of body cells.
The nutritional value that eggs can have on a dog is undeniably huge. This is partly because they contain the most bioavailable protein for easy absorption by canines. In addition to this, eggs contain large amounts of vitamin A which stimulate and promote cell turnover.
Eggs also contain zinc which works incredibly well in supporting cell division and protein synthesis, enabling wounds to heal quickly and assisting in the efficient formation of connective tissue.
The yolk of an egg is a huge source of biotin, which is an essential element that helps in the treatment of dry and itchy skin as well as other skin-related allergies.
Make sure to always feed your dog cooked eggs in order for it to gain all of these benefits. Try to avoid raw eggs at all costs! This is because they contain a protein called avidin which interrupts the metabolism of amino acids, glucose, fats, and biotin in general.
Feeding your dog cooked eggs will have a huge impact in ensuring its skin stays supple and healthy.
Almonds are rich in the entire vitamin E family of tocotrienols and tocopherols, which is undeniably helpful as studies have indicated that dogs that have a deficiency in vitamin E tend to develop certain dermatological disorders.
While whole almonds themselves are not generally recommended, supplementing your dog’s meals with almond oil can have a very positive impact on the improvement of their skin health (Schenck, 2011).
Almond oil is a great source of Vitamin B, bioflavonoids, zinc, magnesium, manganese, and copper as well as containing traces of Omega 3.
Almond oil can be easily added to your dog’s existing meals at a dosage of one tablespoon per day. If you do choose to feed your dog whole almonds, make sure to only do so in small quantities since they are not easily digested and can sometimes because stomach upsets.
If your dog is suffering from dry and itchy skin, feeding them a bit of almond oil daily will be a step forward in ensuring that the condition is corrected quickly and safely.
Feeding your dog with coconut is a great idea when it comes to improving skin health and can generally yield quick, visible changes.
Raw coconut is rich in medium-chain saturated fats that are quickly transformed into energy, and have the ability to reduce inflammation and irritation as well as preventing the growth of bacteria. In this way, coconuts can definitely help your dog’s skin health improve greatly.
Adding coconut oil to your dog food may also be beneficial, but care should be taken as adding too much can cause significant digestive distress. It will provide omega-6 fatty acids to your dog as well as antioxidants and extra vitamins which will improve the skin and coat of your dog.
Carob is a fruit that is found on the Ceratonia siliqua tree that has more than a passing resemblance to the more well-known cacao.
It is very rich in certain natural sugars, vitamins, and minerals such as magnesium, iron and potassium– making it an excellent choice for canines.
What makes it a good food for dogs is that it is free of stimulants such as theobromine and caffeine, thus rendering it perfectly safe. It is rich in vitamins A, B, D, and E, which allows it to have a huge impact in improving the health of the dog’s skin.
Carob has also been proven to have some antibacterial and toxin-eliminating properties, which only adds to the numerous advantages that it brings to the skin and coat health of our furry friends.
Though they may be as standard as it comes, oats are a fortifying cereal that is low in starch and extremely high in mineral content– especially phosphorus and potassium.
Oats are an incredible food for dogs as they also contain iron, vitamin B, magnesium, and calcium.
The grain’s major benefit in regards to the skin is its soluble fiber content, which can help a dog’s GI system to get rid of toxins more efficiently.
Feeding your dog with liver from grass-fed animals has a positive impact on the health of its skin.
Liver is a nutritional powerhouse, containing micronutrients such as B vitamins of biotin, folic acid, pantothenic acid, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin. It is also rich in vitamins A, C, D, E, as well as copper, zinc, iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium.
As you can tell, feeding your dog liver on occasion will pay massive dividends for its skin, coat and overall health!
Cranberries contain a variety of bioactive components, including anthocyanin antioxidants, phytochemical allergic acid, and proanthocyanins (Olson, 2010).
Studies have indicated that supplementation with anthocyanins prevents inflammation and damage of blood vessels. These antioxidants also have the ability to alleviate canine skin allergies and various skin issues.
Sweet potatoes can be considered an excellent food for dog skin health since they carry high levels of beta carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A.
They are also a great source of vitamins E and C, which supports wound healing, decreases photodamage, contributes to photoprotection, and facilitates collagen production.
Therefore, feeding your dog with sweet potatoes periodically can have a huge impact on boosting the health of its skin and coat.
Here are a few easy options that you can add to your dog’s regular meals as a quick boost towards its skin conditions and associated health problems!
Fish oil famously contains high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids that can provide many positive benefits for a canine with sensitive skin.
It has potent anti-inflammatory effects and therefore is effective in reducing symptoms of skin allergies and other conditions. For example, Omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish oil can be used to treat skin disorders such as seborrhea.
Fish oils are also great for the joints and overall health of dogs, so they should definitely be a staple in your pup’s supplement regimen.
While many dry dog foods purport to contain certain levels of Omega 3’s and fatty acids, the truth is that most of them only contain trace, ineffective amounts.
Therefore, you should definitely look to supplement with additional sources of fish oil rather than relying on a prepackaged product.
For best results, look for pure fish oil supplements with no additives or flavors. There are various types of oil available, such as natural triglyceride or ethyl ester, so it would be best to consult with your vet when choosing the one most suitable for your pooch.
You can also add fish oil into a dog’s diet by- you guessed it– feeding it fatty fish! This usually means giving the pup a piece of salmon, tuna, or sardine once or twice every week. There should be a noticeable effect on your dog’s coat and skin within six weeks!
Make sure that you only provide cooked fish however, as giving your dog raw fish can lead to a higher risk of parasite infestation or bacterial infection.
Coconut oil can be very good at reducing dryness and itching of the skin.
Add just a little oil to your pet’s food for a healthy skin and coat. Since coconut oil is pretty much pure fat, giving too much of it for your dog to eat is a sure recipe for stomach problems and diarrhea. In serious cases, pancreatitis can result.
For every ten pounds of weight, use a quarter teaspoon of coconut oil. You can also apply the oil directly to a dog’s sores, cuts, or scrapes for a healing and anti-bacterial effect.
Digestive enzymes are supplements that can be used to treat mange, dermatitis, and itchy skin in dogs. These enzymes are proteins that help the dog to break down fiber, starch, and other proteins into smaller subunits that are much more easily absorbed.
Skin problems and infections in dogs usually stem from nutritional deficiencies. A lack of certain minerals and nutrients causes the skin cells, membranes, and follicles to become weak. This then results in issues such as dry skin, acne, hot spots, yeast infections, and rashes.
Supplementing with digestive enzymes can help a dog absorb the nutrients from its food more effectively, especially if the dog has pre-existing digestive issues.
The enzymes are usually available in powder form and can be sprinkled directly on your dog’s meal. However, consult with a vet first before giving the supplement to your pet to establish the correct dosage for your pet!
Quercetin is a flavonoid that is plant-based with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antihistamine properties.
It is very effective in suppressing the release of histamines, and as such is beneficial to dogs that are dealing with environment-related skin allergies that cause dryness and itching.
Quercetin is most effective when it is paired with bromelain, an enzyme that is most commonly associated with pineapples.
Quercetin is readily available in pill or powder form, and as always consult with your vet first before giving any to your pup in order to determine the proper dosage.
Raw foods especially are rich in vitamins, protein, minerals, and fats. If your dog is fed a constant diet of fresh raw foods as intended by nature, it will very likely have a healthy, shiny coat.
There are no specific meaty bones that you must use- provided your dog has no allergies. Your local butcher will have a wide range of suitable meat and bone products for your pooch, such as grass-fed beef, tails, or other ‘waste’ cuts.
The most important thing to make sure of if you choose to feed your dog raw meat and bones is that they are clean and fresh- not rotten! Otherwise, you will have to worry about much more than simply a dull coat.
I don’t think we need to delve too deeply into just how good vegetables are good for health– I’m sure you still remember the lessons from elementary school!
The same lessons apply to canines. Carrots, green beans, kale, broccoli and cucumbers are only a few of a wide range of great options for your pup. And while some dogs absolutely hate vegetables, most of them will consume veggies when added to their main meal.
For the pickiest eaters, a smart move would be to blend the veggies for easy consumption and digestion. Just like the kids, your dog will most likely not even know that they are there!
The same deal applies for fruits! While much more agreeable to the canine palate, not many dogs will eat a whole plate of fruit as is. Therefore, the fruits should be mixed or added to the main (meaty) meal.
The best fruits to give your dog for skin health include:
- Honeydew melon
There you have it. Have a go at implementing some (or all) of the suggestions listed in this article and see firsthand the difference adding a few additional ingredients can make to your dog’s outward appearance.
With such an added boost of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, it would be difficult for your dog to not have the smoothest skin and shiniest coat on the block!
Campbell, K. L. (2006). The Pet Lover’s Guide to Cat and Dog Skin Diseases. Elsevier Health Sciences.
Olson, L. (2010). Raw & Natural Nutrition for Dogs. North Atlantic Books.
Schenck, P. (2011). Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets. Wiley.com.
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.