I have a two-year-old Springer Spaniel called Bella. She enjoys swimming, but her coat and skin are becoming quite dry. Is there anything I can do about this diet-wise? My vet has recommended a moisturising shampoo and conditioner, which are helping.
Anna Cherry advises...
Swimming can be a great source of enjoyment for our canine friends. Bella sounds like a real ‘water baby’ so we don’t want to stop her from swimming, but we do need to take some steps to ensure her skin and coat remain healthy. The products your vet has recommended sound good and should help retain the naturally protective oils in Bella’s skin and coat. It is really important to take good care of your dog’s skin, as it is the largest ‘organ’ of the body and has a vital role to play, including providing a waterproof barrier that helps to protect the body from any harmful elements in the environment. The skin is also a very active organ, as hair and skin cells are constantly being replenished.
The energy to fuel this process is derived from the fats and proteins your dog absorbs from their food. In fact, the skin can use as much as 20-30 per cent of the proteins that come from a pet’s food. So feeding Bella on a good-quality diet is the first step towards helping to keep her skin and coat in tip-top condition. Look for foods that contain good levels of protein and fat, as these will help to provide the vital nutrients needed to maintain a healthy skin and coat. Some foods on the market have been specifically formulated to help boost skin and coat condition, and are often labelled as suitable for sensitive skin. They are enriched with all the vitamins, minerals and fatty acids that are essential in making new skin cells, promoting hair growth and maintaining the skin’s protective barrier function. Vitamins such as A, E and B-complex, and minerals such as copper and zinc, are all essential for maintaining a healthy skin and coat.
The other important ingredients to check for are essential fatty acids (EFAs) such as omega 3 and 6, which boost the protective barrier function of the skin. They also help to prevent skin from becoming dehydrated and will give Bella’s dry skin a boost. If you don’t want to switch to a new food, you can improve Bella’s levels of these vital nutrients by using a good quality supplement formulated for skin and coat care.