Skin and coat health is affected by many things, including genetic, dietary, and environmental factors. This article will focus on two dietary components; fatty acids and minerals, which both play key roles in maintaining healthy skin and a shiny coat.
Let’s start with fatty acids, which are the building blocks of fat. There are two categories that contain essential fatty acids, essential meaning that dogs require from their diet. These are omega-6 and omega-3. In addition, specific minerals including zinc, manganese, iron and copper play key roles in dog skin and coat health.
In pet food, fatty acids can be obtained from many different ingredients, including plant and animal sources. When looking to support skin and coat health, it is important to consider not only the total amount of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids but also the ratio of omega 6 and omega 3.
When digested, omega-6 fatty acids are metabolized into substances which are known to be more inflammatory than omega-3s. Therefore, this ratio is important because too much dietary omega-6 and not enough omega-3 can contribute to a chronic state of low-grade inflammation. Inflammation in the body is associated with a number of disease states, including some skin disorders1 and even obesity. Alternatively, too much dietary omega-3 can cause issues, such as reduced blood clotting efficiency, so, as with many things when it comes to nutrition, while some are good, more is not necessarily better, it’s all about balance!
Certain omega-6 fatty acids play a critical role in skin health by maintaining the outermost water barrier of the skin, namely Linoleic acid. Linoleic acid is an essential omega-6 fatty acid for dogs since they must obtain it from their diet and cannot make it on their own. Chicken fat and canola oil are rich sources of linoleic acid.
Omega-3s are a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids that play numerous roles in the body. There are three omega-3 fatty acids that play particularly important roles in supporting your dog’s health: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
DHA and EPA support proper brain and eye development, which makes them key to healthy puppy growth. Adult dogs can make DHA and EPA from ALA, but puppies lack this pathway, making them essential for this life stage. ALA is rich oils from plants, such as flaxseed and canola oil. EPA and DHA are found only in marine sources, such as salmon and marine microalgae oil.
Omega-3 fatty acids are known to be anti-inflammatory in nature, which can support healthy skin and the growth of a healthy coat.
In general, minerals play many important functions in the body, including skin and coat health, and proper bone and tissue development. These compounds are considered essential in the diet as the body cannot make them on their own and they are needed for proper functioning. Specific to skin and coat health are the key minerals zinc, manganese, iron, and copper, each has specific roles in supporting healthy skin, coats, noses, and paws.
As a key player in cellular growth and protein synthesis, zinc is integral in the support of healthy noses and paws, skin, and coats. Additionally, zinc plays a role in the development of a full coat. In fact, zinc is one of the most abundantly found minerals in the body, and even mild deficiencies are associated with undesirable outcomes, including skin disorders. and hair loss2.
Manganese is involved in the creation of a specific antioxidant that helps to protect cell membranes, and therefore also supports healthy skin and keratinised tissues, such as that found on your pets' noses and paws3. Manganese, along with zinc and iron, also helps to facilitate proper wound healing, growth of a full coat, and the support of healthy skin through cellular growth.
Iron is an important mineral for the maintenance of healthy skin and coats as it helps to address nutritional anemia4, which can be associated with a dull, listless coat. Along with zinc and manganese, iron plays a role in wound healing and skin health through cell growth and antioxidant activity to combat cellular damage.
Copper works with zinc to support the health and integrity of the special tissue found on noses and paws. Specifically, copper is integral to the specialised collagen found in these keratinised tissues5. Additionally, based on its involvement in cellular division and protein synthesis, copper is also key in supporting the integrity of skin and keratinized tissue.
Chelated Minerals in Pet Food
Chelation means that a mineral has been attached to a protein or amino acid, which makes it readily absorbable by the body and increases its effectiveness. Chelated minerals are often used to increase the efficacy of the minerals in the body, and are e listed on ingredient panels as "proteinates" such as 'copper proteinate'. Though traditional inorganic minerals are perfectly available for normal bodily functions in pets, chelated minerals have been shown to improve skin and coat appearance6.
Go! Solutions Skin + Coat Care recipes for dogs contain omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids from premium-quality proteins and oils, combined with chelated minerals to create perfectly balanced diets that can help keep your dog’s skin and coat looking shiny throughout their years.
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Ogawa, Y., Kawamura, T., & Shimada, S. (2016). Zinc and skin biology. Archives of biochemistry and biophysics. Vol 611, pg 113-119.
Tomlinson, D., Boggino, C., & Jansen van Vuuren, H. 2020. Trace minerals and inflammation in cats and dogs. Chemunique knowledge inspired. Pg 1-3.
Hirobe, T. 2012. Iron and Skin Health: iron stimulates skin function. In: Preedy V.R. (eds) Handbook of diet, nutrition and the skin. Human Health HandbooksNo. 1(2). Wageningen Academic Publishers.
Zhao, X., Zhang, X., &Liu, D. (2021). Collagen peptides and the related synthetic peptides: A review on improving skin health. Journal of functional foods. Vol 86
Trevizan, L., Fischer, M.M., Rodenbusch, R.R., Labres, R.V., & Kessler, A. (2013). Effects of diets contaning organic and inorganic zinc sources on hair characteristics, zinc concentration in blood and hair, and the immune response in dogs. Acta Scientiae Veterinariae. Vol 41(1154).