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Skin and Coat Problems Can be the First Sign of Bigger Problems      

Dr. Al Townshend

The skin is the largest organ in the body and one of the most important when it comes to protecting the body. The skin and hair are good indicators of the health of a pet. The hair should be shiny and smooth, and the skin should be supple and clean.

Selective breeding of both dogs and cats has produced an enormous variation in the different hair coat characteristics. Some pets don’t shed; others need regular clipping and grooming. Northern canine breeds have a thick undercoat. There are long and short hair varieties in both the canine and feline communities.


What are the Signs of Problems?

The signs there may be an issue can vary considerably depending on the hair type and density.

  • A dull, lack of luster, or brittle hair coat, dry and scaly or greasy skin can be the first indicators of an even more significant issue.
  • An increase in itching and scratching is a sign there may be an issue.
  • Excessive hair loss generally or in patches is a clue there is a problem.
  • Red and inflamed skin.
  • A foul odor coming from the skin should always be investigated.
  • Oozing wounds from excessive scratching.


What Health Issues can Affect the Appearance of the Skin and Hair Coat?

Stress, especially stress brought on by chronic diseases, is a common cause of skin issues. 

  • Hormone imbalances like thyroid and adrenal hormone imbalances.
  • Metabolic problems, including kidney disease.
  • Digestive issues such as diarrhea and vomiting, 
  • Immune disorders, including Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
  • Allergies can be reflected in poor skin and hair coats. 
  • Internal and external parasites such as hookworms, fleas, and ticks are common causes of secondary skin and hair issues.
  • Cancer and the stress on the body can lower the quality of the hair coat.

Understanding that skin and hair issues can be some of the first signs of these more severe and sometimes life-threatening conditions is critical to catching the disease early and working closely with the pet’s veterinarian to confirm the diagnosis. Early detection offers the best and often the least expensive chance of correcting or controlling the primary issue.


Other Primary Factors in Skin and Hair Health


Nutrition can play a role in causing skin issues, and nutrition can be a significant factor in resolving the primary problem that caused the condition.

  • Cheaper, less expensive foods with poor quality ingredients that are difficult to digest can’t provide essential nutrients. They can encourage poor hair quality and make the pet susceptible to primary medical conditions that affect skin and hair coat.
  • A diet deficient in essential nutrients or lacking sufficient nutrients can cause issues reflected in poor skin and hair coat. 
  • Poor and inadequate nutrition stresses all of the body’s organs, lowering the pet’s quality of life and often requiring the added expense of more frequent veterinary visits.
  • Highly digestible animal protein-focused, lower carbohydrate recipes and treats specifically designed for animals that evolved as carnivores are the best way to support whole-body health and prevent many medical issues.
  • Rotational feeding is also an effective way of assuring optimal nutrition and can reduce the risk of some conditions such as food allergies and sensitivities.



Supplements that go beyond the basics and provide optimum levels of highly digestible nutrients are often used to resolve medical and primary skin issues.

  • Omega 3 fatty acids supplements such as fish oils, hemp seed oils, and other fat sources rich in these essential fats can speed recovery and support a healthy, vibrant skin and coat.
  • Balanced vitamin and mineral supplements assure the pet has all it needs for optimum absorption and utilization of nutrients.
  • Probiotics, or the good bacteria essential for optimum digestion and immune health, help assure the Guardian they are getting the best value from the foods they are feeding.



Grooming is often required to maintain a healthy skin and coat. 

  • Almost all pets benefit from regular combing and brushing. It stimulates the skin, cleans away dead skin cells. It prevents matting and tangles that can occur, especially during regular shedding periods.
  • Bathing helps keep the skin clean can add luster to the hair coat. After a hard day, working dogs like retrievers and herding breeds often need bathing and grooming. 
  • The proper grooming tools and supplies can make grooming easier and more effective. To find the proper tools and supplies for your pet check out.

Highly digestible optimum nutrition from all foods, treats and supplements and regular grooming can be one of the best ways to prevent skin and coat issues. When skin and coat problems are a sign or primary disease, diet can help correct the problem and speed the recovery.

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