Diet and Skin Problems – Are they Linked?

The skin is a large, active organ with a high requirement for protein, fat and other nutrients. Therefore, it is unsurprising that subtle changes in its nutrient supply have a marked effect on both skin and coat condition. As the saying goes ‘we are what we eat;’ and in this case, a diet high in protein, low in carb, and grain free leads to the healthiest skin for our four-legged friends.

Essential fatty acids (EFA’s) play a vital role in maintaining normal skin structure and function. Specifically, linoleic acid contributes to both limiting water loss through the skin, and  reducing the potential penetration of environmentally harmful substances. This is due to the outer part of skin consisting of cells which have a linoleic acid component. Linoleic acid is an omega 6 fatty acid which is required under the AAFCO nutrient profile, both for dogs and cats, mainly for these skin protective features. Several other nutrients (also in the nutrient profiles), have additionally been established as aiding in maintaining healthy skin. These include zinc, vitamin A and vitamin E. So, by being complete and balanced, K9 Natural and Feline Natural diets in turn help your cat and dog maintain healthy skin and a glossy coat.

Several studies have also investigated the impact fatty acids have on skin condition in dogs 1, 2, 3 . In particular, it was recently demonstrated  that when dogs were fed a diet higher in fat, improvements in skin and coat were observed after just 12 weeks4.

Protein, is another key macronutrient for skin and coat health as hair is made up of  approximately 95% protein. In fact, the skin’s normal growth and keratinisation (the hardening of the outer part of skin) demands between 25 and 30% of our animals daily protein requirement. Failure to meet this need can lead to brittle hair that is slow to regrow, and excessively scaly and thin skin.

Feeding a minimally processed diet rich in animal fat, protein and essential fatty acids is the key to healthy skin and coat function. K9 Natural and Feline Natural diets are packed with protein, and carefully complete and balanced for all stages of your pet’s life.

It’s our not-so-secret recipe for a natural glow that’s lapped up all over the world.

Written in conjunction with Mark Roberts.

  1. Campbell, K., & Roudebush, P. (1995). Effects of four diets on serum and cutaneous fatty acids, transepidermal water losses, skin surface lipids, hydration and condition of the skin and haircoat of dogs. Paper presented at the Proc. 11th meeting of the Amer. Col. of Vet. Dermatologists.
  2. Rees, C. A., Bauer, J. E., Burkholder, W., Kennis, R., Dunbar, B., & Bigley, C. (2001). Effects of dietary flax seed and sunflower seed supplementation on normal canine serum polyunsaturated fatty acids and skin and hair coat condition scores. Veterinary Dermatology, 12(2), 111-117.
  3. Saevik, B., Thoresen, S., & Taugbøl, O. (2002). Fatty acid composition of serum lipids in atopic and healthy dogs. Research in Veterinary Science, 73(2), 153-158.
  4. Kirby, N., Hester, S., Rees, C., Kennis, R., Zoran, D., & Bauer, J. (2009). Skin surface lipids and skin and hair coat condition in dogs fed increased total fat diets containing polyunsaturated fatty acids. Journal of animal physiology and animal nutrition, 93(4), 505-511