FAQs on the role of nutrients for Skin health


Here are FAQs on the role of nutrients for your pooch’s healthy skin…
Skin, body’s largest organ, is a natural protector against toxic substances, dehydration, infection and ultraviolet light. Skin health is reflective of overall health status of pets. Healthy skin is flexible, without scabs, white flakes or any red areas. Skin of dogs and cats is sensitive and is vulnerable to multiple infections.
What are the important nutrients for good skin health in pets?
Good nutrition can have a positive effect on an animal’s skin and coat. Proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals are important nutrients required for healthy skin and coat in dogs and cats. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) play a major role in the maintenance of healthy coat and skin of dogs and cats, and are called essential fatty acids as they cannot be synthesised in the body. Thus, EFAs must be obtained through diet or supplementation.
What causes dull skin and poor coat in pets?
Deficiency of nutrients especially fatty acids, vitamins and minerals causes dullness in skin and loss of shine in the coat of pets.
What are the two important EFAs for pets?
The two most important EFAs commonly required by pets are Omega 3 and Omega 6. Omega 3 fatty acids include EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docohexaenoic Acid), and Omega 6 fatty acids include Linoleic Acid (LA) and Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA).
What is the role of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids in pets?  
Fatty acids play many important roles in pet’s body, of which few important ones are:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids are necessary structural components of cell membranes and maintain cell membrane permeability, thereby protecting loss of nutrients and entry of infectious agents into the skin.
  • Omega 6 fatty acids help in maintaining skin and coat in good condition.
  • Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are precursors for eicosanoids, such as prostaglandins that prevent inflammation.
  • Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids regulate epidermal (outer most layer of skin) proliferation, thus promotes keratinisation leading to rapid wound healing.
  • Omega fatty acids help in improving the heart health, improve the memory and trainability

What are the common conditions in pets where fatty acid supplementation is required?
Omega 3 fatty acids supplementation is important in pets suffering with allergic dermatitis, poor immune system, and inflammatory disorders like arthritis, etc.
Omega 6 fatty acids help in maintaining the integrity of skin and are responsible for the lusture and sheen in the healthy hair coat.
What is the role of vitamins and minerals in pet skin health?
Vitamins and minerals are important in maintaining various metabolic pathways in the body and healthy skin in pets. Deficiency or excess of either leads to skin problems.

  • Vitamin A is involved in the regulation of cellular growth and differentiation and is important in keratinisation process and either excess or deficiency leads to hyperkeratinisation, scaly skin, loss of hair, and increased susceptibility to microbial infections in pets.
  • Vitamin E as it is involved in fatty acid utilisation.
  • Zinc and Selenium are two important minerals that promote wound healing and act as antioxidants respectively.

(Dr Ritesh Sood is Product Manager, Animal Health Division, The Himalaya Drug Company, Bengaluru).