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What Nutrients Control Shedding in Your Dog

Guest Post by Mark Young

ID-10032366Shedding is a natural process that just seems to come with the territory when you're a dog owner. In some cases, excessive shedding can be a sign of an underlying nutrient deficiency.  When this happens your dog's hair and skin might be more dry and brittle than usual.  This can cause their hair to fall out more easily, and brittle hair is also prone to splitting and breaking.  Continue reading on if you want to learn more about some key nutrients that can help alleviate this problem.

Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids are some of the most important nutrients when it comes to a dog's overall skin and hair health.  The two main fats your dog will need to keep hair loss under control are Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. 

Most dogs already get enough Omega-6 fats in their regular diet, but in most cases, they won't be getting enough Omega-3 fats from a regular commercial dog food. 

You can either supplement your dog's diet with fish oil or flax seed oil since they are both great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids.  There are also some dog foods out there that have been specially formulated to control shedding. Alternatively, if you really want to spoil your dog you can feed them grass-fed beef which tends to have a higher Omega-3 content.

When you feed your dog enough of these healthy fats their skin will retain moisture better.  In addition, their hair will look more lustrous since a thin layer of natural oil will protect their hair from drying out and becoming brittle.

Biotin

Sometimes excessive shedding can be caused by a biotin deficiency.  The signs of biotin deficiency include dry flaky skin,  excessive shedding, and a lot of itching and scratching.  Your dog's nails may also become brittle, and they can suffer joint problems if the biotin deficiency is not corrected.

Luckily biotin is produced in small quantities in your dog's intestines by beneficial bacteria.  If your dog has intestinal problems, though, then the bacteria in their gut might not be producing enough biotin.  Also, if your dog has recently been on a course of antibiotics the beneficial bacteria might have been killed off.

To play it safe you can feed your dog foods that are rich in biotin so you can be sure they are getting enough of this vital nutrient.  Some foods that are excellent sources of biotin include egg yolks, liver, meat, and some leafy green vegetables.

Protein

When most people think of hair loss they don't tend to think about protein.  In reality, a dogs hair is made of keratin which is actually 60 to 90 percent protein.   Since dogs have a lot of hair a good percentage of the protein they consume is used to produce all of that keratin. 

Most dogs tend to eat a high protein diet, so we often think that our dog is at least getting enough of this nutrient.  There are cases where a dog might have problems digesting protein, so even if it seems like they are eating enough protein they still might not be absorbing it. 

If your dog has problems digesting protein you can add digestive enzymes to their food.  The digestive enzymes will break down the protein into amino acids, which will be much easier for your dog's intestines to absorb.

If your dog is a picky eater that might also lead to a protein deficiency.  In that case, you will have to figure out a way to get them to eat enough protein by offering them treats, or giving them supplements. 

An average adult dog needs to consume at least 18 percent of their calories in the form of protein.  While puppies will need to eat a diet made up of at least 22 percent protein to fuel their rapid development.   As long as you hit these targets you can be sure a protein deficiency is not at the root of your dog's hair loss problem.

Mark Young is an avid pet lover and writer on ThePetSupplyGuy.com. When he is not writing he spends his time taking care of his wide assortment of pets, and he also volunteers his time at local animal shelters.

Image: Anankkml, Freedigitalphotos.net

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