Itchy Skin and Nutrition Insights for Dogs and Cats

In this episode of The Pet Nutrition Show, Dr. Anna shares insights from her recent course in Vienna on clinical nutrition, focusing on itchy skin and coat health in pets.

She talks about common symptoms of itchy skin—such as scratching, licking, and rubbing—and underlying causes like allergies, infections, and stress. Dr. Anna explains the roles of nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, bioactive lipids, and probiotics in maintaining skin barrier function. The hosts also explore elimination diets for diagnosing food allergies and the complexities of treating skin issues in pets.

Plus we cover a question about why a dog’s coat might appear reddish, touching on causes like sun exposure, diet deficiencies, and genetics. To wrap up, Dr. Anna gives a simple home food hack to boost a pet's coat health using chia seed oil.

00:00 Introduction to the Pet Nutrition Show

01:20 Q&A: Why Does My Dog's Coat Turn Reddish?

05:53 Understanding and Treating Itchy Skin in Pets

07:58 Common Causes of Dermatitis in Pets

17:38 Nutritional Strategies for Healthy Skin

23:30 Identifying and Managing Food Allergies

27:10 Addressing Dull and Brittle Coats

30:15 Home Food Hacks for a Healthy Coat

31:00 Conclusion and Show Notes 

You can also listen on Spotify or Apple.

Have a listen to the show, but if you’re more of a reader, here's the transcript:

[00:00:00] INTRO: This is the Pet Nutrition Show with Amanda and Dr. Anna.

[00:00:06] AMANDA: Welcome to the Pet Nutrition Show, where we talk, as the name suggests, everything related to nutrition, but with a sustainability focus. And today we are actually interviewing our very own co host. Dr. Anna Sutton in the second episode of our deep dive into, well, clinical nutrition, Anna, really, isn't it?

[00:00:30] AMANDA: And it, and it sort of springs from this week long with a bunch of vets in Vienna.

[00:00:35] ANNA: Yes, that's right. And it was that fabulous course I went on, which actually was almost a month ago, but Um, you know, we still keep in touch and actually we're still reviewing cases. So it was, it was, and is really good. And, uh, yes, just for clarity, I'm a physiologist, not a vet.

[00:00:53] AMANDA: You were the one sort of outlier in a room of vets. But more than held your own. And we are going to talk about some of the [00:01:00] insights that your, your, uh, fellow students and you generated or learnt, uh, in that week. Uh, and, and so today we're going to talk about itchy skin, which is a bit of a complicated issue and also right at the top of the radar for a lot of pet parents.

[00:01:15] AMANDA: But before we do, we're going to handle a Q and A.

[00:01:20] INTRO: Pet Q& A, where we answer what you're wondering about food, moods and poos.

[00:01:29] AMANDA: If your dog's coat looks

[00:01:30] ANNA: reddish, why does that happen? Oh, look, that's an interesting thing. And actually, I kind of first observed that really in my own dog. Because I've got a little sort of brown legata.

[00:01:42] ANNA: And she was, she was actually, wasn't really going red. She was going sort of a little bit grey. So it did get me digging into it. But at the same time, I also started to notice, while some of the dogs were, you know, You know, the dark coat colors sometimes looks a bit reddish. So it's a interesting [00:02:00] topic.

[00:02:00] ANNA: And there's quite a few things that actually can play a role here. So the first thing is, in fact, us, you and I, anyway, we live down under and we get a lot of sun and prolonged exposure to sunlight causes, particularly in the In the dark coat dogs, it causes the black pigments in the coat to start to break down.

[00:02:21] ANNA: And that's actually what can give it a reddish or brownish tint. It can also bleach, by the way, dogs with lighter colors. So particularly my dog in summer does change color. Diet and nutrition is big one. And you know, skin and coat color. And we're going to talk about this at length shortly, deficiencies or imbalances can absolutely affect the coat color.

[00:02:42] ANNA: And, and so if you're lacking certain amino acids, like tyrosine, for example, vitamins or minerals like copper, you can get changes in these fur pigmentation. And copper is a good one here because it's essential for the production of melanin. And this is the pigment responsible for the color [00:03:00] actually of most dogs, of dark, dark coat dogs anyway.

[00:03:04] ANNA: And it acts as a cofactor for this, this enzyme called tyranase, and that's critical for the synthesis of this melanin. And so if you don't have enough copper, what happens is the coat just doesn't get in. It's that nice, dark, shiny, rich, vibrant color. So that's really important. Uh, genetics as well. Some dogs actually a bit predisposed to have their black fur turn a bit, you know, red with age, health issues, things like hyperthyroidism or hormonal imbalances actually can affect both the dog's coat color, but also quality as well, and you tend to get a lot of other dermatological issues along with that as well, and saliva and tears.

[00:03:48] ANNA: Pet owners are aware of this, and dogs that frequently lick certain areas of their body all have excessive tears. They can develop these reddish stains when you, their fur, you don't really see it so [00:04:00] much in the dark dogs. You see it more in the white dogs, and this is due to, yeah, and this is due to the compounds in, special compounds in those saliva and tears that actually oxidize and change color on exposure to light.

[00:04:13] ANNA: So that's what it is. And again, I'm afraid age, a thing that you, you and I starting to learn a little bit about, I suppose. And, uh, as dogs age, you know, like us, their colours, their coat colour does start to change. And, you

[00:04:28] AMANDA: know,

[00:04:29] ANNA: that's just part of getting older.

[00:04:31] AMANDA: Yes. Well, On that note, we'll, we'll leave that one there.

[00:04:35] AMANDA: It's super interesting though, that you mentioned that about the sun exposure. So I guess that's a little bit like why my, well, when previously naturally blonde, it used to turn that kind of bottle yellow sort of colour in summer. I guess that's a bit the same kind of thing. Yeah, it probably is

[00:04:53] ANNA: actually, I don't know, I tend to go, uh, a little bit, uh, lighter in summer.

[00:04:59] ANNA: Not bad. [00:05:00] Well, yeah, quite possibly, quite possibly, certainly, you know, you go that muddy, slightly muddier color if you're, if you've got slightly darker hair. Uh, and my one actually, it can actually bleach the, bleach the color out of my, uh, little logotic quite actually well, unfortunately.

[00:05:19] AMANDA: Well, I'll be interested to, talk more about the kind of saliva and red staining around the eyes because we've actually had some feedback from some pet parents whose dogs have that issue that when they've been on our hypoallergenic balancer or the skin chews that actually that reddish staining around the eyes clears up.

[00:05:42] AMANDA: So. You never know as we talk about itchy skin and the gut skin link, which we're about to do in just a moment, uh, you never know what might come out there in relation to why that might be working. Uh, so without further ado, let's move on to itchy skin. It's something [00:06:00] that's super frustrating as a pet parent.

[00:06:02] AMANDA: Like you really feel for your dogs when you see them doing all manner of things, but what will you be noticing? If your dog has got, I mean, yes, there's scratching, but what are the other kinds of symptoms that manifest for dogs if they've got a, a sort of itchy skin or pruritus problem?

[00:06:19] ANNA: Well, the itching is the most common, but scratching.

[00:06:23] ANNA: Licking, rubbing, sometimes you'll see your dog kind of roll over and just kind of scuff their back against the, you know, carpet a lot. You'll start, if they do it often enough to cause damage to the skin, you'll start seeing ulcers and reddish things. But Sometimes little postules or pustules when it gets really bad.

[00:06:43] ANNA: Um, the skin itself. Um, when a dog has itchy skin or puritus, often the skin actually itself is quite dry and flaky. So you will sometimes see that. Um, but a whole host of other things. And. It's really [00:07:00] uncomfortable for them. Sometimes also you'll see itchy ears as well and itchy pores. So it's not just the skin.

[00:07:07] ANNA: It's, uh, everything can be itchy for dermatitis in particular. Then we're really talking about. You know, the skin and the skin underlying the coat and that one was actually happening there is the pet starting to, is reacting, if you like, to a foreign invader or an antigen. And when it sees or sees this antigen, if you like the bad guys, it releases antibodies, which like superheroes, if you watch Marvel and inflammatory compounds, which I suppose like the, Wow.

[00:07:41] ANNA: I suppose like, like the artillery, maybe. Anyway, it does this in an effort to cure itself. And this is, it's these inflammatory compounds that are actually. causing this itch. So that's what actually dermatitis and itchy skin actually is. And then in terms of the common [00:08:00] causes, which I'm sure you're going to ask me next, allergies.

[00:08:02] ANNA: I

[00:08:03] AMANDA: was. Funny you took the words right out of my mouth. Funny

[00:08:06] ANNA: that's Amanda. Some of the most common causes include, uh, well, environmental ones are a big thing. So I think dust, pollen, plants. You know, anything and everything. Food's another one that we'll talk about later. Flea and tick infestations. And this can be either from the infestation itself, or allergic to the actual dust mite, or flea, or tick.

[00:08:31] ANNA: Skin infections is another one. Or if the dog, you know, is from toxins within, that then goes on and causes the same response. Chemicals and toxins in, in the house or environment and all that can be things like shampoos and lotions, creams, this that and the other, you know, so this is why actually you got to be careful when you're washing your dog that you, you choose a dog shampoo.

[00:08:57] ANNA: Don't use your own because the chances [00:09:00] are it will upset their skin and I do know this from bitter experience unfortunately. Nutritional deficiencies, all this is somewhat rarer nowadays, but, but still around. And a compromised skin barrier function, that's kind of a posh way of saying that the skin's kind of letting stuff in and triggering these inflammatory cycles.

[00:09:21] ANNA: And that skin barrier actually, which we'll talk about later as well, is super, super important because the skin is really the body's major defense mechanism against attack from things like bacteria, virus, and chemicals. Probably gave you a bit more than you wanted there.

[00:09:36] AMANDA: So what, what actually causes the, sorry, what actually causes the skin barrier to function less effectively?

[00:09:44] ANNA: Yeah, look, the skin barrier, the skin itself is made up of three main Layers, the outside, the middle, and the bottom layer, the epidermis, the dermis, and the um, I've forgotten what the bottom layer is called after that, the [00:10:00] subdermis, the sub, that's all right, top, middle, and bottom, sounds pretty good, anyway, they all do, uh, slightly different things, the, the epidermis is that main Barrier function.

[00:10:12] ANNA: And so that can break down for a number of reasons. Um, so nutritional deficiencies is one. Also through disease states that also alters the turnover of the cells. Physical damage is another one. And dryness. Uh, which it relates often back to nutritional compromise. When the skin's really dry, then it gets flaky and that's when it's more prone to damage.

[00:10:37] ANNA: So there's lots of things that do impact skin barrier function. And that's one of the, when you come to treating these sorts of conditions, that's one of the things you do focus on.

[00:10:47] AMANDA: And what about stress and anxiety? Is there a relationship between that and skin barrier function as well?

[00:10:53] ANNA: Oh, absolutely.

[00:10:54] ANNA: Because repetitive behaviours like scratching are not always driven by actually having [00:11:00] a scratch. And you sometimes see that I'm actually One of these people that when I get anxious or nervous, I go and scratch that part of my head and it's not itchy, it's just I'm nervous and your dogs and cats are exactly the same.

[00:11:13] ANNA: So anxious behavior typically increases licking and scratching and rubbing and you know, you do this enough and your skins, their skin can only take that much and you physically damage the barriers. That's a kind of physical damage. And then of course the You know, the saliva of, uh, particularly if they're doing a lot of licking, the saliva contains bacteria and you're seeding infection there.

[00:11:37] ANNA: And if you're scratching, you're physically denting and damaging that surface. So anxious pets often have. a compromised skin barrier function.

[00:11:47] AMANDA: So, how common is, is a skin issue? And, and is it equally common across dogs and cats? Yeah, actually

[00:11:53] ANNA: it's incredibly common. And it's probably about, um, 15 percent of all dogs will have it.[00:12:00]

[00:12:00] ANNA: at some point suffer from some form of dermatitis and atopic dermatitis seems to be the most common. There's a few forms of dermatitis. You've got nutritional dermatitis that we'll touch on, atopic dermatitis and seborrheic, seborrheic dermatitis and atopic one's the one that is really the most common and that's that dermatitis that's really the response of the body to a foreign invader, if you like.

[00:12:28] ANNA: Uh, in terms of cats and dogs, actually cats seem quite a bit less susceptible. In fact, the incidence of cat atopic dermatitis in cats is reported around, around about the 5 percent mark. So for cats with skin conditions at least. So they seem to be, Certainly less susceptible than dogs, which is pretty interesting, actually.

[00:12:52] AMANDA: Are there some reasons why that's the case?

[00:12:54] ANNA: Yeah, yeah. So there's a few postulated reasons. So they seem to have a different immune [00:13:00] system in some regards in that they're less prone to to developing atopic dermatitis, so they respond to things differently. It's a bit like food allergies in that respect, I suppose.

[00:13:11] ANNA: So, dogs, you know, certainly have a really robust and sensitive one and respond to lots of things, whereas cats tend to be a bit less reactive. They have a different skin structure. Cats have fewer sebaceous glands, and that actually makes it a bit more difficult for allergens to penetrate the skin and trigger an immune response, and that's different to dogs.

[00:13:33] ANNA: Cats are actually natural groomers. Oh, I would have actually thought this would make it worse, but Yeah,

[00:13:38] AMANDA: because they're doing lots of

[00:13:38] ANNA: licking, right? Yeah, that's right. But, but perhaps all this grooming is actually helping to remove allergens from the skin and prevent them from actually staying there long enough to cause a reaction, so that's one of the theories.

[00:13:52] ANNA: And then there's some environmental factors. So cats are often indoor cats, so, you know, they're probably exposed to lower environmental allergens, [00:14:00] such as pollens or molts, for example, that's typical trigger for dermatitis in dogs. And, you know, there might be some dietary reasons as well, although it's kind of a bit difficult to say for sure.

[00:14:13] ANNA: But, the key thing is, although it's less common in cats, it definitely happens. So again, if a, if your cat develops an itchy skin condition, it's best to go and see your vet. Um, pretty quickly, don't let it go in a festal way.

[00:14:26] AMANDA: So, if your dog's got itchy skin, What are you going to do? What's the sort of treatment kind of hierarchy here?

[00:14:33] ANNA: Well, it's actually pretty similar for dogs and cats in that regard. I mean, the first thing you've got to do is work out what's causing your dermatitis. So that's identifying the root cause and trigger. So what's the allergen? Uh, for example, is it dust mites? Is it flea infestation? Is it, is it food? And that can take a significant period of time.

[00:14:56] ANNA: And that's the frustrating thing. I think for most pet owners, it, [00:15:00] it takes a long time to figure out what it is sometimes.

[00:15:02] AMANDA: I was going to say, because you made it sound so easy. Oh, we just work out what the trigger is. But I, I was just casting my mind back to our little dog Alfie. And I think, God, that let's just work out what the trigger is.

[00:15:13] AMANDA: Must have gone on for about 18 months, I reckon.

[00:15:15] ANNA: Yeah. Uh, and that's probably about the typical time periods as well. Yeah. And it's quite common, and one thing I heard in this vet class was cases went on for months and months and months. It wasn't, it wasn't a one off thing. And that's why you have, you know, specialty vets focusing in that area, because it is a really tricky area because so many things can be contributing.

[00:15:38] AMANDA: So how, how, how often, just to drill into something very specifically here, so because you know, there's a lot of discussion about, you know, are my dogs sensitive to this, that and the other thing in the food area. So. How, how common is it that a food sensitivity is the cause of itchy skin, really?

[00:15:57] ANNA: Oh, this is an interesting one.

[00:15:58] ANNA: So if [00:16:00] you read, you know, the tabloids or social media, you think that every, every bout of itchy skin is food related, but actually, In the literature, although it, it varies tremendously, it seems actually only to be about one to three percent is actually caused by, you know, a food sensitivity or allergy.

[00:16:22] ANNA: But despite this, you know, there's always some vagueness with this as well. So many vets will still go through the process of making sure it's not a food allergy.

[00:16:32] AMANDA: Okay, so back to the sort of treatment ladder, if you like. So there's some, some work that's been done to identify what the trigger is, the root cause.

[00:16:42] AMANDA: Uh, and, and then what, I guess then it's dealing with the, the acute outbreak first, right?

[00:16:47] ANNA: Yeah. So you've got to treat the symptoms. So these are typically targeted with drugs that target inflammation or itching and pain. So you're talking about steroids, antihistamines, immunosuppressors. [00:17:00] Ibuprofen even for, uh, pain and inflammation.

[00:17:03] ANNA: And then once you've got that bit done, then the focus turns to really working on this skin barrier function. So this is where you might get lotions and creams from your vet to help keep in the moisture. So think about human eczema patients here. So keep in the moisture, reduce the Itching to stop. So stop the, uh, the pet actually making worse and try to repair the skin barrier.

[00:17:30] ANNA: And sometimes these are topical.

[00:17:32] AMANDA: Yeah. I was going to say, cause you, you're not always just, uh, repairing the skin barrier topically though, right?

[00:17:37] ANNA: No. And that's where nutritional strategies come in. So once you've dealt with your skin barrier topically, sometimes you might also need to add in antibiotics for infection and then comes to the nutritional And I'm sure you're going to ask me now, so what are they?

[00:17:54] ANNA: So I'm going to tell you anyway,

[00:17:57] AMANDA: I am, I am

[00:17:59] ANNA: exactly [00:18:00]

[00:18:00] AMANDA: read my mind.

[00:18:01] ANNA: You know, like so many things we talk about the Amiga freeze come out. First cab off the ranks again. I mean, these things are pretty amazing, really. So just to remind you when I'm talking about omega 3 fatty acids, I'm talking about those fatty acids in fish oil called EPA and DHA that have really long names that are hard to pronounce, and I might trip over them today.

[00:18:25] ANNA: Anyway, the reason they are so good in the skin is they down regulate the production of these enzymes. Inflammatory cosanoid, and these are the things that are produced in response, if you like, to the antigen or the bad guy, has a mechanism of defense. And that's the bit, if you recall, causes the itching.

[00:18:46] ANNA: So anything you can do to down regulate that can help, can help reduce the itching. And they also directly improve the skin barrier function because they're incorporated into cell membranes. And the other thing is they, [00:19:00] they just regulate the immune response. So they're really, really important and omega 3s really are one of the mainstays in nutritional supplementation.

[00:19:10] ANNA: In general, fish oil is preferred to flaxseed oil and that's because you get the goodies straight away, whereas flaxseed, the pet has to go and convert it to make its own EPA and DHA.

[00:19:23] AMANDA: What about probiotics? Do they have a role here?

[00:19:27] ANNA: Yeah, they do. So this is an emerging area and actually many dogs with atopic dermatitis actually do have gut dysbiosis.

[00:19:35] ANNA: What is not clear, is it, is it chicken and egg is one causing the other? Don't know. Um, but certainly this gut skin link is now present. It's pretty established in the literature. Now the only thing is it's, it's hard. Some dogs respond and some don't. And it's probably because the outcomes are quite strain dependent and they're also dog dependent.

[00:19:58] ANNA: It depends what their [00:20:00] microbiome is, uh, is, and it's different in every dog. So some dogs may need different strains to other to others to address that this, this dysbiosis. So it's not quite as simple as just whacking in a probiotic, uh, unfortunately. Um, lots of work done also on prebiotic supplementation, and maybe this is, is a better, or not a better, but a useful route in that by providing lots of opportunities for the, if you like, the good bacteria dysbiosis from within.

[00:20:37] ANNA: There's always a problem with probiotics as is supplementing, does change a population, but you're never quite sure what that, what the underlying populations will like to begin with, unless you do a lot of tests, which, which not many people actually do.

[00:20:51] AMANDA: What about other supplements? Any, anything else on the list of things that's really useful?

[00:20:56] ANNA: Yeah, actually a ton of stuff. So bioactive [00:21:00] lipids is one actually, and these are produced in response to stress and timid, And these are sometimes supplemented to reduce histamine and inflammatory factors like prostaglandins and so forth. Other ones are plain old vitamins and minerals. And in terms of nutrition, vitamin A, E and zinc are often supplemented when there's a, Uh, skin barrier issue or, or for itchy skin.

[00:21:27] ANNA: Um, sometimes nutritional deficiencies are actually the whole root cause. So correcting that as well, it's pretty pertinent, but A is important for turnover. E is an antioxidant and zinc is very important in barrier function and immune function. So that's why they're so important there. And then you've also got a lot of supplements.

[00:21:48] ANNA: So when I'm talking supplements, I mean botanicals and other things that can be looked at. So curcuma from turmeric, licorice and lutein all have supporting [00:22:00] data. And look, they probably work through lots of different ways, antioxidants, antimicrobial, and maybe, and also anti inflammatory pathways. And, but there are also a lot of Chinese herbs that have a large body of supporting data.

[00:22:15] ANNA: And usually that's because they're working almost like a steroid. So they're taming down inflammation again. And again, it's also probably due to their antioxidant properties. And then on the oil front, borage oil and evening primrose, sources of fatty acid called gamma linoleic acid, help skin barrier function as well.

[00:22:39] ANNA: And then you'll see these in some of the skin and coat formulations, commercial formulations out there. And then top coconut oil is another one that people use anecdotally, or they tend to use it topically. So there's certainly lots of stuff out there to try. Uh, and then in, in. From a clinic sense, omega [00:23:00] 3s, bioactives, uh, lipids, probiotics, supplementing with vitamins and minerals and antioxidants are really the key supplemental approach, as well as making sure that the whole diet's nutritionally balanced.

[00:23:13] ANNA: You know, you don't want to find you just had, say, for example, a vitamin A deficiency, which is pretty rare, but, but can happen from time to time.

[00:23:22] AMANDA: So let's, let's talk a little bit. But briefly about, uh, the less common area, which is, uh, food allergies. So how are you actually going to figure out that there's a food allergy going on?

[00:23:35] AMANDA: There's a process, isn't there? It's sort of an elimination diet.

[00:23:38] ANNA: Yeah, absolutely. So as I said, food allergies. Probably about, anyway, 1 3 percent of all cases. But the first key thing is they're not seasonal and they tend to occur out of the blue. Just a quick explanation. So, the bad guys, if you like, in foods are usually the proteins.

[00:23:59] ANNA: [00:24:00] Uh, in, uh, sort of the 40 to 70 kilo Dalton range, so, you know, chunky enough to cause an issue. And typically meat and animal proteins, dairies, eggs, wheat, corn, soy, and with that in mind, so when you go on to, if, when you, if you suspect a food allergy, the first thing you want to do. is try and get rid of those.

[00:24:23] ANNA: So you can do it two ways. So the easy way is to use a hypoallergenic diet. And that's one where you take, uh, you, where the protein size has been reduced to very small range, usually under 10 kilodalton, if I get it right, and sometimes, uh, smaller. And This is the point where the proteins, where the body no longer recognizes these proteins as a threat.

[00:24:49] ANNA: And then if you get a positive response, so you get a 50 percent improvement, then, you know, at that point, a food allergy is diagnosed. It doesn't always [00:25:00] work. And even from there, many vets will then go through a process of going through what we call an elimination diet strategy, which is a very long and painful strategy.

[00:25:10] ANNA: But essentially, if you Being on a hypoallergenic diet, then you go through different diets with, with different proteins. And the key thing is they have to be single protein diets with very limited ingredients. So one protein, one carbohydrate, and the essential nutrients. And you work, work through these until you can identify what causes the response.

[00:25:35] ANNA: The, the other method is, is the elimination diet strategy from, from the very beginning. And this is where you, you transfer your pet onto a diet with a novel protein usually. You run it for about eight weeks. Well, eight weeks. And you're looking for an improvement in response. [00:26:00] Now, if you see that improvement, and it's usually a 50 percent improvement, then you move your pet onto a challenge phase.

[00:26:08] ANNA: And that's a two week challenge phase, introducing, putting back the, what was considered the offending protein. And that's the, that's then used to diagnose. what the offending protein is. This process can take ages because you can imagine you have to go through all the different proteins to work out which is the problem.

[00:26:29] AMANDA: The novel protein, just super briefly, explanation or definition of a novel protein?

[00:26:34] ANNA: Yeah, it's actually not got a formal definition. It's basically one that the animal's unlikely to have been exposed to. So, in US, kangaroo would be a good protein. Novel protein in Australia, well, kangaroo is quite common, so maybe a fish, but even that's quite common, so you might then look at an insect, for example, as a novel protein.

[00:26:56] ANNA: Or um

[00:26:57] AMANDA: But is it what the dog's been having? Yes. So [00:27:00] if your dog's been having beef all the time, then you could happily feed it roo as a novel protein if they haven't really been exposed to much

[00:27:06] ANNA: roo. That's a good way of putting it. Well done, Amanda.

[00:27:10] AMANDA: So look, just finally, before we leave the subject of itchy, itchy skin, this is actually not itchy skin, but what if the coat is just like dull or brittle?

[00:27:22] AMANDA: What's going on there? And what do you do about it?

[00:27:24] ANNA: Yeah, look, it's like skin disorders, it still can be non nutritional, so it could be infection or disease and so forth, or it can be nutrition related. A fun fact actually. Uh, for coats, dogs actually use a tremendous amount of their energy for growing their hair.

[00:27:44] ANNA: So for a long haired dog, it's actually about 20 to 30 percent of their protein goes to just growing their coat. And it's about 10 percent for short haired dogs. So you can see pretty quick, you know, it's amazing. I'm not sure if I can claim the same for my hair, by [00:28:00] the way. I don't know if I can claim that second serving or not.

[00:28:05] AMANDA: Oh, I'm going to tell my husband this. I'm going to say, Oh, look, I need that larger dinner because I'm, you know, Growing hair. I love it. And

[00:28:15] ANNA: I suppose it makes sense because what is hair? It's keratin, right? Which is a protein. So, so I suppose it does make sense. Um, so you can see how nutritional issues can crop up, uh, particularly in the rapid growth phases.

[00:28:29] ANNA: So that's like puppies or, or growing, you know, early young adults as they're shooting up or outwards, I suppose, dog. Uh, and, uh, It, you know, it can be, it's often caused by nutritional mismatch. So, um, and that can happen, as I said, from mismatching their protein needs to, uh, uh, to how much is being fed or being fed a poor quality protein.

[00:28:55] ANNA: But it can also be caused by things like deficiencies in fatty acids, [00:29:00] particularly the omega 3 you do need both. For fatty acid deficiencies, you tend to get more matting and dullness. And then protein deficiencies, hair falling out, not growing, uneven, and so forth. And then, uh, the other thing to watch out for is mineral deficiencies.

[00:29:20] ANNA: So we talked about copper, uh, before. Um, and that's where you can get a reddish tinge, or you can get graying around the face, or a very dull and thin coat. And then zinc is another one. And, uh, Again, that's one that's often supplemented when there's skin and co tissue. Now, just one point to say, you know, minerals are a funny thing.

[00:29:44] ANNA: So, if you have too much zinc, you can reduce copper absorption. If you have too much copper, you can reduce zinc absorption. So everything has to be

[00:29:54] AMANDA: Don't go willy nilly adding in a bunch of minerals is the story there then.

[00:29:58] ANNA: Exactly, [00:30:00] exactly.

[00:30:01] AMANDA: Well, that is a great way to finish up on itchy skin. Obviously, it's a huge area, so we've really just skimmed it.

[00:30:09] AMANDA: Skimmed the surface and that is a natural segue into this week's food hack.

[00:30:15] INTRO: It's time for Home Food Hacks with Dr. Anna.

[00:30:18] AMANDA: What would you do as a quick food hack to boost a healthy coat? Do you

[00:30:24] ANNA: know what? If you happen to have chia seed oil handy, just a teaspoon of that on your dog's food gives them a good whack of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.

[00:30:35] ANNA: And I know it's not the EPA and DHA, but the omega 6s, uh, are also super important for skin and coat's health. If you don't have the oil to hand, you can use a spoonful of seeds as well. Uh, super tasty. Uh, Not quite as oil rich as the oil obviously, but still, you know, worth a quick hack.

[00:30:58] AMANDA: Thank you so much, [00:31:00] Anna.

[00:31:00] AMANDA: That's been a really great insight into itchy skin and it is genuinely a very complicated area and so we'll put a couple of links in the show notes for you. We really hope you've enjoyed this week's episode of the Pet Nutrition Show. We'd love to see you listen to us next time. And we'd also love to hear your review.

[00:31:20] AMANDA: If you've got any questions, feel free to post those on Instagram or Facebook, and we'll see you next time.

[00:31:27] INTRO: The Pet Nutrition Show is proudly presented by Planet A Pet Food, bringing dogs a flexitarian diet that's good for them and the planet.

Join us in future episodes of the Pet Nutrition Show as we dig deeper into topics like the ideal protein content for pets, the importance of gut health, and the role of pet food in waste management. Let's create a sustainable and healthy future for our pets and the environment.

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