Go for the Gleam in Your Dog's Coat

Omega fatty acids hold the key to glossy dog coats.

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Some newer, naturally based dog food companies avoid AAFCO standards, which are strictly voluntary guidelines. If your dog's food hasn't been AAFCO-tested, try switching to one that has been. You're likely to see a glowing coat within two months.

While most dogs thrive on AAFCO-tested food, some still don't develop a show-ring gloss. As scientists continue to hunt for nutrients to maximize health, breeders and kennel owners turn to various supplements to bring on the bloom. In the past, the shining secret might have been cottage cheese, cod liver oil or corn oil. Today, it might be a blend of herbal antioxidants with vitamin E and fatty acids. But an overly desperate approachtreating the dull coat with skin-promoting additives in random fashion can backfire. Calcium supplements, for example, can bind zinc in the diet and damage the coat, while too much vitamin A can cause thickened skin as well as serious systemic disease.

Science sometimes confirms the truths in many traditional dog remedies. For example, the whey in cottage cheese is full of B vitamins, an ingredient that old-time farm dog diets lacked. It's also been discovered cod liver oil is high in vitamin A, vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids, while plant oils are rich in omega 6 fatty acids, all of which are important for skin health. The biggest breakthroughs in skin nutrition, however, have focused on the omega fatty acids. Science began to reveal during the last five years how these fatty acids, long found in home coat remedies, improve a dog's coat and health.

However, fatty acids do more than make a coat glow. "Each type of fatty acid has a different effect on inflammation," said Dan Carey, DVM, a research veterinarian with The Iams Company Technical Center. "The red bricks (omega 6) increase inflammation, and the blue ones (omega 3) decrease it. But a body needs both; you just can't do away with all the red bricks or the house won't stand. What's vital are the correct proportions."

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