Skin and Coat
Which Skin Supplements Are Best for My Pet? What Causes Pet Odor? Pet Conditions That Benefit From Omega 3 Allergy (Atopy) Treatment Options for Cats Managing Your Dog's Dry Winter Skin Preventing and Controlling Pet Hair Loss Caring for Your Pet's Skin and Coat Why Do Dogs Shed? Shampoos for Dogs with Skin Allergies Fly Control for Your Dog Benefits of Giving Your Pet Fish Oils & Fatty Acids Caring for Your Pet's Skin and Coat Treating Your Horse's Skin Problems How to Bathe Your Dog Choosing a Pet Shampoo for Your Dog or Cat Common Causes of Your Pet's Persistent Itch Managing Your Dog's Skin Allergies Understanding Demodectic Mange (Red Mange) Finding a Lump or Wart on Your Pet Promote Healthy Skin and Coat in Your Cat Solutions for Your Cat's Skin Infections How to Treat 5 Common Skin Diseases in Pets Remedies to Treat Pet Skin Infections How Often Should you Wash your Dog? How to Remove Skunk Odor from Dogs & Cats Top 4 Allergies in Pets Remedies for Pets with Skin Allergies (Atopy) Reducing Your Dog's Shedding Managing Your Cat's Dry Winter Skin Manage Your Dog's Itching Caused By Allergies Natural Remedies for Pets with Allergies & Atopy Eliminating Pet Odor Do Dog and Cats Need Calcium? Maintaining Your Dog's Skin and Coat Health How to Reduce Cat Hairballs Quick Itch Relief For Your Pet How to Choose the Best Shampoo for Your Pet Treating Your Pet's Hot Spots How to Treat Your Dog's Bacterial Skin Infection Benefits of Giving Your Pet Fish Oil (Omega 3)
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Which Skin Supplements Are Best for My Pet?

Skin disease is one of the most common medical conditions seen in small pet veterinary practice. Prescription medications are certainly important in managing many pet skin diseases; however, nutritional supplements are also increasingly used, especially for skin allergies. Many pets with excessive itching and secondary inflammation of the skin will benefit from fatty acid supplements, which often help to reduce inflammation and itching. Although these supplements may not work immediately, with prolonged use, pets often benefit by having decreased allergic skin symptoms and a shinier coat.

Usually it will take 3-4 months to truly see the maximal benefits of many fatty acid products. Often, these supplements allow pet owners to use less prescription medication than when the medication is used alone. Many skin supplements come in a capsule form that can be punctured and added to your pet's food, or easily hidden in a treat, such as Greenies Pill Pockets, or in a small amount of peanut butter or cream cheese. Other formulations can be easily sprinkled onto your pet's food as a palatable powder that is usually readily accepted by even the most finicky pet.

Omega 3 fatty acids

Omega 3 fatty acids are important nutritional supplements to consider for all pets. Not only does fatty acid supplementation benefit your pet's skin health, but additional benefits are seen in your pet's joints, heart, kidneys, and brain. The ideal intake of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids should be 5:1. Because of the high amounts of Omega 6 fatty acids in pet food and treats, it is usually necessary to supplement with Omega 3 fatty acids to get a healthy 5:1 balance. This balance is essential to avoid promoting unnecessary inflammation and allergic reactions in the skin and other organs of the body, including the brain, eyes, and ears.

When choosing an Omega 3 fatty acid supplement, there are several factors to consider. Freshness is essential, given that fish and fats can quickly become rancid. Purity is important as well—these products should be free of environmental toxins. Wild caught fish from open ocean waters are usually superior to products using farmed fish. Look for products that are research-based and with pharmaceutical manufacturing standards. Products should be stabilized naturally with Vitamin E and/or rosemary extract.

Omega 6 fatty acids

Omega 6 fatty acids are chains of molecules linked with single or double bonds. The location of the double bond determines whether a fatty acid is called an Omega 3 or Omega 6 fatty acid. Omega 6 fatty acids have the first double bond at the 6th carbon, and include linoleic acid (LA) and GLA (gamma linoleic acid). Omega 6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation in the body; therefore, their supplementation is particularly useful in conditions where inflammation is essential to your pet's health, such as fighting off certain viral or bacterial infections and cancers. Omega 6 fatty acids also seem to help with improving dry coats, as well as managing the skin disorder known as seborrhea. In other cases where inflammation is involved, including allergies and autoimmune disorders, it is better to reach for an Omega 3 fatty acid supplement.

Vet Tip

Because of the high fiber content in fatty acid supplements, start by giving small amounts and increase to the recommended level over one or two weeks.