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Nutrition for Magnificent Skin and Coat

By Maury Docton, DVM

Healthy Skin and Coat Are Key Protection

A magnificent skin and coat is not only beautiful, but an important health attribute. The dog’s skin and coat play a major role in overall health. They protect the body from injury and infection, help control temperature, and act as the first line of defense against environmental threats.

Skin and coat are also important reinforcers for the human-animal bond. Healthy skin and a soft, shiny coat promote positive interactions with pets.

High-Quality Nutrition is Vital for Healthy Skin & Coat

The skin and coat is a complex organ that includes multiple layers and structures like hair follicles and oil glands. A high-quality diet rich in essential nutrients such as protein, fat, vitamins, minerals like zinc and copper, and fatty acids is vital for healthy skin and coat. These nutrients help maintain key skin and coat structure and functions, protect the skin, and support wound healing.

A dog’s coat is about 95% protein, and up to 35% of a dog’s daily protein intake may be needed for skin and coat maintenance. The essential amino acids found in the animal-based protein in Eukanuba and Iams are important sources of nourishment for the skin and coat.

Vitamins and minerals are also essential for the development of healthy skin and hair coat. These nutrients support skin repair (vitamin A), protect skin from damage (vitamin E), aid in skin metabolism (biotin, riboflavin, zinc), and support pigmentation (copper).

An Optimal Fatty Acid Ratio Enhances Skin and Coat Health

Fats are especially important for healthy skin and a soft, shiny coat. Fats from the dog’s food are incorporated into skin cells as fatty acids. The fatty acids become part of the skin cell membrane and help maintain skin moisture and integrity.

Linoleic acid is an essential omega-6 fatty acid found in ingredients like chicken or animal fat and corn oil. Without enough linoleic acid dogs and cats may experience dull, dry coat, hair loss, greasy skin, and increased susceptibility to skin inflammation.1 Most commercial dog and cat diets contain more than adequate amounts of linoleic and other omega-6 fatty acids. Because these fatty acids can be converted to compounds that increase susceptibility to skin inflammation, it is important to balance the amount of omega-6 fatty acids in the diet with omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce susceptibility to inflammation.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in oils from fish and some plants (canola and flax). By carefully regulating the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in food, we can affect the ratio of fatty acids in the cell membranes and, therefore, the inflammatory process in the animal. Eukanuba research has proven that combining fat sources in the diet at a ratio of 5-10 omega-6 fatty acids to 1 omega-3 fatty acid results in excellent skin and coat health for dogs. This precise balance and blend of fatty acids enhances the quality of a dog’s coat by helping keeping skin cells healthy, supports the natural healing process and helps rejuvenate dry skin.

Eukanuba scientists were the first to pioneer the use of an optimal ratio of omega-6:3 fatty acids in pet foods. Feeding studies have shown that a high-quality diet, like Eukanuba, with an optimal fatty acid ratio between 5:1 and 10:1 can improve skin and coat quality.2 When dogs were fed a premium diet with an optimal fatty acid ratio vs a lower-quality diet without an optimal ratio over 10 months, a significantly shinier coat was observed overall in the dogs fed the premium diet. Dogs fed a high-quality diet with animal protein and an optimal fatty acid ratio over the same period also had less skin flaking or dander than dogs fed a diet with cereal protein, without an optimal fatty acid ratio.


  • Eukanuba was the first pet food brand to pioneer the use of the optimal balance of omega-6:3 fatty acids in 1994
  • An optimal fatty acid ratio is clinically proven to promote healthy skin and coat
  • With Eukanuba, you can see healthy skin and coat in as little as 8 weeks– more shine and softness and less dander
  • Eukanuba and Iams pet foods provide 100% complete and balanced nutrition, with high-quality animal protein, vitamins and minerals for a magnificent skin and coat

Consider this... the skin and coat are the “window” to inner health

You’ve heard that beauty is more than skin deep—the same is true for health! Experts tell us that the condition of the skin and coat can reflect the dog’s overall health, vitality and nutritional status. The skin and coat is the largest organ of the dog’s body, but the internal organs receive nutrients before the skin and coat do, priority-wise. So low-quality nutrition shows in poor-quality skin and coat.

Since the body gives skin and coat low priority for nourishment, your dog’s food must be designed to include nutrients to meet skin and coat needs. Premium nutrition like Eukanuba and Iams is key to help keep a dog’s skin and coat, as well as the rest of the body, in great condition.


1 Case LP et al. Canine and Feline Nutrition. Mosby, 2000.
2 Davenport et al, 4th World Congress Vet Derm, 2000.