Nutritionally Responsive Skin Diseases
Skin and hair health can be affected by imbalances in protein, vitamin A, vitamin E, the essential fatty acids and zinc. Poor quality food or, more likely, poor storage of commercial dog food can result in any of these imbalances and skin disease.
Greasy, flaky skin (seborrhoea) has many causes. Long-term supplementation with vitamin A improves seborrhoea in some cocker spaniels with seborrhoea that do not respond to other therapies. Improvement has also been reported in the Labrador and miniature schnauzer.
Long term vitamin E supplementation may be beneficial for Dachshunds with acanthosis nigricans, a non-itchy condition involving hair loss and increased skin pigmentation, especially in the armpits (axillae). It may also be beneficial for dogs with demodectic mange.
Essential fatty acids
The ratio of omega 6 (inflammatory) and omega 3 (less inflammatory) fatty acids in tissue such as skin can be manipulated by diet. Increasing omega 3 fatty acids in the skin can reduce itchiness for some individuals. A combination of evening primrose oil and fish oil can be effective in the long term control of allergic dermatitis in dogs.
Several breeds of dogs including the Alaskan malamute, Siberian Husky, Doberman and Great Dane may inherit a zinc malabsorption condition that leads to scaling and crusting skin and a dull, dry coat. This condition responds to zinc supplementation. All well-balanced commercial foods from reputable manufacturers have adequate zinc levels for these breeds.