What Dog Food Ingredients Promote a Healthy Coat?

Beautiful Irish Setter

A dog's coat is defined as "an animal's covering of fur or hair" and is the first thing most of us notice when greeting one of our canine companions. Your dog's coat is not just a fashion statement however. It fulfills a very important role in maintaining the health and well-being of your pet and is a good indicator of overall health.

The ability to maintain a healthy coat is directly dependent on the quality of food your dog consumes. Choosing a dog food with superior ingredients is critical to the health and quality of your dog's coat.

Omega Fatty Acids:

Omega fatty acids have multiple beneficial effects for your dog's coat. In a paper published in the journal Veterinary Dermatology , researchers reported that omega fatty acids increase the skin barrier function and decrease water loss from the skin.

Fish, fish oils and chicken fat are excellent sources of fatty acids and are common ingredients in high quality dog foods. Some plant oils such as corn oil and flax seed oils are other important sources of fatty acids.


Vitamin E is used by antioxidant enzymes in the skin and can serve as an antioxidant itself. In fact many pet food companies use vitamin E as a natural antioxidant to preserve dog food. Vitamin E is often listed as alpha tocopherol or mixed tocopherol on dog food labels.

Vitamin A is essential to maintaining the integrity of skin and in keratinization. Since canine fur is made of keratin you can appreciate how essential vitamin A is to coat quality. Common sources of vitamin A in pet foods are liver, egg, and peas.


According the National Academy of Sciences, copper is important to preserving coat color because it's a component of melanin, a natural coat pigment. Copper is also vital to healthy connective tissue. Connective tissue imparts elasticity and strength to the skin, and by extension, to the coat.

The Linus Pauling institute at Oregon State University states that Zinc plays an important role in the structure of proteins and cell membranes. Zinc is also important in gene expression, communication between cells and modulation of cell death, all of which directly affects skin and coat quality.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of all of dog food ingredients essential to a healthy coat. All reputable dog food companies will have resources available to answer any questions you may have. Your family veterinarian is also an excellent source of information concerning which pet food components will help keep your dog's coat in peak condition.

Content by William Ray Fullmer DVM .