How Our Skin & Coat Supplements Work
Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff

How our skin & coat products work The wide array of ingredients in skin and coat products can be quite confusing. What are fatty acids? What is biotin? What does brewer’s yeast do? Do antioxidants help maintain healthy skin?

Fatty acids are the building blocks of lipids (fats and oils). Cats and dogs can produce some of the fatty acids they need, but not all of them. Two important types of essential fatty acids are Omega-3 and Omega-6. Supplementation with certain Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids can help support a sleek, healthy coat and supple skin.
The best products are loaded with Omega-3s or Omega-6s in the right proportions for healthy skin and coat maintenance. Combination products (with smaller amounts of both Omega-3s and -6s) are good all-around products – but they are not as effective as the loaded products.

All of these products are non-prescription supplements specially formulated for your pets.

These include:
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
EPA is the workhorse of the Omega-3 fatty acids and is incorporated into the cell membrane.

These include:
Linoleic acid (LA)
Gamma linolenic acid (GLA)
Dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA)
Arachidonic acid (AA)
LA is important because it optimizes water permeability in the skin.

Both AA (an Omega-6 fatty acid) and EPA (an Omega-3 fatty acid) are found in cell membranes. When a cell is damaged, AA is released from the cell membrane and is converted by enzymes into substances that cause inflammation and itching. EPA is also released when a cell is damaged. It competes with AA for the same metabolic enzymes. The presence of EPA results in the production of fewer inflammatory substances. DHA has a similar effect. So DHA and EPA decrease the harmful effects of AA. This is why DHA and EPA may be helpful for dogs with itchy skin.

Biotin is one of the B vitamins. Biotin is necessary for growth, energy and cellular repair. One of the clinical signs of biotin deficiency is dermatitis. Biotin is often used in combination with fatty acids to help maintain healthy skin. Biotin may be found as a supplemental powder containing just biotin, or in a supplement such as brewer’s yeast, which also contains other B vitamins.

Yeast are microscopic fungi, singlecelled organisms of the plant kingdom. Various species are abundant throughout the environment. Brewer’s yeast contains essential B vitamins including biotin, minerals including zinc, and high quality proteins. These can support a healthy skin and haircoat.

Using antioxidants helps slow down and prevent the free radical damage that speeds up aging and cell damage throughout the entire body, including the skin. Antioxidants work together to neutralize free radicals. Each one works in a slightly different pathway, so products that contain antioxidants generally contain several. As antioxidants neutralize free radicals, the antioxidants are used up and must be replaced.

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