Top 10 foods for skin & coat


Keep your dog’s skin and coat looking and feeling good with these power-packed whole foods.

It’s okay to add a little variety to your dog’s diet, especially food rich in nutrients that will benefit her health. Your dog will love it; just don’t tell her how good these foods are for her!

1. Chia seeds are a rich source of B vitamins, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, protein and zinc, and they’re packed with antioxidants too. They contain lots of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based form of Omega 3s. They are gluten free. Chia nourishes skin from the inside out, because its high levels of Omega 3 help combat chronic skin inflammation. Including chia in your dog’s diet is as simple as “a sprinkle a day”. Or make a simple chia “pudding” with 1/3 cup chia seeds and 2 cups filtered water. Mix, leave for ten minutes, and serve. This pudding can be stored in the refrigerator and added to your dog’s food. A little goes a long way.

2. Eggs are nutritional powerhouses, containing the most bioavailable protein. They’re like a one-ingredient recipe for great skin and coats. Many consider eggs the number one food for hair, giving it strength and luster. Eggs contain Vitamin A, which supports the repair of cell damage, and lutein, which helps keep skin well hydrated and plays an important role in tissue repair. The zinc in eggs also supports skin health and shiny hair. Egg yolks are a valuable source of biotin, a B vitamin which helps promote healthy skin and coats; hair loss, skin irritation, lesions and fungus can be the result of a biotin deficiency. Biotin/vitamin H can be effective in treating allergic reactions and skin conditions.

3. Almonds contain the entire vitamin E family, tocopherols and tocotrienols – alphatocopherol is one of the keys to healthy skin and hair. Almonds are also an excellent source of B vitamins, copper, manganese, magnesium, zinc and bioflavonoids, and offer a trace amount of Omega 3 fatty acids. Since almonds have a high fat content, it is important to store them in a cool place, away from sunlight; better yet, you can store them in the refrigerator for several months, or in the freezer for up to a year.

4. Coconut, when organic and unsweetened, is the perfect sprinkle for your dog’s food and great for making treats. Give coconut chips a try too. Coconut contains mediumchain saturated fats, which are transformed into energy and contain special properties that act as anti-inflammatory agents to decrease bacterial growth, irritation and inflammation in the body. Eating raw coconut can reduce the severity of bacterial and inflammatory skin conditions.

5. Carob is rich in natural sugars and contains all the principal vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, magnesium, silica, vitamins A, B1, B2, niacin, and protein. Carob is considered an ideal “survival food” because it requires no preparation, lasts a long time, and has no special storage requirements. It does not contain the caffeine and theobromine found in chocolate, so is perfectly safe for dogs. Its vitamin E supports skin health, and it has antiviral and antibacterial properties. Carob contains no oxalic acid, so it does not interfere with calcium absorption.

6. Oats are a strength-giving cereal. They are low in starch and high in mineral content, especially potassium and phosphorus. Oats also contain calcium, magnesium, the B vitamins and iron. They support healthy skin and hair; one of the key ways they do this is by supporting your dog’s gastrointestinal system and helping remove toxins from the body.

7. Liver from grass-fed animals provides a perfect punch for enhanced skin health. Nutrients include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, copper, vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D and E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folic acid and biotin. Try chicken livers for a flavorful boost of Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids.

8. Wild Salmon canned or cooked (not raw), is one of the very best sources of Omega 3s, which support the skin and coat. It provides selenium too. Recent studies have focused on the protein and amino acid content of wild salmon; researchers have discovered that small bioactive protein molecules called bioactive peptides, and one in particular, calcitonin, have signifi cant potential health benefits. The human form of calcitonin, made by the thyroid gland, is a key hormone that helps regulate and stabilize the balance of collagen and minerals in bone and surrounding tissue.

9. Cranberries have been used historically to treat a variety of ailments, from rheumatoid disorders, scurvy and fever, to skin wounds and eczema. Cranberries contain a variety of bioactive components, including antioxidant proanthocyanidins, anthocyanins and ellagic acid. Anthocyanins are the pigments that give cranberries their rich red colour and have been found to have the strongest antioxidant power of 150 flavonoids tested, even moreso than vitamin E. Anthocyanins have an anti-inflammatory action, and can even help lessen allergic reactions in dogs.

10. Sweet Potatoes are considered a super food for skin. They contain a high level of vitamin A and beta-carotene, and are a great source of vitamin E. Sweet potatoes also contain calcium, iron, folate, potassium, copper and thiamine. The vitamin C in sweet potatoes helps accelerate healing and support collagen production.

Try these two delicious recipes below:

Chia coconut crunch truffles


  • 1½ cups rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 1½ tablespoons chia seeds
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • ¼ cup carob chips

Choose organic ingredients whenever possible. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Combine all ingredients, except the carob chips. Ensure ingredients are well incorporated, then fold in the carob chips. Form small balls of dough with hands and place on cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely before serving. Store in a Ziploc bag or airtight container, in the refrigerator or freezer.

This recipe can also be prepared and served as a “raw” whole food treat. Simply skip the baking process. If you like, raw truffles can be rolled in coconut or carob for extra pizzazz. Store in a Ziploc bag or airtight container in the fridge or freezer

Chicken liver fritters


  • ½ pound chicken livers
  • 1 egg
  • potato flour for dredging
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon first pressed olive oil
  • oregano

Whisk egg in a small bowl. Set aside. Put about ½ cup of potato flour in another small bowl. Begin to heat olive oil in pan, on medium high. Dunk chicken livers in egg, then in the potato fl our, and place in the pan with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and other herbs of your choice. Cook until there is no pink left. The chicken livers will be golden brown in color from the egg and fl our mix. Cool completely before serving, as a very special treat, and store in the refrigerator or freezer.

After cooking and cooling, chicken liver fritters can be thinly sliced and dehydrated or dried in a low heat oven, for a great training treat.

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Audi Donamor has been successfully creating special needs diets for companion animals for two decades. She founded the University of Guelph’s Smiling Blue Skies® Cancer Fund and Smiling Blue Skies® Fund for Innovative Research. She is the proud recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and was honored with the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, for her work in cancer, from the University of Guelph/Ontario Veterinary College. The Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund is also the recipient of the “Pets + Us” Community Outreach Champion Award.