I have a 1½-year-old female Lab named Dutchi that has dry skin and dandruff problems. The vets in our town have done things to check for mites and bacteria and fungus, but nothing is coming up positive. The medicines we have tried have not changed her. I am wondering about trying fish-oil supplements for skin health that I have seen advertised. What is your recommendation on these types of supplements for dogs in this situation?
Nutritional supplements for the skin that include fish oils or other sources of essential fatty acids can be beneficial, but sorting out the options is a big challenge. There are probably more products out there that would not work for your dog than would. We probably have more products available for addition of Omega-3 fatty acids. These generally help decrease joint pain by decreasing inflammation in other parts of the body, when balanced properly. For your situation, Omega-6 fatty acids have the most benefit. They can help stabilize layers in the skin and decrease inflammation there. Getting the proper balance is the challenge.
Many oral products are available to supplement both Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. They have varying degrees of actual potency and purity. Check with your veterinary clinic, as they probably have a product they trust. If they know you would like to try that therapy, they would be happy to guide you on its use. They may also give you the option to try a prescription food that specifically adds higher levels of these fatty acids.
The food approach can be a step up in digestibility and quality of the diet. There are also products that can be applied directly to the skin, with fatty acid supplementation in mind.