May 28 , 2023
Whether you own a cat, a dog, or multiple pets, you are likely aware that health is apparent right down to their nails. Your pets use their nails for a myriad of activities, from scratching and digging to gripping and protecting. Poor nutrition can lead to brittle, breakable nails, which can trigger other health issues.
In case your pet has a severe condition, always consult your vet first. While diet plays a crucial role, your vet can identify other contributing factors and propose a comprehensive treatment plan that may include dietary changes. Just like humans, pet nail health depends on the intake of essential nutrients such as omega fatty acids and biotin.
Maintaining a balanced diet that includes essential nutrients can help support overall nail health. Here are some types of foods that are beneficial for promoting healthy nails:
1. Protein-Rich Foods: Nails are made of a protein called keratin, so consuming enough protein is important. Include foods like meats, poultry, fish, eggs, goat milk, sheep milk or kefir in your cat or dogs diets.
2. Biotin-Rich Foods: Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, is important for nail strength. Foods rich in biotin include eggs, cauliflower, or spinach.
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for overall health and can help improve nail strength and prevent brittleness. Good sources of omega-3s include fatty fish (such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines), or chia seeds.
4. Iron-Rich Foods: Iron deficiency can lead to brittle nails, so it's important to include iron-rich foods in your diet. Foods like red meat, poultry, fish, and some spinach or kale can help boost your iron levels.
5. Vitamin C-Rich Foods: Vitamin C is important for collagen production, which supports healthy nail growth. Broccoli, is a good source of vitamin C.
6. Zinc-Rich Foods: Zinc is essential for nail tissue growth and repair. Include foods like beef liver (is especially high in zinc), poultry, and shrimp to ensure an adequate intake of zinc.
7. Vitamin E-Rich Foods: Vitamin E helps protect the nails from damage caused by free radicals. Meats like salmon and shrimp contain vitamin E. But foods like spinach and avocados meat are good sources of vitamin E. Yes avocados for dogs! Please review this article for more information on how to safely feed avocados:
Davenport, G.M., Shoveller, A.K., Hayek, M., Massimino, S., Halsey, L., Minikhiem, D., Flickinger, E., Roth, G. and Ingram, D. (2012), Tolerance and safety of an avocado-based ingredient for adult dogs. FASEB J, 26: 825.1-825.1. https://doi.org/10.1096/fasebj.26.1_supplement.825.1
8. Water: Staying hydrated is essential for overall nail health. Make sure your pet drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day (most dogs and especially cats DO NOT drink enough water) to keep their nails hydrated and prevent them from becoming brittle.
Importance of Grooming
Healthy nails in pets are a combination of proper nutrition and regular grooming. Regular trimming strengthens your pet's nails and prevents damage. Be cautious while trimming as cutting the nail too short can harm the “quick,” a nerve and blood vessel within the nail, causing pain and potential harm. Most veterinarians and professional groomers offer nail trimming services, or they can demonstrate the correct way to trim nails at home. Trimming can be more challenging in pets with dark or black nails or those that resist the process. Experienced vets and groomers can handle such cases effectively and safely.