How Zinc Affects Your Pet's Skin
Zinc is an essential trace element, necessary to sustain all forms of life, and is found in nearly every cell of the body. Studies have shown that zinc is required by the immune system for proper immune function and wound healing. While zinc is typically supplemented in adequate amounts in commercially produced pet foods, it is possible for your pet to be deficient in zinc, as it is has low absorption rates in comparison to other minerals.
The immune system can be affected by the presence of even a small deficiency in zinc. A severe zinc deficiency can effectively depress the immune system, decreasing its overall ability to fight disease and infection.
The most common reason for a deficiency of zinc is due to a condition known as zinc responsive dermatosis. Two main syndromes are associated with zinc responsive dermatosis: One is typically limited to specific breeds of dogs, including huskies and malamutes. Symptoms include hair loss, skin crusting and skin scaling. These symptoms are primarily noted around the face, legs and head.
The second syndrome is limited to puppies. If puppies are not fed an adequate diet of zinc or are over supplemented with calcium, this can lead to zinc deficiency. Puppies will demonstrate the same symptoms listed above, but in addition may become anorexic or lethargic. Puppies with zinc deficiency are also at a higher risk for the development of secondary infections.
Reports of toxicity due to the over-supplementation of zinc are a rare occurrence. However, it is possible for zinc toxicity to occur if ingested in large amounts. Typically, this leads to deficiencies in both copper and iron. It can also cause certain complications with the absorption of calcium. Because toxicity due to zinc is rare, signs and symptoms of zinc over-supplementation are limited. To avoid the toxic effects of zinc, discuss the adequate supplementation amounts with your veterinarian.
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