Q: My dog, CoCo, had scratched his skin for 11 years. Three years ago, I started giving him one tablespoon of salad oil in his main meal. I also give him two crushed alfalfa tablets each day. Since then, he hasn't scratched, and he has developed a beautiful coat.--C.M. A: Fat has a variety of functions in an animal's body. In general, a fat deficiency can result in scaly skin, a dry coat, increased susceptibility to skin infections, reduced reproductive efficiency and defective growth. A mixture of animal fats and vegetable oils is the best source of fats. Pork fat, butterfat and cocoa butter are all good sources, as are olive oil, lard and cod liver oil; beef fat is not as beneficial.
Consult your veterinarian concerning your pet's diet. Supplements providing the essential fatty acids are available through pet stores and your veterinarian. Antioxidants are usually added to prevent supplements from becoming rancid. If you choose to concoct your own supplements, watch your pet for diarrhea symptoms, which can occur as a result of excessive fat in the diet.