What is Dog Dandruff?
Dog dandruff is a condition that manifests with flakes of dead skin cells on the dog’s coat. Dog dandruff develops in two forms – oily and dry.
More often than not, dandruff is accompanied by itching and skin irritation. At some point, the itchiness becomes hard to tolerate and can even lead to hair loss and more severe skin issues such as dry skin and skin infections.
What Causes Dog Dandruff?
The dog’s diet and several health conditions are common culprits of dog dandruff. Here are some of the most common causes of dog dandruff.
- Seborrhea. Dogs can have primary or secondary seborrhea. Primary seborrhea is genetic and uncommon in dogs. Secondary seborrhea is very common in dogs and is typically caused by an underlying skin condition.
- Endocrine Disorders. Endocrine diseases, such as hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease, may also be underlying causes of dandruff.
- Skin Infections. Skin infections (dermatitis) often result in dandruff. They can be caused by bacteria, fungi, and yeasts. Yeast infections are among the most common causes of dandruff.
- Internal & External Parasites. Some internal parasites can lead to inflammation of the skin. This inflammation can further lead to the skin drying out and causing dandruff. External parasites such as ticks, mites, and fleas can lead to excessive scratching. This can lead to flaking of the skin and, eventually, dandruff.
- Diet Abnormalities. An abnormal, low-quality dog diet can also cause several skin problems, including dandruff. Your dog needs various nutrients for optimal skin & coat health. Dandruff develops when the food lacks those essential nutrients.
- Allergies. Environmental allergies and food allergies can compromise the immune system and your pet’s health leading to dandruff. Allergies are a common issue in dogs, and they can be tedious to diagnose and manage.
- Environmental Factors. Finally, various environmental factors such as changes in temperature and humidity can cause dog dandruff.
What are the Symptoms of Dog Dandruff?
It is crucial for pet parents to keep a watch on their dog’s health. There are a few symptoms that indicate your dog has developed dandruff. These include –
- Skin Flakes. If you observe your dog’s skin peeling or flaking, chances are that it is dandruff. Flakes are caused by low moisture levels in the skin.
- Excessive Itching. Since your dog’s skin is flaking, there will be itching too. If you see your dog scratching most of the time, it is best to take them to a vet for dandruff treatment.
- Skin Redness. Low moisture content in the skin can lead to inflammation or redness of the skin. This is a prominent sign of your dog having dandruff.
What Breeds are Prone to Dog Dandruff?
Dog breeds predisposed to oily dandruff are:
- Cocker Spaniels
- English Springer Spaniels
- Basset Hounds
- Labrador Retrievers
- West Highland White Terriers
The list of dogs prone to dry dandruff includes:
- German Shepherds
- Irish Setters.
Should I be Worried if My Dog has Dandruff?
Sometimes, dandruff can be seasonal and triggered by an environmental factor that might go away soon.
It could just be a seasonal thing and therefore might go away soon. However, if your dog’s dandruff seems more severe than your standard shedding of dead skin cells (in the form of white flakes), they may have Cheyletiellosis or “walking dandruff.” Cheyletiellosis is caused by the Cheyletiella mite. Cheyletiella mites are usually hidden on the dog’s skin and coat where they lay their eggs. As you may imagine, walking dandruff is incredibly irritating to your dog.
Furthermore, if your dog has severe dandruff, it may be a sign of a more serious, underlying issue.
For this reason, we encourage you to seek veterinary intervention if your dog’s dandruff appears to be more severe than typical flaky skin. It could be a sign of an infection that may require antibiotic treatment.
How do You Get Rid of Dandruff on a Dog?
There are several approaches to managing dog dandruff. Let’s take a closer look at them.
Regular Dog Grooming. Regular brushing and dandruff shampoo baths are vital for keeping your dog’s skin and coat healthy and dandruff-free. We suggest the Honest Paws 5-in-1 Dog Wash as a high-quality, safe, effective, and affordable dog shampoo. After bathing, brushing the dog will help promote natural oil production and remove dead skin cells from the dog’s fur and skin.
Healthy Diet. Consider what your dog is currently eating. Does it have the necessary amount of essential fatty acids and vitamins A and E? Many dog foods are not nutritionally balanced despite being advertised as such. Switch your dog to healthier dog food or consider using supplements to ensure adequate intake of certain nutrients. Adding an omega-3 fatty acid supplement (i.e. a fish oil supplement) to your dog’s diet can do wonders for their coat.
Use a Humidifier. Low humidity levels are detrimental to the dog’s coat health. Using a humidifier, especially in the area where the dog spends most of its time, is helpful. Luckily, there are many air humidifiers available on the market, and there are budget-friendly options too.
Coconut Oil. Coconut oil is an excellent and natural moisturizer that also helps calm itchy skin. We recommend the Raw Paws Organic Coconut Oil for Dogs & Cats. The coconut oil is organic, cold-pressed, and unrefined. The coconut oil can be applied topically, mixed with water and used as a rinse or added to the dog’s diet as a supplement.
Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse. Apple cider vinegar rinses can help control itching, irritated skin, and dandruff. Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water, and then use the concoction as a spot treatment or as a full-body rinse after shampooing. We strongly recommend Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar.
Oatmeal Dog Baths. Oatmeal is great for soothing inflamed skin. Giving your dog an occasional oatmeal bath is a great way to manage dandruff. One of the best oatmeal dog shampoos is WAHL Dry Skin & Itch Relief Pet Shampoo for Dogs. This oatmeal formula with coconut lime verbena is made with 100% natural ingredients and is perfectly safe for dogs.
Leave-in Conditioner for Dogs. Certain conditioners are great for dandruff as they add moisture and prevent dry skin and flaking. If looking for such a product, we recommend the Warren London Hydrating Butter Leave-in Dog Conditioner Lotion for Skin and Coat. This leave-in hydrating butter with guava and mangosteen works on all skin & coat types and comes in an easy-use pump bottle.
Salmon Oil for Dogs. Salmon oil is an excellent source of omega fatty acids and therefore helps in reducing skin inflammation. The Vets Preferred Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil for Dogs is among the top choices for salmon oil. It is made with high-quality ingredients and is loaded with EPA and DHA. It helps with skin & coat health while also supporting the dog’s immune system. The oil comes in an easy-to-use pump bottle.
How do I Prevent Dog Dandruff?
There are several ways to prevent dog dandruff and support skin health. Basically, all of the above-explained treatments can also be used as preventatives.
In addition to regular bathing, a healthy diet, salmon oil, and other skin supplements, there are two more home remedies for preventing dog dandruff.
Lime Juice Rinse. A great fact about lime juice is that it contains vitamin C. Combine equal parts of lime juice and water and rinse your dog with the concoction after bathing it with a dog shampoo.
Milk of Magnesia. Milk of magnesia is a well-known natural remedy. You can apply it directly onto the dog’s coat, let it soak for about 30 minutes, and then wash accordingly with a shampoo.