Have you noticed flaky material on your dog's fur? This might indicate that your pup has dandruff, which could indicate underlying health problems. Our vets in Little Elm to learn about the signs and treatments for dandruff in dogs.
Do Dogs Really Get Dandruff?
Dogs can indeed experience dandruff, just like their human companions. This occurs when dead skin cells flake off at a faster rate than usual, settling on their fur or hair. Dry flakes usually accumulate on the back, especially near the tail, and can be noticed when petting or scratching your dog.
Like human skin, dogs have glands that produce sebum, which aids in keeping their skin hydrated and supple. If these glands overproduce sebum, it can lead to imbalances and dandruff. Dogs may experience either dry seborrhea sica or oily seborrhea, both forms of seborrheic dermatitis.
Causes of Dog Dandruff
Dandruff can affect any dog, and it may arise from various reasons, such as genetic conditions like primary seborrhea (common in Basset Hounds and Cocker Spaniels). However, it's frequently due to factors influencing a dog's health or surroundings.
Although not exhaustive, here are some common causes of dandruff in dogs:
Dogs are more prone to dry skin in winter months, just like their human families; in areas where central ('forced') heat is the main source of warming the home, the issue can be worsened. If your puppy seems to be flaky in the winter, dry air could be the cause.
Dogs may experience itching due to dry skin, but it's important to note that there are external parasites that could be residing on your dog's skin, causing them significant discomfort. One such parasite is the Cheyletiella mite, which is visible to the naked eye and appears similar to white dandruff flakes. It's commonly known as 'Walking Dandruff.' If you notice that your dog's 'dandruff flakes' are moving independently, it's essential to take them to the vet immediately for parasite prevention. Some parasites, such as mites, can spread easily among other pets living in the same household.
If your dog's diet is unbalanced or improper, it can have an impact on their skin and coat. To maintain healthy skin and hair for your pet, it's essential to include foods that contain fatty acids like omega-3s and omega-6s. However, it's important to consult with your veterinarian to determine if your pet needs any additional supplements.
Skin bacterial and fungal infections can also be the cause of dandruff on your dog, as they are adept at taking advantage of damage or weaknesses in your puppy's skin. These underlying conditions will have to be treated appropriately to address the dandruff issue.
Skin problems in dogs can often indicate an allergic reaction to food or environmental factors. If your dog has allergies, they may experience flakiness and itching that varies throughout the year. Other symptoms, such as recurring ear and skin infections, typically accompany dandruff.
Diseases like Cushing's or hypothyroidism can affect your dog's skin health, which, along with a compromised immune system, can make them more susceptible to secondary infections.
Idiopathic (Spontaneous) Seborrhea
If the reason behind your dog's dandruff cannot be determined, it may be categorized as 'idiopathic.' This implies that while the treatment for the symptoms of dogs with dry, scaly skin can be effective, the underlying cause might remain unknown. Your veterinarian will be able to provide you with more guidance on how to manage your pet's condition.
Although dandruff can be irritating and uncomfortable for many dogs, it is usually not a cause for concern if it is mild or seasonal. However, if your pet displays signs of dry, flaky skin along with other symptoms, it's recommended that you take them to the vet for a physical examination.
- Skin odor
- Excessive dandruff
- Loss of hair/fur
- Irritated, red skin
- Excessive licking of paws or legs
- Signs of feeling unwell or being uncomfortable
Your dog's symptoms and your vet's findings will determine the next course of action, which could include further diagnostic testing to confirm any issues such as underlying health problems, allergic reactions, or potential parasites.
Treatment for Dog Dandruff
Fortunately, you can treat mild cases of dog dandruff at home with a combination of guidance and instructions from your primary veterinarian, along with these helpful tips:
- Groom your pet regularly to ensure their skin isn't overly oily and removes dead hair. Check with your vet before using grooming products on your dog.
- Bathing your dog can help with dandruff outbreaks and bacterial and fungal skin infections. Your vet may prescribe a medicated shampoo for your dog; follow the instructions carefully. Don't over-bathe your dog, as this could make the dandruff worse!
- Supplements can be helpful, but be aware that many commercial supplements are not heavily regulated for pets. Ask your vet for recommendations.
- Use a humidifier in your home if the air is dry. During winter months especially, your dog (and your family!) could find this helpful for preventing dry skin.