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What is Causing your Dog’s Dandruff and How To Get Rid of it

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Doggy Dandruff: Everything You Need to Know

Does your dog have dry, itchy, flaky skin? Read on to find out what is causing your dog’s dandruff, and how to get rid of it.

Dandruff is a common occurrence in dogs because it is a secondary condition that has many possible causes. If your dog is suffering from mild dandruff, you can try a variety of home remedies to relieve the pesky flakes and itching. 

If you notice a ton of unsightly flakes or if your dog is noticeably itchy or smelly and it is not going away, you should get him checked out by a veterinarian. Dandruff can be a symptom of other underlying problems. It is smart to get your pup checked out any time he displays a change in his coat appearance or behavior.

What is Causing Your Dog’s Dandruff?

Can’t figure out what is causing your dog’s dandruff? A wide variety of skin conditions, genetic disorders, stress, and allergies can cause dry, itchy, flaky skin, and result in dandruff. Another name for dandruff is seborrhea. Seborrhea can either be a primary cause for flakes, or a secondary cause.

It is rare for dogs to have primary seborrhea. When primary seborrhea does occur as a primary cause it is likely an inherited condition. Secondary seborrhea is much more widespread and can have several root causes including allergies, parasites, endocrine disorders, bacterial infections, yeast infections, obesity, dietary issues, and such environmental factors like humidity and temperature.

The weather can play a significant role in dogs that are prone to dandruff. Dogs can have dandruff seasonally. During the fall and winter months, cold temperatures combined with a dry climate can enhance skin problems, including dandruff.

Just like humans, dogs are susceptible to getting dry, flaky skin in the winter. Seasonal allergies often plague dogs during the spring and summer months. Allergies are another root cause of itching and dandruff in both humans and dogs.

What Does Dog Dandruff Look Like?

Doggy dandruff can be annoying, but do not worry. If you see flakes in your dog’s coat, you do not need to be alarmed. Most dogs will have a few itchy dandruff flakes from time to time, and it is entirely normal. Some dogs will get more dandruff during times of stress. Some dandruff symptoms are red flags and a sign you should get your dog checked out by a veterinarian.

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What Causes Excessive Dandruff in Dogs? 

If you notice a lot of flakes in your dog’s coat and they are not going away, it is time to get your pet checked out by a professional. Consult your dog’s vet to make sure it is not a severe medical condition that is causing dandruff.

Make sure to report seasonal dandruff to your veterinarian as well as prolonged flakes and itchiness. Your vet will be able to determine if allergies are the cause and recommend treatments for dry skin.

Where Can My Dog Get Dandruff?

Dog dandruff can occur on any part of your pup’s body. Depending on the root cause, your dog can get dandruff in a specific spot, or it can be widespread, affecting the skin all over your dog’s body. Some skin infections will cause your pup’s skin to become flaky and itchy in a particular spot, while allergies and dryness can affect the entire body.

Is Your Dog Itchy?

Your dog may show symptoms of itching and discomfort when he has dandruff. Allergies, infections, parasites, and rare skin cancers can all result in itching and discomfort. On the other hand, if your pup has the less common primary seborrhea, itching is not often a symptom.

Is Your Dog’s Skin Red?

Dandruff from skin infections and some types of allergies can result in a reddening of the skin. This reddening is often accompanied by a new odor that is different than your pup’s typical smell. If your dog has a skin infection, you likely need to visit the vet for medication to get rid of it.

What Dog Breeds Get Dandruff?

Any dog can develop dandruff. It is challenging to pinpoint certain breeds that are more susceptible to secondary seborrhea because there are so many different root causes. Certain breeds are more susceptible to primary seborrhea due to inherited conditions. American bulldogs and golden retrievers, for instance, are prone to an inherited skin condition called Ichthyosis that causes dandruff.

How Do You Get Rid of Dandruff on a Dog? 

Since most cases of dandruff are a result of an underlying condition, there will be different treatments for different root causes. Allergies, immune-mediated diseases, endocrine disorders, and other skin infections are some of the most frequent root causes of excessive dandruff in dogs. When you figure out what is causing the dandruff, you will be able to get rid of it.

Your Dog Could Have Allergies

Many dogs have seasonal allergies that occur during certain times during the year. Other dogs have food allergies, which can also cause dry, flaky skin.

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Your veterinarian will need to determine not only if it is allergies causing the problem, but also whether the allergies are due to environmental issues, or from food. The first thing to do is to rule out a food allergy. If it is a food allergy, reverting to your dog’s previous diet should result in the symptoms going away.

Treatment for seasonal environmental allergies will likely be in the form of mediation, while treatment for food allergies will usually require a change in your dog’s diet. If the dandruff is caused by allergies, these treatments should get rid of the dandruff symptoms too.

Get Rid of Skin Infections

Skin infections, including yeast and bacterial infections, often cause your dog to get dandruff. See a vet right away if your dog develops skin infections such as a staph infection. Your vet will need to treat these infections promptly. Some skin infections are a secondary result of allergies. Both lead to dandruff and the only way to get rid of the dandruff is to get rid of the infection.

Once your vet has explicitly determined what kind of skin infection your pup has, she will be able to provide the appropriate treatment. Some skin infections require oral medications, while others require topical treatments, and some will need both.

Immune-Mediated Diseases and Treatments

Some dogs get immune-mediated conditions such as sebaceous adenitis. Your vet will have to conduct a biopsy to diagnose sebaceous adenitis. When a dog has this sebaceous adenitis, the oil glands in the skin deteriorate. 

This deterioration is believed to be caused by an issue within the immune system that causes inflammation, which in turn leads to the destruction of the sebaceous glands.

To treat this condition, replace the missing oils in the dog’s skin. You will need to apply several topical treatments as well as oral medications in some cases. 

Does Your Dog Have an Endocrine Disorder?

Endocrine disorders like hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease can occur in canines. Hypothyroidism happens when the thyroid gland does not create enough thyroid hormone. Cushing’s disease is another endocrine disorder in which the dog’s body makes too much steroid. 

To treat hypothyroidism, your vet will recommend supplementing your dog with a thyroid hormone. For Cushing’s disease, the treatment includes giving your dog an oral medication to lower the amount of cortisol or steroid that your dog’s body is creating.

Home Remedies for Dog Dandruff and Itching

How do you get rid of doggy dandruff? If your dog is suffering from mild dandruff, there are several home remedies you can try out to relieve your pup’s symptoms. However, if your furry friend has severe dandruff, take him to see the vet. Your vet will find out what the root cause is so you can apply the right treatment. 

Groom Your Dog Regularly

Make regular grooming part of your dog’s general care routine. Brush and groom your pup’s coat regularly to maintain his natural oils and massage his skin, resulting in a healthy, dandruff-free coat. 

Just like with human scalp care, if you do not wash it, you are likely to develop dandruff. Dogs are susceptible to getting dandruff the same way. You do not need to wash your pup’s coat every single day, but you should clean it regularly. Read our article on Puppy Bath Time for more bathing and grooming tips!

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

You can supplement your dog’s diet with omega 3 fatty acids to keep his coat and skin looking clean and healthy. Make sure to consult your veterinarian before you give your pup any new vitamins or supplements. Zesty Paws Salmon Oil worked great for our dog! Order on Amazon here.

Humidifiers for Dry Skin

Humidifiers work wonders for treating dry skin. Use a humidifier in your home to raise the moisture level. Seasonal dryness is one of the biggest causes of dry skin and dandruff in both humans and pets. Increase the humidity to soothe your dog’s skin and reduce seasonal dandruff. 

Best Dog Shampoo for Dandruff and Itching

To prevent dandruff, use an anti-dandruff shampoo on your pup. Make sure to choose a dog-formulated-shampoo that is formulated for dandruff and itching. Never use human shampoo on your pet. The pH balance of your skin is not the same as that of your dog’s skin. If you use a shampoo formulated for humans on your furry friend, it will likely make his skin worse. Read our other article on a professional’s top 5 shampoos for dogs for more tips. 

Oatmeal Shampoo for Dogs

Pro Pet Works All Natural Oatmeal Dog Shampoo + Conditioner

Look for a dog shampoo that contains oatmeal. Oatmeal shampoos will help to moisturize and soothe your dog’s skin, which will reduce existing dandruff and help prevent new dandruff from forming. 

Diet for Doggy Dandruff

Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat Real Meat Recipe

To keep your dog healthy in general, as well as to keep his coat and skin healthy, feed him a diet that is rich in nutrients. There are a lot of great options for a balanced diet. Consult with your veterinarian to determine what foods and nutrients to include in your dog’s diet. Your vet will help ensure your dog’s diet is not missing any essential nutrients.

You may choose to feed your dog commercially available pet food, or to cook your dog’s food yourself. Food allergies should be taken into consideration when planning your dog’s diet. Make sure to discuss food allergies with your vet. 

Dog dandruff is a nuisance to both you and your pup. Dandruff can occur in a mild form, that can easily be cured by home remedies; or it can come in a severe form, in which you will need to seek a professional’s advice. Once you have figured out what is causing your dog’s dandruff, you can get rid of it.

Sarah Nishimoto

The author Sarah Nishimoto

Sarah is not only a pet owner but loves animals of all shapes and sizes.

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