Dog Dandruff

Causes Of And Treatments For Dog Dandruff

Dog dandruff is every bit as common as human dandruff, and many of the causes are the same, though the treatments may be different. Many years ago a treatment for human dandruff, especially in men, was to apply an oily hair tonic to the scalp. This didn't necessarily prevent the formation of more dandruff flakes, though it may have helped, but at least it pasted the flakes to the scalp where they would stay instead of falling to the shoulders. If this wasn't an ideal solution, at least the use of oil was a step in the right direction, and, as we will see, is one of the treatments for dog dandruff.


Dandruff is simply dried, dead skin which has flaked off. It is a natural occurrence. After all, the dead skin has to go someplace. It's really only a problem if it appears to be excessive, or if it is the result of a more serious underlying condition. Dog dandruff in itself isn't serious. Dandruff flakes may not even be particularly noticeable on the longer haired breeds, but certainly can be on those with short hair. And like men who wear a navy blue or black suit coat, the dandruff is even more noticeable on a black dog.

Brush, Brush, Brush - Even if dog dandruff is natural, that doesn't mean we should just ignore it, or do nothing to try to prevent an excess of the stuff. Aging skin is going to flake off no matter what, but a dog's skin, when healthy, should not flake off much at all. One thing a healthy skin requires is moisture, in the form of oil. We can provide that, not with a bottle of sweet-smelling hair tonic, but simply by grooming the pet often. Daily grooming is the best dandruff prevention of all, as it will tend to spread natural oils evenly over the dog's body.


Diet May Be A Factor - There may be instances where brushing is not enough, as the dog may simply not have enough oil in its skin to begin with. This can often result from the dog not getting sufficient fats and oils in its diet, which can happen with some dry dog foods. Most premium dry dog foods will contain the fats and oils needed for the breed of dog they are best suited for, but it still might be necessary to supplement the dry food with a little cooking oil. Often, when this is done, the incidence of dog dandruff decreases markedly. It may take several days or even a couple of weeks to see the difference, but there should be improvement. If this is the case, an occasional supplement of oil may be all that is needed to keep the pet relatively dandruff free.

Fleas And Mites Will Do It - There are instances where dog dandruff is the result of some underlying factor, such as the presence of fleas or mites. Anything that causes irritation to the skin and causes your pet to scratch will result in a more intense build up of skin cells to counter the irritation, with the result that a greater number of dead skin cells will be produced, hence more flaking, or dandruff. Flea powder, or a bath with a good dog shampoo may be all that's needed. If the irritation is being caused by mites, bathing with a medicated shampoo can sometimes help, but often either a topical medication or an oral medicine might be required. Although mites are very tiny creatures, they can exist in large numbers, and cause a dog misery. Mites are a cause of mange, which if not treated, can over a period of time become fatal to a dog.

Dehydration Can Be A Cause - Another underlying cause of dog dandruff is dehydration. The animal lacks needed fluids, a condition which can manifest itself in the creation of dry skin and subsequent flaking. In some cases the dehydration can be the result of a serious disorder such as canine diabetes, kidney failure, or diarrhea, which can be attributed to a number of factors.

Normally, if dog dandruff is the result of a serious underlying condition, other symptoms will be evident. A healthy dog with a little dandruff is just that. If the amount of dandruff becomes very significant, appears to be chronic, and doesn't respond well to shampoos or diet changes, a visit to the veterinarian would most likely be in order, certainly if your pet appears to be suffering any discomfort.