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Doggy Dandruff: Symptoms, Causes and How to Treat it

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Have you noticed your dog itching more than normal? Perhaps your dog now has flakes on his back, or you’ve noticed them in the dog bed. If this is the case, your dog may be suffering with dandruff. Below we look at the symptoms of doggy dandruff, what can cause it, and how to treat it.

What is Doggy Dandruff?

Dandruff in dogs and humans is very much the same. Doggy dandruff happens when dead skin begins to flake away and falls out. This may become noticeable in your dog’s hair, or it may be all over the floor. In humans, dandruff is usually associated with the head. Dogs have fur all over their bodies, meaning it can affect anywhere. The most common place to see dandruff in dogs is on their back, especially near the tail end.

puppy scratching due to doggy dandruff

The medical name for doggy dandruff is seborrheic dermatitis. On a dog’s skin, there are glands called sebaceous glands. These glands develop an oil, called sebum, which will keep their skin healthy, flexible, and moist. If these glands begin to overproduce this oil, it can cause a skin imbalance, which results in doggy dandruff. There are two types of doggy dandruff: dry seborrhea and oily seborrhea. Your pooch can be diagnosed with one, or they can have both.

Symptoms of Doggy Dandruff

There are some obvious symptoms to doggy dandruff, with the most obvious being dry, flaky skin found on your dog’s fur, and around their favorite places in the house. While a little bit of dry skin is normal, if it is found in excessive amounts, the cause is usually dandruff.  Other symptoms include:

  • Hair loss
  • Signs of discomfort or illness
  • Excessive itching
  • A different odor to your dog’s skin or fur
  • Irritated or red skin underneath the fur

If you have been wondering, “why is my dog so itchy?”, dandruff could be to blame, but there are other causes of itchiness in dogs. If itching is the only symptom, you may be dealing with something else entirely. Native Pet look at some of the main causes other than dandruff, such as parasites, or an allergic reaction. If your dog is itching constantly, read this guide to itchiness in dogs to help determine the cause and find a solution. 

The Main Causes of Doggy Dandruff

There are many causes to doggy dandruff, and some are more obvious than others. The breed of dog can also determine why they may be getting dandruff and what areas will be most affected. Sometimes, dandruff can be caused by genetic factors and some dogs will be more prone to getting dandruff, such as cocker spaniels. More often than not, though, doggy dandruff is due to an external factor or another health condition, such as:

1.      Obesity and Nutrition

If your dog isn’t getting the diet he needs, this could be causing dandruff. Poor nutrition can affect everything from weight, to the healthiness of your dog’s coat and skin. Obesity can cause many health conditions in dogs, with poor skin being one of the more minor conditions. If you want to improve your dog’s dandruff, first look at their diet. They should be getting balanced and high-quality dog food, rather than dry, shelved foods. You can also add supplements to your dog’s diet, which can improve their skin and coat. Fatty acids which are found in fish, such as omega-3, can also improve the look and feel of your dog’s skin. Dogs can eat fish, but only certain kinds, and not excessive amounts.

2.      Allergies

Some allergies can cause dandruff, so if your dog has suddenly developed dandruff and other allergy symptoms, this could be the cause. There are many allergies that dogs can suffer from, including allergies to certain foods, or environmental factors. If you notice doggy dandruff at a certain time of year, a seasonal allergy is likely the cause. Other symptoms of allergies include your dog licking their paws constantly and ear or skin infections. If you think your dog has an allergy, they must get tested by a vet so that they can be prescribed appropriate treatment.

3.      Parasites

Sometimes doggy dandruff can be confused with mites. Some mites, such as Cheyletiella mites, are so large they can be seen on the skin, even from afar. They are also white, which means they can look very much like dandruff flakes. Other parasites, such as ticks and fleas, can also feed on your dog, leading their skin to become dry and itchy. This will increase the risk of dandruff. Their dandruff should get better once you have treated the cause of the dandruff, in this case, with parasite treatment.

4.      Skin Infections

If your dog has a skin infection, this could cause dandruff. Fungal or bacterial infections on their skin can also be caused by dandruff. Once your dog’s skin is weakened, skin infections can cause other infections to occur, so they will need swift treatment. Once you have treated the cause of the skin infection, you can see whether their dandruff has improved, or whether their dandruff was the cause. You must get your dog seen by a vet, as skin infections will need to be treated with medicated creams or tablets.

5.      Hormones

If your dog has a hormonal imbalance or a disease that affects the hormones, this can cause dandruff. Some of the main conditions in dogs include Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism. Hormones are needed to keep your dog’s skin healthy and moist, so if they have a hormone problem, this could be affected. If they have a weakened immune system, they are also more likely to get other infections, such as skin infections.

Doggy Dandruff Treatment

If you want to help your dog and relieve their itchy and dry skin, there are many treatments you can start at home straight away. The most common treatments for dandruff include:

  • Regular bathing with a shampoo targeted at dog dandruff
  • Regular grooming, including brushing
  • A healthy, balanced diet
  • Supplements for coat and skin
  • Allergy testing, if you believe an allergy is to blame
  • Checking for ticks and mites, and using remedies if this is the cause

If your dog’s dandruff isn’t going away, or you notice any other worrying symptoms, speak with your vet straight away.

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