Did you know that dogs also get dandruff? The white, flaky mess is no fun, especially for canines with layers of fur. But why does my dog have a lot of dandruff despite regular grooming?
As with humans, anyone can get dandruff. It’s quite common, but it can get annoying and out of hand if not managed right away. This is the same with dogs.
There are various culprits behind doggy dandruff. The good news is that most of them are easy to address and can be treated at home.
Below, I discuss the potential reasons behind your dog’s dandruff and what you can do about it. Take note that this is purely based on a pet owner’s perspective. When in doubt, it’s still best to consult your dog’s veterinarian for the best solution.
What is canine dandruff?
Dog dandruff occurs when due to the flaking of the canine’s skin. It can be triggered by various reasons, which I discussed below.
Most of the time, doggy dandruff is a minor issue. However, there are cases when it’s best to call the vet.
You should consult the vet if home remedies aren’t working for your dog. Also, the vet is the best person to contact if your dog’s skin is already inflamed and if the irritation is already widespread.
If flakes are coming off in large amounts, your dog needs veterinary attention. And if a foul odor accompanies dandruff, you should bring your dog to the vet instead.
Also, there are two kinds of canine dandruff: dandruff and walking dandruff.
Dandruff alone, which is often caused by irritants, is rarely a cause of concern. It can be managed at home with proper grooming and medicated baths.
However, walking dandruff is worse. It’s triggered by a parasite called Cheyletiella, which is a type of mite. With this, walking dandruff is highly contagious, and it can be passed on from one furry pet to another.
Unlike dandruff alone, walking dandruff isn’t easy to fix. Your dog’s veterinarian will prescribe topical medications to kill the mites as well as medicated baths for up to six weeks. In worst cases, dogs with walking dandruff will need treatments in the vet’s clinic.
But whatever type of dandruff your dog has, it’s important to know its cause. This way, you can provide the needed treatment right away.
Why does my dog have a lot of dandruff?
If your dog has dandruff, the following might be the reasons why:
Dogs with a condition called ‘walking dandruff’ suffer from cheyletiella mite infestation. These tiny critters lay eggs and thrive in a canine’s coat.
Unlike other skin parasites, these mites are non-burrowing and have a ‘bite and run’ behavior. They feed on tissue fluids and surface debris on your dog’s skin.
The mites will spread all over your dog’s body if not treated right away. It will also infect other pets like rabbits, cats, and birds.
🐾Extremely dry air
Dry air makes your dog more susceptible to dandruff. The low humidity will dehydrate your canine’s skin, which can lead to flaking and cracking. Over time, this will progress into a full-blown case of canine dandruff.
Generally, it’s best to maintain 50% to 60% humidity in your home. This is also beneficial for your family since low humidity can trigger respiratory problems in humans.
Another common cause of dandruff is canine allergies. It can be due to food or environmental irritants to which your dog is exposed to.
Many times, dandruff is due to a food allergy. It means that your dog’s immune system detects a specific food ingredient as a threat to the canine’s body.
Unless you wean your dog from the food, its dandruff will get worse. Aside from dandruff, your dog will also suffer from hives, bouts of diarrhea, and vomiting, which can be life-threatening.
Aside from food, you should also consider the possibility of contact dermatitis. It’s an overreaction of the dog’s immune system to a substance that got into its skin.
For example, if your dog starts to develop rashes after you use a new pet shampoo, contact dermatitis might be in the works. This condition is unbearably itchy and uncomfortable for dogs.
To soothe itself, your dog will scratch and lick the itchy areas. This will lead to the formation of dandruff, hotspots, and bald areas on its coat.
Skin infections are notorious for causing a slew of health problems in dogs, including dandruff. Both fungal and bacterial infections can cause skin flaking, among other complications.
As the pathogens weaken your dog’s skin barrier, it will start to get irritated and dry. In this case, dandruff becomes a secondary infection.
Take note that skin infections require proper treatment. Addressing dandruff alone won’t solve the skin problem and will probably worsen as time goes by.
Like humans, canines’ bodies react to stress adversely. Chronic stress can cause mild to moderate dandruff in dogs. But if paired with other causes here, the condition would be excruciating.
When a dog is under extreme stress, the adaptive changes in its body will kick in. This includes the release of epinephrine or adrenaline hormone.
High levels of adrenaline hormones in the canine’s body can lead to hair loss and other skin problems.
Aside from that, stress will also suppress digestion in dogs, which can impact the skin’s condition.
One of the biggest culprits of doggy dandruff is poor nutrition. Take note that your dog’s food quality always reflects on its coat health. This is why cheap and substandard formulas can easily trigger dandruff and coat thinning.
Aside from that, an unbalanced diet can also lead to dandruff problems in dogs. Lack or low supply of Omega fatty acids, Vitamin E, and biotin are seen to contribute to the formation of dog dandruff.
Poor grooming can also increase your dog’s risk of developing dandruff. For example, using harsh grooming products or failure to clean your dog’s coat are all guaranteed to result in flaking.
Aside from that, your dog’s dandruff will be accompanied by a foul smell and a slew of infections.
Take note that each dog has unique grooming needs. For example, some have more sensitive skins than others, which makes the canines more prone to dandruff.
In this case, you have to pay close attention to how you groom your pet. Always opt for gentle shampoo products to prevent disrupting your dog’s natural skin pH and its natural sebum production.
How to treat dandruff in dogs
Treating canine dandruff depends on what caused it in the first place. If you suspect that your dog has walking dandruff, I suggest you call your pet’s vet first. This condition requires veterinary attention to fully kill the mites and prevent them from spreading to other canines.
But if your dog only has a typical case of dandruff, here’s what you can do:
✔️Consider using a humidifier
A humidifier will be a good fix for doggy dandruff caused by the dry winter air. This device will restore your home’s humidity level to prevent drying your dog’s skin.
Aside from preventing doggy dandruff, a dehumidifier will also prevent your skin from being parched. So it’s hitting two birds with one stone.
However, make sure that you also use a humidistat to ensure that you’re not over-humidifying your home. Take note that excessive moisture will make way for the proliferation of molds, which is harmful to all house occupants.
✔️Give a soothing shampoo.
Another way to soothe your dog’s irritated skin is by giving it an oatmeal bath. Oatmeal has natural anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties that help with walking dandruff.
If your dog has a severe case of dandruff, you can ask the vet to recommend a medicated dog dandruff shampoo. Unlike typical pet shampoos, this product is infused with pharmaceuticals that will help neutralize infections fast.
✔️Switch to a new food
If your dog’s dandruff is due to a food allergy, switching to a new diet might be the best move. But, of course, this should be done after consulting your pet’s veterinarian.
Moreover, the switch should be done gradually to prevent stomach irritation on your dog. You can do this by slowly changing a portion of your pet’s old diet with the new food product.
✔️Wash your dog with diluted lemon juice
Another home remedy for canine dandruff is a mixture of water and lime juice. Make sure that you dilute the citrus first to prevent its acidic properties from irritating the canine’s skin more.
This solution is effective as lime juice can help exterminate mites causing walking dandruff. It also has antiseptic properties that can neutralize infections. Still, this is just a home remedy and may not be suitable for all cases of canine dandruff.
How to prevent dandruff in dogs
Since canine dandruff can be due to various causes, it can be difficult to prevent fully. Still, the following points will help reduce the risk of your dog developing this irritation:
✔️Practice proper grooming
Take note that grooming a dog isn’t just about washing and brushing. It’s also important to inspect its coat, so you can spot signs of infection before it takes hold.
Also, you should consider bringing your dog to a professional groomer periodically. While home grooming works, there might be missed spots that only a professional can notice. Also, professional grooming is a great way to prevent skin infections and dandruff.
✔️Consult your dog’s veterinarian
The veterinarian should always be involved in the welfare of your pet. If you’re worried about canine dandruff, you can ask the vet for advice and recommendations.
Aside from that, bringing your dog to the vet for annual checks helps prevent various health problems, even those as minor as dandruff.
✔️Brush your dog’s coat regularly.
Regular brushing will help remove loose dander from your dog’s coat. This way, it won’t accumulate and cause dandruff-like white specks.
By brushing your dog’s coat, you’ll also get to check for any changes that may indicate the presence of infection. This is also an effective way to catch doggy dandruff before it spreads throughout your pet’s coat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Should I be worried if my dog has dandruff?
A: Canine dandruff is rarely a medical emergency. Still, it requires an immediate solution to save your dog from itchiness and discomfort. Also, this is to prevent the cause of dandruff from irritating the skin and damaging your pet’s fur. Over time, irritated skin due to dandruff can also develop a bad odor if not treated right away.
Q: Does dandruff cause hair loss in dogs?
A: Dandruff due to dermatitis or eczema will soon lead to canine hair loss if not treated immediately. This is why it’s important to address canine dandruff before it progresses into a more severe problem. Also, note that aside from the skin irritation, your dog’s constant licking and scratching will worsen the hair loss.
Q: Do dogs get dandruff in spring?
A: A dog can have dandruff at any season, though spring seems to be milder. Particularly, winter is the harshest season as this makes canines susceptible to dandruff. The dry air makes the skin prone to itching, flaking, and irritations.
Q: Is human dandruff shampoo safe for dogs?
A: Never use human dandruff shampoo for your dog. In fact, any grooming product made for humans isn’t safe for canines because it will mess with the natural pH level of their skin. Instead, you should purchase a medicated dog shampoo formulated specifically for canines.
Q: Can I vacuum my dog with dandruff?
A: Vacuuming a canine’s fur is only suitable for large breeds. The high-speed airflow can be dangerous for small breeds. Also, it does little to address dandruff. Even if you can remove some of the flakes, they will keep growing back until you treat the root cause of the problem.
Q: Does coconut oil help with dog dandruff?
A: Coconut oil is a big help in alleviating and preventing canine dandruff. The moisturizing benefit of this oil will prevent the skin from drying and itching. It can also help dogs suffering from walking dandruff, though the vet’s advice is necessary. Just make sure that you’re using pure and organic coconut oil.
Why does my dog have a lot of dandruff? The white specks might be due to allergies, mites, infections, poor diet, and stress. Whatever it is, you should consult the vet about the best remedy. It’s crucial to identify the type of dandruff to ensure that your dog will receive proper treatment.