Have you noticed white, flaky skin on your dog’s back…or white flakes left in their dog bed? If you have, it’s likely because they’ve got dandruff. If this doesn’t appear to be bothering them, or seems very occasional, then there’s nothing to worry about. However, if your dog has constant signs of dandruff, then it’s probably something more serious - it could even be quite agitating for poor pooch.
Dogs get dandruff like humans, yes they do!
It’s true, like us dogs get dandruff - this happens when dead skin cells begin to drop off and hang onto the hairs just above the skin’s surface. In people, we tend to only get dandruff on the top of our heads, whereas in dogs, they often get it on their backs - typically towards the tail end.
You’ll probably notice the skin actually “looks” a little dry, where the skin is flaking off. In fact, give them a good scratch and if white flecks of skin come off, you know they have some dandruff going on.
What causes dog dandruff?
To keep your dog’s skin moist and flexible, they have sebaceous glands - these produce sebum, which is an oil, kind of like a moisturiser. But when these glands produce too much of this oil, it can cause an imbalance on their skin, possibly leading to a condition called Seborrheic Dermatitis: seborrhea sicca (dry seborrhea) and seborrhea oleosa (oily seborrhea). Dogs can have a combination of the two.
The causes of dandruff can be classified into two categories - either it’s a reaction/symptom to the environment or it’s a medical condition (sometimes, it’s a combination of both).
Dry air can cause your dog’s dandruff
Especially in the winter months, like in humans, the dry air from heaters and internal radiators can cause dandruff and dry skin conditions in your pooch. It’s often the lack of humidity, so perhaps consider investing in one - especially close to where your dog spends most of their time, or near their bed?
Being overweight or nutritional deficiencies
A nutrient-deficient diet can have an effect on the condition of your dog’s skin- they need high-quality, balanced foods. Foods rich in Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids are a good place to start to help support their skin health. Remember to check with your dog’s vet before introducing new foods, like oils. Of course, if you think nutrition is to blame, it’s probably a symptom from a deeper underlying causes - often the state of their gut health can be a trigger.
Fleas, ticks and mites can cause excessive itching
While your dog’s flaky, white skin may not be dandruff, these can still affect how much they scratch from irritation…further causing flaky skin to peel off.
Allergies can cause dandruff
Whether it’s foods or environmental, allergies in dogs often start out as skin problems. Certain dogs may become more itchy on their skin and around their ears during the allergy season. Dandruff is often just a symptom of environmental or food allergies - so it’s worth doing a little digging around to see what you find out. Perhaps your dog has a particular food sensitivity.
Dandruff in dogs can be caused by hormonal conditions
Hypothyroidism and Cushing's disease can also be responsible for your dog’s dandruff. That’s because they can result in a change to their skin health. Plus, did you know that a weakened immune system will also make your pooch more vulnerable to secondary infections?
Do you need to see a vet about your dog’s dandruff?
You might not know how serious your dog’s itchy or flaky skin really is, but if you’re in any doubt whatsoever, then it’s best to consult your vet before taking any action. As a rough guide, the following conditions or symptoms would constitute a visit to your vet:
Excessive amounts of dandruff
Red, irritated skin
Trying to diagnose your dog’s symptoms can be tricky, so your vet would know best, but these are certainly a good place to start if you’re wondering whether or not your dog has dandruff.
Dog dandruff home remedies - what can you do
This is probably the first and easiest thing you can do to help with your dog’s dandruff. By regular brushing, you’re caring for your dog’s skin by removing the excessive skin oils and dead hair. Brush daily if your dog’s having a particular outbreak of dandruff, or do it weekly for general maintenance. If your dog has long hair, misting with water can help to decrease static, or a dog conditioning spray might help?
When bathing, which is recommended as a regular practice for your dog, be mindful about how often, since it “can” dry out their skin further. So perhaps consider specific shampoos you know are healthy and natural to nourish their skin and coat.
Health supplements for your dog that are rich in essential omega fatty acids might be of real help, since this can help nourish your dog’s skin and coat from the inside out. Also, consider what your dog is eating since their daily diet and nutritional intake can have a dramatic effect on the condition of their skin. If you’re unsure, consult your vet for his or her opinion on supplements and diet.
So whilst these are more important for the winter when dry skin conditions - like dandruff, can occur more often, they’re good for keeping the air optimal for the whole household. The steam from the humidifier can help soothe and hydrate your dog’s dry skin to make them more comfortable and less itchy.
We’d love to hear if you have any further great ideas for managing your dog’s dandruff - especially ones like these home remedies listed here. We love natural solutions, so let the community know about it!