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Why does my dog have flaky skin?

Why does my dog have flaky skin?

Believe it or not, dogs actually take pride in keeping their coat looking healthy and clean. So if you’ve noticed your dog with slightly dry or flaky skin, there’s a good chance there’s an underlying health condition. 

Now, whilst this might concern some dog owners, often dry, flaky skin is easily treatable. It’s best to treat your dog’s flaky skin sooner rather than later since they can become easily irritated due to the amount of fur they have. So we’re going to look at the possible causes that’ll help answer why your dog has flaky skin, and some simple remedies to help them.

What is your dog’s flaky skin?

First thing to know is that your dog’s flaky skin is perfectly normal - it’s when dead skin cells separate from their skin where your dog will normally groom them away. However, sometimes these dead skin cells can shed in much larger quantities, revealing larger dry flaky patches on your dog’s coat. This indicates there’s potentially a deeper health issue.

Potential causes and symptoms:

  • Itchiness, 
  • Hair loss, 
  • Inflammation, 
  • Crusting, and an odour

Skin Infection

Dogs spend a lot of time outside, right? Well sometimes this means they’re prone to skin infections caused by bacteria, yeast and fungus (e.g. ringworm). Your vet would be able to do a formal diagnosis, of which treatment may include antibacterial and antifungal shampoos, or other ointments.

It’s best to take care if your dog has a skin infection as “some” can pass onto humans. Also it’s advised that you limit contact with other dogs for a while as it’s easy for dogs to pass them onto one another.


Fleas, lice, ticks and mites are also another common cause for irritated skin in your pooch…causing itchy, flaky skin. Parasites like demodex mites and cheyletiellosis commonly cause flaky skin in your dog. Thing is, it’s difficult to know without a formal medical diagnosis what kind of parasite your dog has been exposed to since any dog spending time outside is susceptible. 


This is a common one for causing flaky skin on dogs, as allergies can range so broadly i.e. several causes. Whether it’s food allergies or environmental ‘seasonal’ allergies, once it enters their system, your dog’s immune response will often come out in a skin condition that’s typically itchy. The itching can lead to flaky skin. Other symptoms could include coughing, sneezing, wheezing and runny eyes or nose.

Environmental Conditions

The cause of your dog’s flaky skin could also be something in their environment. Much like it can affect people, cold weather can also affect your dog’s skin conditions. The same also goes for having the central heating on during the winter months as this can dry out their skins, causing it to become flaky by interrupting natural oil production. Another thing to consider is the shampoos you’re using on your pooch, or even excessive bathing - both of these can dry out their skin.


Yes, your dog’s diet could also have an effect on the cause of their flaky skin. A standard diet, without proper nutrition or adequate supplementation can also provoke an immune system response that triggers flaky skin conditions. Choose high quality foods and supplement essential vitamins, minerals and Omega-3 essential fatty acids where possible for the best nutrition.

The next steps to treating your dog’s flaky skin?

If you think you can diagnose your dog’s skin from researching the common causes of flaky skin, then that’s a great outcome for you both. However, sometimes it can be quite tricky, meaning your vet would be the first person for you to contact since they are able to run tests to ensure anything you’ve missed has been caught to diagnose the problem.

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