What causes Dog Dandruff?
Dog dandruff is nothing more than dead skin cells being shed from your pet’s coat. It’s really not much different from the problems some humans experience with itchy scalps. But while the detection of dry flakey skin on your pet is easy to spot, trying to determine the root cause could be a bit trickier. Here are few things that could be the cause of your pet’s dry skin and what to do about it.
Fleas - It’s possible that your pet has a flea infestation, which can cause excessive dog dandruff. If you’re not sure if your pet has fleas, have your dog sit down on a sheet of white paper (you could use a long sheet of parchment paper for bigger dogs). Take a brush and comb it through their fur and see if any black specs that look like dirt fall off onto the paper. If so, this could be “flea dirt” (which is actually feces). To determine if this is actual flea dirt, or just regular dirt, take the paper, dampen the paper and see if the dirt turns a reddish rust color. This would indicate there is blood, which would be digested by the fleas and would appear in their waste. If it does not turn color it is probably just regular dirt. Contact your vet if you feel the source of dog dandruff is from fleas.
Lack of grooming, bathing, and exercising- If your pet is unhealthy, their coat may be unhealthy. Organs like the liver and kidneys serve to eliminate waste properly from the body, so your pet’s dry skin could be the result of issues internally. Make sure you bathe your dog regularly to wash off the excess flakes, and groom them with a brush which will help distribute natural oils evenly over their coat, which can help reduce the flakes. Also, take your pet for regular walks to ensure that they remain healthy and in shape. If you your pet’s skin does not improve, consult with your vet. In extreme cases, it could be signs of more serious illnesses, such as liver disease. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so if you are concerned, contact your vet immediately.
Dietary issues – Dog Dandruff may also be the result of a diet deficiency. This can be treated with increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in your dog’s diet. Applying a tablespoon of vegetable oil to your dog’s food is usually sufficient. You can also use flaxseed oil, or fish oil. Your pet’s flakes should clear up if it is a dietary issue, and giving them regular doses of omega-3 fatty acids will prevent further outbreaks. As always, make sure to consult with your vet before making any changes to your dog’s diet.
These are just a few things to check for when trying to find the root cause dry skin on dogs. For more information on treating your pet’s symptoms see this article on the Do's and Don'ts of dry skin on dogs and for recommended treatments and shampoos, watch this 2 part video series on Dog Dandruff Remedies.