Brown young cocker spaniel dog

Some dogs may need changes to their diet to get rid of dandruff.

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Is it bad if my dog has dandruff?

By Dr. Liz Barton MA, VetMB, MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

Can home treatments cure my dog's dandruff? What is walking dandruff? Here you'll find this condition in all its shapes and forms put under the microscope.

A small amount of dandruff, especially if your dog is shedding their coat in warmer weather, can be normal and nothing to worry about. However, if your dog has a lot of dandruff for a prolonged period, or if their skin is also red and itchy, they may have underlying conditions that need treatment.

Why does my dog have flakes in their fur?

If you notice white flakes in your dog’s fur, it’s most likely dandruff – flakes of dead skin trapped in the hair coat. It is a normal part of skin growth for the top layers of skin to be shed over time. A small amount of dandruff can be normal, but a lot of dandruff can indicate underlying problems. Some parasites called Cheyletiella can look like moving flakes, known as ‘walking dandruff’. Walking dandruff is contagious and spreads easily to other animals (and even people), so it’s important to get your dog treated by a vet if the dandruff is moving.

Why does my dog have flaky skin?

Flaky skin, scurf or dandruff can be due to many causes: from natural shedding of skin to parasites and skin conditions. Flakes over one area suggests there may be some local irritation. But flakes all over the coat can indicate problems such as underlying generalised skin conditions.

Is it normal for dogs to have dandruff?

A small amount of dandruff is quite normal for some dogs, but generally you should have to look closely at their coat to notice it. If there are lots of white flakes, it is likely there is an underlying problem affecting their skin health. This may be on one area of the body or all over the coat. Typically, most scurf or dandruff is seen on the back towards the rump.

What can I do if my dog has dandruff?

If your dog has a mild amount of dandruff and is otherwise fine, the best thing to do initially is to give them a bath in a mild dog shampoo. Grooming your dog will also help to remove dead hair and skin trapped in the fur. If the dandruff returns after a few days, or if your dog becomes itchy or has red skin, it’s a good idea to see the vet. Some dogs may need changes to their diet, regular shampooing, treatment for parasites, nutritional supplements such as essential fatty acids, and investigation of underlying problems, such as skin disease or hypothyroidism.

How do you get rid of dry flaky skin or dandruff on a dog?

Regular grooming and the use of a mild dog shampoo are the best home treatments to remove dandruff in a dog’s coat. If it keeps returning, then regular bathing may be necessary. If the dandruff is persistent or very noticeable, additional investigation and treatment may be recommended.

What home remedies and treatment are there for dog dandruff?

Brushing out the dandruff using a soft grooming brush will remove dead skin from the coat. Using brushes with sharp or pointed teeth can actually increase the amount of dandruff, as the dead skin is scraped off into the coat.

Regular bathing at home can also help to keep on top of your dog’s dandruff. Avoid using shampoos that contain a lot of chemicals, which may be harsh to the dog’s skin as this can make the problem worse. If you have to bath your dog more than once a fortnight, there is likely to be an underlying problem.

Supplements to support skin health can be used – these include things such as omega-3 fatty acids and zinc. Not all supplements are regulated and quality-controlled, which may affect their safety and efficacy. It’s best to check with a vet for an approved supplement. Supplements typically have to be given for several weeks before you see the effects.

How do you moisturise a dog's skin?

Most dogs have hair covering the majority of the skin surface, making moisturising their skin with lotions and creams difficult or impossible. It is best to support skin health from within – by feeding them diets or supplements that help to increase the natural oils and also support strong, glossy hair growth.

When should I book an appointment with a vet?

While a mild amount of dandruff is usually not a problem, if your dog has itchy or red skin it’s important to seek veterinary advice. There may be parasites, skin allergies or infections that can cause a lot of discomfort. Even if the skin is otherwise healthy, if you have to bath your dog more than once a fortnight due to dandruff, there may be an underlying problem and it is best to have your dog checked.

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