Why Does My Dog Have Dandruff?

Dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis in dogs is normal and pretty common, just like us humans. If you notice your furry friend annoyed with itching and scratching, it is most probably because he has dandruff.

Though it is much like humans, the only difference is that seborrhea in dogs is much more irritating, given their thick fur and amount of hair is far more than humans. If the condition remains persistent, it could even be an underlying health implication.

This post will walk you through all the reasons and aspects of dandruff in dogs. Apart from this, it will help you fetch answers to questions like “why does my dog have dandruff?

Without further ado, let’s get started.

Dandruff in Dogs

Dogs have sebaceous glands that are responsible for producing oils that protect and nourish the skin against dryness. One of the essential oils produced here is known as sebum.

The problem starts when the glands begin producing an excessive amount of sebum. Excessive production can irritate your canine’s skin, which is followed by dry, flaky skin. All this worsens with time, and flakiness further increases if left untreated.

This happens, and if you notice closely, you might be able to see the flakes on your dog’s back. Dandruff affects a dog’s back the most, like the head in humans.

That said, let’s discuss the symptoms, treatments, causes, and remedies to find solutions to the “why does my dog have dandruff?” issue.

The scientific name of dandruff in dogs is seborrheic dermatitis. Seborrheic dermatitis can further be classified into two categories:

  • Seborrhea Sicca or dry seborrhea

  • Seborrhea Oleosa or oily seborrhea

In a unique condition, some dogs suffer from a combination of both Oleosa and Sicca.

Symptoms of Dandruff in Dogs

The symptoms are quite noticeable and easy to identify. Some significant signs of dandruff in dogs are:

  • Dry-flaky skin

  • White speck and flakes on the dog’s back

  • Considerable hair loss (depending upon severity)

  • Scratching

  • Itching

If all these symptoms are something your dog is experiencing, it has dandruff, and you should consider visiting a vet. Also, puppies with long-furry hair are more prone to suffering from dandruff than other dogs.

The severity of the condition is a determinant factor for the symptoms. Moreover, if dandruff is left untreated for a longer time, your furry friend could even gain some bald patches and scabs.

If you are still wondering why your dog has dandruff, It could be because it belongs to a furry/hairy breed.

Causes of Dandruff in Dogs

Dandruff in dogs can have numerous possible causes. Although furry and hairy breeds are at greater risk, all breeds can be affected.

One reason could be due to a genetic condition. Such cases are known as primary seborrhea. Breeds with a higher risk of primary seborrhea are:

  • Cocker Spaniels

  • West Highland White Terriers

  • Basset Hounds

The other category is ichthyosis. Breeds at higher risk of ichthyosis are:

  • Golden Retriever

  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

  • Yorkshire Terriers

Though genetic causes are possible, they are not common. Mostly the cause remains environmental and sometimes an underlying health complication. Let’s look at some of the most common causes of dandruff in dogs.

Dry Environment and Air

Recall the chili winter mornings when you nourish your skin with loads of moisturizer to protect it against dryness.

Just like us humans, dogs can be affected by winters, and the issue of dryness remains the same. Therefore, if your canine experiences the dandruff issue just in the winter months, you can relax.

Yes, you read that right. This is called seasonal dandruff, which occurs because of a lack of humidity. So, blame it on the weather.

Obesity and Nutritional Issues

The list would be incomplete without this. An improper diet could be host to a thousand problems. Thus, a good diet goes a long way as it can help your furry friend beat several health issues altogether.

Ensure that its diet has ample essential nutrients, be it fatty acids (Omega-3s and Omega-6s) or protein.

Furthermore, do not randomly add new food items to your dogs’ diet now and then. It is advisable to consult with your vet first.

Coming to obesity, it is pretty apparent that fitness is the key to a healthy life. Obesity is the host to numerous health issues, and poor skin health is just the initial stage.

Skin Infections and Allergies

Fungal infections can be a reason behind dandruff. At the same time, sometimes, the consequences of dandruff make it easy for bacterial and fungal infections to invade the dog’s body.

Fungal and bacterial infections can complicate your furry friend’s state even more. Thus, never rely on random remedies. This strictly calls for professional care!

Moreover, if your dog has allergies, feels itchy most days, or is constantly licking its paws, it could indicate the presence of seborrhea.

Walking Dandruff

Walking dandruff is a disease that you can see on the dog’s back with the naked eye. It looks like white skin flakes. It is one type of mange caused by Cheyletiella mite.

For your canine, this condition can be pretty irritating as it will make it itch and scratch all day all night. Again, this is very common, and most of the time, you can find the flakes on your dog’s back.

Idiopathic Seborrhea

In some cases, it is impossible to identify the relevant cause. So, when the cause of this disease remains unknown, it is termed Idiopathic Seborrhea.

Although it is rare, still, if the vet finds your dog’s seborrhea unidentifiable, then probably it is a case of idiopathic seborrhea.

When Should You Visit the Vet?

Seasonal and occasional dandruff is normal, and you need not worry about that. The vet might scrape some skin for diagnosis. Furthermore, you should consider going to a vet if your canine experiences any of the following:

  • Illness

  • Excessive hair loss

  • Red-irritated skin

  • Foul odor

  • Excessive dryness

Treatment and Home Remedies

After your vet has examined and tested the scraped skin and flakes, they would be able to tell how severe the problem is.

However, if you incorporate the following in your canine’s routine, you might be able to comfort it and keep seborrhea under control.

  • Grooming: It can bring a world of difference. Regular grooming can enhance your dog’s overall health and hygiene. Brushing helps to scrape out the dead skin and hair. Brush daily in the case of persistent dandruff and weekly for casual maintenance. Consult a vet to understand more about the products you can use.

  • Bathing: Routine baths are essential for good hygiene. It can help in easing out the seborrhea condition. Also, the vet might prescribe certain dandruff-related shampoos and products. Stick to them! And lastly, while you bathe your dog, rinse properly; only then will it be helpful in seborrhea control.

  • Healthy Diet: A healthy eating habits go a long way. You never know what nutritional deficiency could make your furry friend a host to health problems. So, focus on its diet. However, don’t forget to get the diet chart checked by your vet.

Wrapping Up

We hope that clarifies the “why does my dog have dandruff?” issue! Seborrheic dermatitis in dogs can be a tricky situation. As mentioned in the article, do not worry if it is a seasonal thing. It is normal.

However, if you observe it as more than seasonal flakiness, going to a vet is safe and suitable for your dog’s health.

When it comes to health, preclusion is always better than cure! Try following the bathing, grooming, and diet remedies to guard your dog against any such situation.

Happy petting!