Seborrheic dermatitis is the clinical term for severe dog dandruff. It’s relatively common in dogs. When dogs excessively shed skin cells, and the cells become visible, that is what is considered dandruff. If your dog develops excessive dandruff, his coat might become dull, and feel rough to the touch. He will also become itchy, and may sometimes scratch to the point where he creates open sores on himself.
When owners don’t know much about dandruff, they tend to think that giving their dog a simple bath will fix the problem. Most of the time, this is not the case. Firstly, if you’re going to give your dog a bath due to dandruff flakes, you will need to get a specially-formulated dandruff shampoo. However, there is something more effective you can do to ease the problem.
Causes of Dog Dandruff
There are multiple causes for dog dandruff. It can also be a sign that something more concerning is going on. Many illnesses and disorders can cause excessive dandruff, such as:
- Hormonal imbalances
- Bacterial infection
- Parasites (Fleas and Ticks)
Additionally, the colder weather during the winter months can also cause dandruff. If your dog has dandruff, then he most likely has dry skin. Dry skin gets worse in certain climates where there is a lack of moisture in the air, both inside and outside. In the colder months, the heater comes on. Heaters also take all the moisture out of the air and can contribute to your dog’s dry skin. Some other, less likely causes include:
Diabetes Mellitus will also cause dandruff the more serious the diabetes gets. Diabetes is most common in older and overweight dogs. Males are also more prone to this disease.
Parasites can also be a cause of dandruff. Intestinal tapeworms will most certainly cause dandruff to flare up. Allergic skin reactions due to fleas and other parasites will also cause dandruff to become more prominent in your dog.
Overweight and obese dogs will also be more prone due to the development of flaky skin.
Treatments for Dog Dandruff
There are a lot of different home remedies that can be done to cure dandruff if there is no underlying illness causing it.
Use a humidifier
Using a humidifier is one common way to ease your dog’s dry, itchy skin. If your dog sleeps in a certain part of the house, or if he sleeps in a spare room, set up a humidifier near him. This will actually help to keep him from getting sick as well. The moisture that the humidifier adds will clear out your dog’s nose.
Omega-3 fatty acid
Omega-3 fatty acids will keep his skin moisturized, and fur healthy. There are several different kinds of foods and treats that contain Omega-3 fatty acids. If the cause of the dandruff is as benign as excessively dry skin, you may want to change his regular food to a new one with higher Omega-3 or fish oils. You could also try a daily supplement. If excess fleas are drying out your dogs skin use these treatments.
Brushing and Grooming
Regular brushing will also be extremely helpful. Doing something as simple as brushing or combing his fur will get his blood circulating. This will re-infuse the hair and skin.
Diagnosing Dog Dandruff
If the above treatment methods aren’t providing any relief, it may be time to visit your vet. There could possibly be an underlying issue causing the dandruff and your vet will be able to take it from here. To find out the cause of your dog’s dandruff, your vet may conduct various tests based on his suspicions. These include:
- A complete blood cell count (CBC)
- Serum chemistries
- Hormone tests
- A skin scraping
- A skin culture
After discovering the cause, your vet will treat your dog for the underlying problem that was causing the dandruff. It will eventually clear up.
Prevention of Dog Dandruff
Keeping up with your dog’s regular veterinarian maintenance is going to keep you on top of any parasites that may lead to dandruff. Your veterinarian will also be able to spot more serious causes, like diabetes. Normal fecal exams will be able to spot any underlying causes. If they are caught early on, you might be able to fix an underlying issue before it becomes a more serious problem.
You also want to be cautious about what kind of food you’re feeding your dog. Low-end dog food doesn’t have the nutritional value your dog needs to maintain a healthy coat. This doesn’t mean that you have to buy the most expensive food either. Just make sure the food has essential fatty acids, like Omega-3. Read the labels and know what to look for. Proteins and vitamins B and E nourish the skin and fur. Canned, and homemade foods will usually contain a higher amount of protein and less carbohydrates. Brands such as Blue Buffalo have higher quality ingredients that are ideal for your dog’s optimal health and coat.
The best way to prevent your dog from getting dandruff is by making sure he is properly bathed and groomed. A regular grooming schedule will keep his skin and fur healthy. Avoid bathing him too often as this will remove the natural oils from your dog’s skin.
If your dog has gotten into a sticky situation in between scheduled baths, try using a dry shampoo powder. A dry powder shampoo will be gentle on the skin while still absorbing the dirt and mess from your dog’s coat. You just sprinkle on the dry powder, rub it all over your dog, and then rub them down with a damp cloth.
Regular brushing is also a great way to prevent the onset of dandruff. It will move the essential nutrients and oils throughout your dog’s fur, making it smooth and shiny.
Some Additional Tips
If you want to know the best ways to take care of your dog’s dandruff, you should consult your veterinarian. Dog dandruff might not be a serious disease, but it can be a symptom of a deeper underlying issue. Many diseases will first appear on the skin as a tell-tale sign that there is something else going on.
To determine what the issue is, there may be a fecal exam conducted, blood work, urinalyses or even biopsies. Keep an eye on your dog, and if you see something concerning, please see your vet. If your dog could make an appointment for himself when he’s not feeling well, he would.