Written by Ella White
Ever noticed your dog licking their fur? It’s how they keep themselves clean in between bathtimes – and one of the benefits is that it keeps skin issues like dandruff at bay. But, like us humans, some dogs might still be prone to dry skin that flakes.
This can be caused by a variety of factors, including excessively dry skin, allergies, and even poor nutrition. The good news is, there are several things you can do to get rid of dandruff in dogs, and keep their skin healthy and hydrated.
Dandruff occurs when the skin becomes dry and irritated, causing little white flakes to appear. You might notice it especially around your dog’s neck, back, and tail. This usually happens as a result of unbalanced sebum – the oil naturally produced by the skin to keep it healthy.
In many cases, dandruff is a minor aesthetic issue and it won’t bother your furry friend too much. But in more serious cases, it can be very itchy and uncomfortable, and can even lead to infections if left untreated.
One of the first things you should do if you notice dandruff in your dog's coat is consider anything that might be causing an allergic reaction. Then, based on the identified cause, you can figure out the appropriate treatment with your vet.
These are some of the most common causes of dandruff in dogs, and their cures:
Food allergies, reactions to fleas and bites, and other irritations can result in your dog itching or licking the affected area excessively, leading to dry and flaky skin. Speak to your vet to identify the cause of the allergy, as different triggers will need different treatments.
For example, skin sensitivities might be cured using oatmeal or a medicated shampoo. Food allergies will require an altered diet which should only be administered with the advice and supervision of a medical professional to prevent exacerbating the issue.
Bacterial and fungal infections can also cause dryness, and should be treated with the appropriate medication as prescribed by your vet.
Like humans’, dogs’ skin can become dry in cold weather, or dry air. So if you notice that your dog’s skin becomes drier in winter – or if you have the heating or air con blasting – it could be as simple as the air causing dryness. You can’t do much about the climate you live in but make sure their dog beds or crates aren’t next to any vents, drafts, radiators, doors or windows.
In winter, in addition to regular baths, you can also use a dog-specific conditioner to help keep your dog's skin moisturized. Conditioners can be especially helpful if your dog has long hair, as it can be harder for their skin to stay hydrated underneath all that fur. Be sure to rinse the conditioner thoroughly, as any residue can irritate your dog's skin and make dandruff worse.
Don’t forget to make sure their coat is completely dry, especially if you have a double coated breed. Their thicker undercoat is designed to trap heat to keep them warm when it’s cold which means it can be harder to dry and lead to skin rashes, especially when they’re getting wet in the colder months.
It’s important to give your dog regular baths whatever the weather. This helps to keep their skin and coat healthy, and their sebum glands producing good oils at a balanced level. However, it's important to use a shampoo that is specifically designed for dogs, as human shampoos can be too harsh for their skin. Look for a shampoo that contains natural ingredients like oatmeal, aloe vera, and tea tree oil, as these can help soothe and moisturize your dog's skin.
If your dog has particularly stubborn dandruff, you may want to try a medicated shampoo or conditioner. These products contain ingredients like salicylic acid or sulfur, which can help reduce inflammation and itchiness. However, be sure to talk to your veterinarian before using any medicated products, as they may not be appropriate for all dogs.
It goes without saying that poor nutrition is bad for your dog’s overall health. But one of the first places you might notice the effects is in their skin and fur. Your dog’s diet helps keep their skin hydrated and their coat sleek and shiny. So if you’re noticing dandruff alongside a dull coat and other skin issues – or if your dog is obese from a poor or excessive diet – this could be the cause.
Make sure your dog is eating a well-balanced diet, including high-quality dog food that contains all the essential vitamins and minerals they need. Veterinarians recommend air-dried food over kibble and fresh-frozen options, as these foods often contain fresh ingredients that can help keep your dog's skin hydrated.
Another way to get rid of dandruff in dogs is to supplement their diet with essential fatty acids. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are important for maintaining healthy skin and coat, and can be found in foods like salmon, flaxseed, and fish oil supplements.
Front of the Pack’s Soothe supplement is designed to promote gut health which in turn prevents itching and other irritations. It’s made with Omega-3 fish oil to enrich skin cell membranes and support inflammatory balance, postbiotics that support a strong and healthy gut microbiome and reinforce healthy skin, and protein-rich egg membrane that reduces free radicals and oxidative damage, supporting the skin and boosting immunity.
As with many health and aesthetic issues in dogs, it's important to remember that prevention is key when it comes to dandruff. Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise, as this can help improve circulation and keep their skin healthy. Also, be sure to groom your dog regularly, as this can help remove dead skin cells, improve circulation and blood flow through the dermis, and keep their coat looking shiny and healthy.
And if your dog does suffer from dandruff from time to time, there are several things you can do to get rid of it and keep their skin healthy.
With a little effort and care, you can help your dog say goodbye to dandruff and hello to healthy, happy skin. And if your dog’s dandruff does continue to cause them irritation or is getting worse, always speak to your vet for individual advice.