Dog Dandruff



At some point in your life, you might have to deal with dandruff. Did you know that your dog can get dandruff, too? Have you noticed your pet scratching way too often, or have you seen white flakes on its bed? There could be several reasons for dog dandruff, and it's important we know what to do about it.


A simple shampoo change may cure dandruff, but this depends on the severity of the issue. In some cases, a trip to the veterinarian could be necessary. How do you know if dog dandruff warrants a visit to the doctor? Let's find out!



What is dog dandruff?

Dandruff is dead skin cells found on a dog's coat. Depending on the color of your pet's fur, it might be hard to see the flakes immediately. However, you may notice the flakes when your dog hops off a chair or lays its head on your lap. 



Why does my dog have dandruff?

There are a lot of ways your dog's skin can become irritated. Skin cells naturally die, resulting in shedding. These dead skin cells are replaced by new, healthy skin cells. Dogs stay clean by self-grooming — licking their skin or fur.  If your dog is consistently shedding dry, flaky, dead skin, there may be a problem.  The issue could be as simple as a lack of grooming or, more severe like from a painful skin disease.


Related Article: Home Remedies for Pain in Dogs



Seborrhea is a skin disease where the sebaceous glands produce excessive sebum, causing red, itchy, flaky, and scaly skin. Symptoms typically manifest on the skin of the dog's back, face, or flanks (both sides of the abdomen, just in front of the rear legs).



Dog mites are tiny creatures that can burrow into your pet's skin. Mites are parasites that can cause inflammation, irritation, hair loss, and flaky skin.



Cheyletiellosis is more popularly known as a "walking dandruff," characterized by white, large mites crawling on your dog's skin and fur. Cheyletiellosis is a rare condition that causes excessive scaling.


Demodectic Mange

Mange (also known as demodicosis) is an inflammatory disease caused by the Demodex mite. Rapidly reproducing mites latch onto the dog's hair follicles and skin, which may lead to skin infections, skin lesions, and hair loss or alopecia. Mange can be localized (only affects specific areas of the body) or generalized (affects the entire body). You'll see lesions in patches, particularly on the dog's face and legs.


Related Article: Home Remedies For Dog Mange 


Skin Infections

It is common for dogs to get bacterial skin infections. Some conditions have similar symptoms, like itchiness. Since skin infections can have a range of causes and cures, we recommend that you bring your pet to the vet to make sure it receives the proper diagnosis and treatment.



Ringworm is a fungus that appears like a raised, round, red ring (no actual worms are involved). It can grow in the outermost layer of your dog's skin and hair follicles. Ringworm is a superficial infection. In most cases, ringworm affects only a few areas of the dog's body. This happens when your dog comes into contact with an animal or a human that has ringworm.  Your dog can also get it when they touch a contaminated surface like a carpet, bedding, fish bowls, or couch. 


Yeast Infections

If you notice your dog frantically tilting its head or rubbing its ear, it might have an ear infection caused by an overgrowth of yeast. Yeast infections in dogs are easy to spot. Besides rubbing, other symptoms include scabbing around the opening of their ears and a waxy residue in the ear's opening. It can be caused by trapped water in the ear canal. Allergens may also trigger ear infections. 



Dogs naturally groom themselves, keeping their coat healthy. However, they aren't as diligent as cats when it comes to self-grooming. Also, sick dogs will likely groom themselves less frequently than healthy dogs, so baths are a crucial part of dog care.  There is such a thing as too much and too little grooming, so make sure you talk to a vet about how much attention your breed of dog needs.  Improper grooming can result in dandruff, so you'll be keeping your pooch and home clean with the right care! 





Most allergens that can affect your dog come from insects, other animals, environmental factors, and food. Allergic reactions are the immune system's way of responding to a foreign substance introduced into the body. Allergic symptoms in dogs can include sneezing, itching, hair loss, heavy breathing, inflammation, hives, diarrhea, and vomiting.  



The healthiest way to address dry skin and dandruff problems in your dog is to add fish oil to your dog's diet. You can also use olive or coconut oil. Give them lots of water, particularly during the hot summer months. 


Low Humidity

Low humidity means that there is less moisture in the air. As with humans, dry air results in dry skin, and dry skin can cause dandruff. In low humidity environments, your dog will need to drink more water than usual. It would help if you also let them out more frequently.  Their fur will also dry out if there is low humidity inside the house, causing their skin to be itchy.  Consider investing in a humidifier if the air in your home is leading to dog dandruff.



Dandruff (seborrhea) can be categorized as a primary or secondary cause. "Primary cause" means that the animal is born with dry skin and dandruff. "Secondary cause" refers to dandruff that results from underlying conditions. Primary dandruff is rare and usually inherited. Secondary seborrhea is caused by parasites, bacterial infections, yeast infections, endocrine disorders, obesity, dietary abnormalities, and allergies.



Endocrine Disorders

Endocrine disorders are mainly caused by an imbalance in hormone levels. These are a few examples of endocrine disorders:


  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Cushing's disease
  • Hypothyroidism


Diabetes mellitus

Caused by insufficient insulin. Symptoms in dogs are weight loss, excessive thirst, excessive hunger, and frequent urination. 



Characterized by an underactive thyroid which may cause a decrease in the production of the thyroid hormone in the thyroid glands. It is a common illness in middle-aged and older dogs.


Cushing's Disease

Cushing's disease occurs when a dog's body produces too much cortisol, a hormone that triggers a stress response, fights infections, keeps blood sugars at acceptable levels, and controls weight gain. It is also referred to as hypercortisolism. 



Symptoms of Dandruff in Dogs

  • Flakes
  • Discomfort 
  • Itchiness
  • Skin redness



How to Get Rid of Dog Dandruff

For most dogs, dandruff can easily be treated at home. If you are having doubts, you may consult a vet on the best approach to dandruff. Unless it is caused by genetics, the solution will be based on the underlying cause. The following are some treatment options.



Shampoo for Dog Dandruff

Use a dog shampoo that removes dandruff. Look for dog shampoo containing beneficial ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, CBD oil, coal tar, sulfur, and salicylic acid. 


CBD Shampoo (for Dogs)

CBD is a cannabinoid that can boost the overall well-being of your pooch. There are receptors on dogs' skin that activate once in contact with CBD. CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors to produce healthy oils in the skin, thereby preventing dryness. The best CBD shampoos also contain the beneficial ingredients found in other canine shampoos.





Oatmeal Shampoo (for Dogs)

Oatmeal cleans and softens a dog's coat. It helps soothe and ease itching and scratching, reduces inflammation, and keeps your dog's skin hydrated. 


Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for dogs. One of the best sources for omega fatty acids is fish oil. You can add fish oil (in liquid or gel capsule form) to your dog's diet to ease allergy-related symptoms such as itchiness.



Regular grooming will help clear up dandruff and keep the skin and coat clean and healthy. Brush your pet's coat on a schedule to distribute and encourage the skin's natural oils. Grooming will also ensure that you catch a skin-related problem as early as possible. 


Diet and Hydration

Increase omega-3 fatty acids in your pet's diet to help promote coat and skin health. Fish oil also soothes inflammation. Feed your dog healthy food and treats and make sure they stay hydrated. 


Preventing Dog Dandruff

The best way to prevent dog dandruff is by grooming your pooch regularly. Remove matted hair because it can become a breeding ground for parasites. Brush the fur weekly and spend a few minutes before and after each brushing to examine its skin and coat health. Frequent baths are also helpful for dogs with dry skin, especially with a bit of oatmeal in the water.


Related: How Often Should You Wash Your Dog?


Buy a humidifier

Dog dandruff can be caused by dry air. Often, wintertime brings low humidity. If you want to combat the dryness that comes with colder months, consider a humidifier. These handy devices add moisture to the air, nourishing both your skin and your dog's!



How to Treat Your Pooch to a Massage

Aside from relieving stress, a massage can help soothe inflammation and itchiness caused by dandruff. It also helps release natural oils into the body. With a flat palm, slowly go through all the parts of your dog's body. Focus on what you are feeling. Pay attention to the fur, skin, muscle, fat, and bones. Go slowly, and pay attention to your dog's comfort level. Do this simple massage for about 10 minutes. 



Homemade Leave-on Treatment

Does your dog need a revitalizing spa day? We've got just the leave-on treatment to nourish their skin:



  • ¼ cup water 
  • ¼ cup oatmeal (finely ground) 
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2-3 drops essential oils of your choice (optional) 



  • Mix all the ingredients before transferring to a clean bottle.
  • Massage on the dog's coat before bath time. 
  • Let the treatment stay on the coat for 5-10 minutes, then rinse. 



Final Thoughts

Dog dandruff is a minor condition and easily treatable. With the proper care and attention, dogs with dandruff likely won't be kept from enjoying the things they love most. If the problem becomes severe, bring your pooch to the vet. Scheduled grooming, a balanced diet, and regular exercise should be enough to keep dog dandruff at bay.


Beneficial products like humidifiers and CBD shampoo can assist your dog's skin even more!






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