Have you ever wondered whether dogs get dandruff or not? The answer is yes. Dog dandruff, with seborrheic dermatitis and seborrhea as its scientific names, is no stranger to canine fur. As you inspect your dog's coat, make sure to look out for those annoying white flakes sitting atop your canine's hair. Unlike humans, who generally develop dandruff on their heads, dogs exhibit dandruff on multiple other areas, such as the back, flanks, or face. Although inoffensive at first sight, dog dandruff can be a symptom of dietary imbalances, environmental factors, and medical issues, such as allergies and skin infections. Getting rid of your dog's dandruff implies identifying its primary cause and choosing the proper treatment to eliminate both the cause and the symptom.
Are you ready to learn how to effectively get rid of your dog's dandruff? Today's blog will cover the causes behind canine dandruff and the appropriate ways to curb the appearance of dandruff in your dog's fur.
How Does Canine Dandruff Appear?
Canine dandruff is linked with abnormal production of an oil called sebum in the dog's sebaceous glands (i.e., the glands that provide the mammal hair follicles with oil). The purpose of sebum is to keep your dog's coat shiny and healthy. External factors cause the sebaceous glands to swell and increase sebum production. The oversecreted oil causes the skin cells to agglomerate and turn into the white flakes we're all familiar with in two forms:
"Dandruff, or seborrhea, can be a primary cause or a secondary cause," says Dr. Jennifer Niedziela of Countryside Veterinary Clinic in Lowville, New York. "Primary seborrhea is very rare and inherited in nature. Secondary seborrhea can be caused by allergies, internal or external parasites (Demodex, Cheyletiella), bacterial or yeast infections, certain endocrine disorders (hypothyroidism, Cushing's disease), dietary abnormalities, obesity and environmental factors such as temperature and humidity."
What Causes Hide behind Your Dog’s Dandruff?
Whether it's dry or oily, dog dandruff can have various underlying causes, from diet issues and nutrient imbalances to allergies and skin infections. So let's analyze each cause one by one and determine which cause could hide behind your dog's dandruff:
#1: Diet Issues
The skin, hair, and nails are clear indicators of your dog's overall health. Dry skin and dandruff frequently point towards an issue with fat intake; your dog might need extra fat to keep his skin healthy! Try adding more fat-rich foods, such as rotating an alternative protein such as fish, krill oil, and coconut oil, to your dog's diet for 3-4 weeks to determine whether a fat intake deficit hides behind your dog's dandruff.
Other nutrients which, when imbalanced, bring about dandruff are Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. These acids play a substantial role in keeping your dog's skin healthy. Unfortunately, the dry kibble food that numerous dogs consume contains less Omega-3 and more Omega-6 than dogs require for proper function, thus creating a twofold imbalance. Fortunately, adding krill oil to your dog's diet is sure to bring the Omega-3 intake into balance.
A stressful environment will show on your dog's skin and coat. Stress and anxiety have been linked to psoriasis, a medical condition that causes an accumulation of skin cells which, you've guessed it, leads to dandruff. If you think stress is a cause, spend some time thinking about the stressor and try to remove it. If you cannot find something obvious, try adding Volhard b vitamin complex to the diet to help the dog's body deal with stress. The less stressed your dog is, the less dandruff he will exhibit!
#3: Dry Air
With their dry air, winter months are harsher on the skin than usual. So if you notice dandruff during winter, your best bet will be to increase humidity in your home. Whether through adding houseplants to your home or installing a humidifier, your range of choices on how to increase humidity in your home is vast and comprehensive. Check out this link for more DIY ideas!
#4: Excessive Grooming
Are you grooming your dog more often than necessary? Although you have the best interests at heart, excessive grooming will eventually show on your dog's skin, which will begin to lose its valuable oils and pave the way towards dandruff. Be sure to consult yourself with a specialist on the appropriate number of grooming sessions for your dog.
Canine dandruff is a typical symptom of allergic reactions caused not only by outdoor but by indoor allergens as well. Although we don't pay much attention to it, food, environmental chemicals, and even our favorite candles, with their pungent synthetic fragrances, are enough to provoke an allergic reaction in your canine companion and lead to dandruff as one of its symptoms.
Household dangers can hide at every corner, so make sure you check out our list of products that should stay as far away from your dog as possible.
#6: Skin Infections
The great outdoors can be both exciting and detrimental to some dogs. Allergens that live outside may trigger the immune system in the dog to react, causing skin irritation or infections. With dry, irritated skin comes dandruff; therefore, if you notice dandruff on your dog shortly after an outdoor adventure, bacteria and fungi could be the actual culprits.
Aside from consulting with a specialist, you can help mitigate the allergic reaction by including a natural, antibiotic-free allergy remedy to your dog's diet. Our comprehensive list of natural allergy remedies will help you choose the perfect supplement to combat inflammation in your dog's system.
Could It Be Walking Dandruff instead of Regular Dandruff?
Apart from identifying the actual symptom behind your dog's dandruff, you must ensure that the apparent white flakes are not confused with other parasites feasting off the skin. Such is the case of Cheyletiella mites, a parasite that settles and consumes the dog's skin until ready to lay eggs on the fur. These parasites are visible with the naked eye and bear a strong resemblance to regular white dandruff flakes, which is why they're also known as "walking dandruff."
Unlike its regular counterpart, walking dandruff is highly contagious, spreading like wildfire to other pets, with approximately 20% of cases affecting humans as well. Enlist the help of a professional if you're suspecting a mite infestation in your dog's skin and coat; while regular can be treated at home naturally, walking dandruff is a tough nut to crack that requires professional help.
Ensuring That Your Dog Has a Healthy, Dandruff-free Skin
Now that we've identified the main culprits behind canine dandruff, let's discuss the most effective DIY approaches to a healthy, dandruff-free skin:
#1: Appropriate Amount of Grooming
Regular grooming is the first and fundamental step towards dispersing your dog's dandruff. As the skin secretes excessive sebum, regular grooming will help eliminate excess oils and dead skin cells before accumulating into dandruff. However, superfluous grooming is a double-edged sword: the more you brush your dog's coat, the harder it will be on the skin to preserve the necessary amount of oils. Therefore, ensure that you practice healthy grooming habits by brushing your dog's coat once per day during the dandruff outbreak and once per week for maintenance purposes.
The same applies to bathing your dog. Although he might turn his nose up at the sight of the shampoo and water hose, your canine can benefit abundantly from a monthly bathing routine. Once you implement a bathing schedule and avoid including multiple baths in the same month, your dog's skin will be less and less prone to dandruff!
#2: Avoid Oatmeal Baths
Not all DIY approaches to healthy, dandruff-free skin are friendly to your dog's skin; on the contrary, some may worsen pre-existing medical issues. For example, the Internet is riddled with articles that promote oatmeal baths as an enhancement to proper dog grooming techniques. Regardless of what one can read online, oatmeal baths can easily backfire and dry out the skin to a higher degree, thus worsening the problem.
Instead of damaging your dog's skin through undocumented methods, choose a pet-friendly shampoo that will keep your dog's skin and coat healthier than ever! With a little bit of research, you can find the best hair products to keep your dog's pH levels in check, protect his skin's coat of natural oils, and repel any unwanted parasites, all while preventing the appearance of canine dandruff.
#3: Install a Humidifier
As we mentioned earlier, living in a dry climate, especially during the harsh winter months, is no friend to our skin. With less moisture in the air your dog breathes throughout the house, what we recommend is that you research ways to humidify your home. Not only your dog, but you and your family will appreciate more humidity in the air as well! More moisture means healthier skin and, consequently, less dandruff for your dog. There's no limit to the DIY ways to improve your home's air quality, so give them a shot!
#4: Enhance Your Dog's Diet with the Right Supplementation
We've already established that Omega-3s and fat can make the difference between a clean, healthy coat and the appearance of dandruff. But the list of nutrients that can do wonders to your dog's skin does not stop there. For example, vitamin E is one of these nutrients. Aside from treating various skin disorders, such as canine atopic dermatitis (i.e., the "hot spots" on your dog's skin), vitamin E helps alleviate skin allergies and itchiness and helps repel skin mites. Although already abundant in the Volhard NDF2 dog food, you can supplement your dog's vitamin E intake by adding salmon, eggs, avocado, or spinach to his diet.
If you're looking for a product with topical use, then apple cider vinegar is your best bet! Acetic acid and alpha hydroxy acid, two of apple cider vinegar's main components, have strong anti-inflammatory properties and, therefore, are ideal for skincare (unclogging pores, absorbing excess oils, and exfoliating the skin). And the best news is that you can prepare apple cider vinegar for topical applications in the comfort of your home! All you have to do is dilute apple cider vinegar with water (50/50) and apply directly to the skin without rinsing. Be careful not to apply the solution to open wounds since your dog will not appreciate the resulting stinging pain.
A Parting Reminder
The time has come for you to relieve your dog of dandruff and other skin conditions! As long as you identify and understand the issues behind your dog's dandruff, getting rid of those pesky white flakes will be a walk in the park. For more advice on dog nutrition, health, and training, make sure that you contact us or check out our blog!