If you have a black Labrador or a dark dog breed it may be quite easy to spot those annoying little white flakes referred to as dandruff. However, it's a lot more difficult to detect dandruff in light-colored pets. Therefore, you must understand additional symptoms so you can learn how to treat dandruff in dogs.
What many don't know is that dog dandruff tends to be a secondary, therefore it's a smart idea to consult your veterinarian for additional help. However, if your dog is experiencing dandruff there is a likely chance, they may have allergies, dry skin, small infection, or environmental influencers that are causing dandruff. Therefore, if you continue reading, you'll begin to understand what to look for in your dog and how to treat dandruff in dogs as well.
Causes of Dog Dandruff -
When it comes to learning how to treat dandruff in dogs, you must first understand what causes the condition. Therefore, we've evaluated the top three most common causes for dogs to have dandruff.
Changing Climates -
The first and most common cause of dandruff in dogs is climate change. As seasons come and go especially from summer to fall and winter. The climate can change from an abundance of moisture in the air to fall and winter when the humidity and moisture begins to get dry. As a result, and the climate changes from humid to dry your dog’s skin goes through the same changes. Therefore, your dog’s skin can begin to dry and crack causing dandruff to become visible on the surface of their coat if they have dark fur. However, if they have a light coat you may find dandruff on a dark dog bed or blanket, they sleep on.
Poor Dietary Intake -
The second most common cause of dandruff in dogs would be a poor diet. The days are gone when you go down the dog food aisle and see just two brands and pick the cheapest. Now if you walk into your local pet store you may find two, three, or maybe even four isles dedicated to just dog food. Why? Because dog owners such as yourself demand a high-quality diet for their dog. However, with that said there are dozens and dozens of food manufacturers and not all are created equal. It's easy to look at a bag and assume it's a good diet for your dog. However, you must dig into the ingredients and know exactly the quality of diet you're providing your dog. Because dogs can get dandruff due to a lack of vitamins, nutrients, fat, protein which can cause unhealthy skin and coat.
Health Conditions -
The third most common causes of dandruff are health conditions. There is a wide array of conditions dogs can contract from mites, to auto-immune diseases that can cause poor quality skin and lead to dandruff. Some of these health conditions can be avoided by taking proper care of your dog, but some health conditions are hard to avoid if they're due to conditions the dog has from a puppy on.
How To Spot Dandruff Symptoms On Your Dog -
Spotting dandruff in your dog can be a very easy task if you have a dark-colored dog with short to moderately short hair. However, this can be a bit more challenging if your dog has a light-colored coat. For starters, you're looking for small white flakes of dried skin that occur on the surface of your dog’s coat. For example, I have a black lab whose coat makes dandruff easy to identify.
However, some other signs and symptoms to look for in all colored fur are quite easy. The first way to look and identify dandruff symptoms is to look for your dog scratching more than normal. If your dog is consistently scratching their coat throughout the day, it's a good time to exam their coat for dandruff. The second way to look for dandruff or if you've identified some abnormal scratching is to use a brush or a comb. Give your dog a thorough brush and look in the clumps of hair for dandruff as you brush. Another great way to look for dandruff is to examine your dogs’ bed, blanket, or kennel and if they have a light-colored blanket or bed you may want to put a darker blanket to make it easier to identify dandruff.
How To Treat Dandruff In Dogs -Now that you know the causes of dandruff and how to spot dandruff in dogs it's time to learn how to treat dandruff in dogs.
Grooming Your Dog –
The best way to treat dandruff & other pet skin & coat problems like dry skin, mites, etc in the short-term is with grooming. This essentially comes down to brushing & grooming your dog. Ideally we'd recommend brushing your dog daily to keep they dry skin & flakes out of their coat to keep it healthy, but that might not be a realistic expectation. Try to make brushing your pet 2-3 times a week your goal to remove the dead skin from their coat. We highly recommend brushing your dog with a high quality brush like the Furminator or something similar. This also helps reduce shedding, which can also contribute to dry, itchy skin for your pet.
After brushing, we highly recommend using some sort of shampoo prevention. While most people think that pet shampoo is the answer to long-term skin & coat issues, but that simply isn't the case. With that being said, dog shampoo can certainly help with dry skin & itchy skin that often get dandruff in dogs coats.
To keep your dog's skin & coat healthy, we highly recommend using a shampoo with coconut oil to help hydrate your dogs skin. Most veterinarians for pets can point you in the right direction of a high quality dandruff shampoo for your dog. As far as frequency of bathing your dog goes, we recommend giving your dog a bath no more than every 3-4 weeks. Bathing your dog more frequently than that, even with high quality pet dandruff shampoo, can actually create even more dead skin cells & conditions that create dandruff.
Balanced Diet & Nutrition –
According to veterinarians, the primary cause of dandruff in dogs & other pets is actually from their food & diet. Commonly your dog will end up having skin allergies as a result of the grain or protein in their food, even if it is a high quality dog food recommended by a vet. These allergies irritate the skin cells, causing both dry skin & itchy skin, ultimately resulting in flakes & dandruff. In other words, dandruff is a symptom of other skin conditions, and their diet is often the underlying cause.
The best way for an owner to provide the best dog care to treat the underlying cause of dandruff & to prevent flaky skin long-term is to get their diet & nutrition right. Oftentimes this means increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids, commonly with a natural fish oil supplement, or better yet a natural krill oil supplement like Alpha Dog Nutrition's Vitality. Some dog owners also give their dog a scoop of coconut oil to keep their skin healthy, although veterinarians haven't found that to be as effective for skin issues as omega-3 fatty acids.
Consult With A Veterinarian –
The last and most advisable approach is to ask your vet for treatment and prevention options if you have a dog with persistent dandruff that can’t seem to be treated. This is a great dog care step to take in treating your dog’s dandruff, as dandruff can be an indicator that there are other needs your dog may require that a veterinarian is trained to treat and diagnosis.
This should go without saying, but if you ever have concerns about pet health your veterinarian is oftentimes your best resource. While there are certainly other ways to find information about how to keep your dog healthy (like this blog), it simply isn't a substitute for a vet having a firsthand look at your dog and being able to physically see them in a veterinarian dog care center.