Doggy and kitty dandruff is a common complaint of pet parents. And given the itchiness associated with dry, flaky skin, pets don't love it either. In general, pet dandruff can be controlled with changes in diet and grooming. Learn more about pet dandruff and why it occurs.
1. Skin cells naturally shed
Skin is constantly replenishing, and as new skin cells grow, they push old ones out from under the skin's surface. Build-up of these old, dead cells results in pet dander that forms into dry, flaky skin flecks. While all pets experience some amount of dandruff, chronic, excessive dandruff is a symptom of a larger issue.
2. Nutritional deficiencies cause flaky skin
Along with dry air and grooming issues, a pet's diet is one of the most common causes of dandruff. Processed food may lose some of its nutrients in the drying or heating process, and others do not contain the right balance of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids needed in a pet's diet. Deficiency in essential fatty acids is another common cause of dandruff.
3. There is such thing as over-grooming
Another common cause of dandruff that can easily be reversed is due to grooming. Over-grooming can cause skin to become dry and flaky, while a lack of grooming does not provide exfoliation of dead skin cells. Look to strike the right balance of bathing and brushing to ensure a healthy coat and skin. In some cases, pets can be sensitive to shampoos, so try switching them if your pet is having trouble.
4. Some dandruff can walk
Or at least it looks that way.Though it may seem like something out of a horror movie, dandruff that appears to be moving along an animal's back is a real (and highly contagious) condition. Walking dandruff, or Cheyletiellosis, is a type of mange caused by mites. It affects both cats and dogs, but most commonly occurs in puppies. Contact your veterinarian when you see symptoms of walking dandruff.
5. Dandruff can be a symptom of other medical issues
While flaky skin is typically associated with diet, climate, and grooming, it may also occur as a symptom of an outside cause. Parasites like fleas, mites, and ringworm and skin infections due to bacteria or fungus can bring on flaky, irritated skin. Allergies or hormonal conditions like hypothyroidism and Cushing's Disease can also bring on dandruff.
In the case of chronic or excessive dandruff that occurs with other symptoms, pet parents should contact their veterinarian.
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.