Dandruff doesn't only plague humans with dry scalps. Cats and dogs commonly develop dander buildup and flaky skin due to grooming, climate, and nutritional issues or deficiencies, as well as medical conditions or parasites that bring on dry, flaking skin.
And while dandruff is often considered a vanity issue more than a condition, it can be extremely discomforting to pets. Pets experience itchy, irritated skin when dandruff occurs, and scratching and biting at their skin can lead to infection.
Look out for the following symptoms if you’re concerned with your pet’s flaky skin.
Much like humans, the most common calling card of pet dandruff is buildup of dander, resulting in flaking skin. Skin flakes will appear as tiny white flecks of skin that can be found on fur, blankets, pet bedding, and furniture. In more severe conditions, dandruff will have a crustier appearance. Dandruff may be more noticeable on pets with darker hair. While some amount of flaking is normal, excessive and chronic dandruff should be addressed immediately.
Underneath a pet's coat, look out for signs of dry or irritated skin. Symptoms can include scaly skin, cracks in the skin, or sores. In some cases, pet owners may find oily patches of skin, and even hotspots.
Pets with dandruff will scratch more frequently than normal. Biting and licking at their fur and skin is also a sign of itchy skin and dandruff.
If the dandruff on a pet's skin appears to be moving, it can be due to Cheyletiellosis, a highly contagious form of mange that occurs in both dogs and cats. Walking dandruff is a skin disease caused by mites. The symptoms of Cheyletiellosis are similar to symptoms of regular flaky skin (dry, scaling skin, itching), but may also include redness and hair loss, and of course the appearance that the dandruff is moving or walking along the animal's back.
Pet owners who observe any of these symptoms should consider changing the grooming and dietary habits of their pets. If symptoms persist or worsen, contact a veterinarian to do a thorough checkup.
More on Skin Health:
Common Skin Problems in Dogs
Dermatitis in Pets
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.