Flaky skin and dandruff in cats and dogs can cause discomfort and can be a sign of a larger problem. Find out what to watch for and how to help.
Pet dander, or dandruff, occurs naturally as the body sheds skin cells and replaces them with new ones. And like humans, dogs and cats can develop a buildup of dandruff and flaking when their skin is dry or lacking in nutrients.
Dandruff and flaky skin in pets can be caused by a variety of reasons, but it most commonly occurs because of diet and grooming issues. Pets residing in dry or cold climates may also develop flaky skin due to the air conditions.
Pet dandruff can also be a symptom of a larger medical issue that needs to be addressed by a veterinarian. Deficiencies and diseases associated with flaky skin may cause your pet discomfort and even signify poor health.
The most common causes of pet dandruff are associated with grooming, climate, and nutrition. Most of these issues can easily be reversed, but flaky skin can also be linked to more serious medical concerns, such as hormonal diseases, allergies, or parasites like fleas and mites. Chronic flaky skin or dandruff that is accompanied by other severe symptoms should be examined by a veterinarian.
Most pet parents will recognize flaky skin as white flecks on their pet's fur, much like human dandruff. Other symptoms that may show up when a pet has excessive dandruff include dry, scaly skin, irritation, infection, and cracks or sores in the skin. These symptoms will often be accompanied by your pet scratching, biting, and licking their coat.
Depending on the underlying cause, flaky skin can be treated in a number of ways. Dandruff will likely go away with a more balanced grooming schedule, switching shampoos, and adjusting bathing frequency. If nutritional deficiencies are the cause of pet dandruff, then a simple change in diet can relieve and eliminate symptoms quickly.
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.