Otherwise known as Seborrhea, dandruff in canines is characterized by dry, flaky skin, and often oily skin, however, in serious cases, it can also lead to hair loss. Here's a beginner's guide to Seborrhea, its symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention.
Depending on the breed of the dog, dandruff can present itself as
either oily clumps of dead skin or dry flaky skin which can lead
to excessive shedding and irritation.
Dandruff, or Seborrhea, often present themselves through many
variants including, but not limited to Cheyletiellosis and Atopic
dermatitis. This condition either manifest as oily lumps of dead
skin which stick to the fur of breeds like Labradors, Spaniels,
and Basset Hounds, or as dry skin flakes that dot the coats of
Dobermans, German Shepherds, and Dachshunds.
This condition is sometimes accompanied by excessive shedding and
itching. Seborrhea can be a primary cause or a secondary symptom
of a more serious condition. While primary Seborrhea is an
extremely rare genetic condition, secondary Seborrhea, which is
much more common is often a symptom of a serious skin disease,
hormonal imbalance, allergies, or parasitic infections.
Environmental factors like dry air and extreme temperatures,
grooming habits, diet etc., can also play a part in triggering
Consulting a vet at the onset of any signs of Seborrhea is highly
recommended in order to diagnose the exact cause, in order to
arrest and treat any underlying conditions. For instance,
Cheyletiellosis, a highly contagious mite infection can easily
get mistaken for an innocuous case of dandruff. The Cheyletiella
mite, that lives in the keratin level of their host, often carry
scales of dead skin, earning them the name ‘walking dandruff’. A
simple skin scrape can help your vet diagnose this parasitic
condition, which is easily treated with a course of insecticides.
However, if left unchecked it can cause severe dry skin and
irritation. In addition to the Cheyletiella mite, other parasites
like Sarcoptic mange and Demodex mange can also present
dandruff-like symptoms, though these infections are much more
severe. While the Sarcoptic mange or canine scabies is
characterized by irritation, hair loss and pimples, the Demodex
causes dry skin, scaling and lesions around the eyes and face.
All of these can be topically treated with medicated
anti-parasite shapes and powders.
Dandruff is also one of the most common symptoms of allergies
that dogs exhibit. A host of food intolerances, reactions to
insect saliva and bites, and environmental irritants like pollen
and dander, can present themselves as dandruff. This form of
dandruff, diagnosed as Atopic dermatitis is often accompanied by
other symptoms like skin inflammation and discolouration.
Consulting with your vet can help narrow down the most likely
allergens and help form a plan of action accordingly. While
knowledge of your dog’s genetic history is key to ruling out any
hereditary possibilities, a detailed blood screen along with an
allergy panel helps determine your dog’s degree of intolerance to
pests, foods, and environmental irritants.
After a diagnosis, it is important to supplement medication with
a balanced diet plan and grooming routine. Though Atopic
dermatitis never goes into complete remission, regularly bathing
your dog in cold water along with anti-itching shampoos can help
relieve discomfort. It is pertinent to only use vet-grade
products to bathe and groom your dog to avoid further irritation.
Additionally, your vet can also recommend corticosteroids and
daily antihistamines to tackle environmental irritants. In more
chronic cases, such as hypersensitivity, or atopy,
hyposensitization therapy can also be recommended, where small
doses of irritants are directly injected into the bloodstream to
promote the growth of antibodies and create resistance to
allergies. It is important to consult your vet regarding the best
course of action, as treatment is entirely dependent on the
degree of allergic responses and your dog’s reaction to
medication. Many vets have taken to prescribing homoeopathic
regimes to counter allergies. Though homoeopathy takes much
longer to come into effect than allopathy, it is a much less
invasive course of treatment and has proved to be beneficial in
the long run.
While medical intervention is necessary to treat the underlying
causes of dandruff, actively monitoring your dog’s health is key
to its well-being. Though topical ointments can relieve dry skin
and irritation to a great degree, nothing can substitute regular
grooming and a healthy diet. In order to stimulate hair
follicles, it is crucial to use a hard brush and provide adequate
pressure while grooming. Regular grooming not only promotes a
healthy coat but also induces a sense of well-being.
Along with regular grooming, a carefully monitored diet ensures
that your canine’s nutritional requirements are met and prevents
excessive weight gain. Canine obesity not only triggers dandruff
but also leads to a host of other, more severe, and often lethal
medical complications. Pre-prepared pet food already accommodates
the dietary needs of your pet, though individual requirements
might mandate extra supplements. Including omega rich meats like
fish, or supplementing daily meals with Salmon oil goes a long
way in ensuring a healthy coat and skin.
Further, there are additional measures that can be taken to
relieve irritation and itchiness at the onset of seasonal
allergies. There are special oils and sprays designed to lock in
moisture, medicated sprays to help relieve itchiness, and
anti-dandruff dog shampoos which can minimize the symptoms of
Atopic dermatitis. Coconut oil massages before baths can prevent
dry skin induced by frequent bathing, while a healthy fat-rich
diet can improve the quality of fur. Finally, extreme itching and
irritation brought on by dermatitis might also lead to a
condition called Lick Granuloma, where constant licking creates
wounds that penetrate several layers of skin. Contrary to popular
belief, canine saliva instead of healing wounds, hosts a plethora
of bacteria which infects small pockets in these wounds. What
begins as small lesions, eventually become large, infested,
A regime of antibiotics, anti-inflammatory, and topical
antibacterial creams are then prescribed. In extreme cases,
additional surgical intervention might also be needed, where
infected tissue is surgically removed. While an Elizabethan
collar or cast might temporarily allow a Granuloma to heal, the
canine might resume licking when they are removed. Constant
irritation leads to habitual licking. Carefully monitoring your
dog is thus crucial to warding off further discomfort.
How Should You Treat Doggy Dandruff?
Seeing your dog deal with dandruff problems is understandably
stressful. Not just because it makes a big mess all around the
house, but also because it could mean that there’s something
wrong with his skin. There are lots of different things that can
cause dandruff. Like parasites, allergies, food sensitivities, or
even an underlying medical condition.Just like in humans, doggy
dandruff is never just that. And so it should never be seen as a
normal occurrence. When you spot dandruff on your dog, book an
appointment with your vet at your earliest convenience. Your vet
is the only person who can efficiently identify the cause of this
problem.Signs of dandruff include the presence of white flakes
around the base of your dog’s tail and on his back. Dandruff also
causes an oily coat. It shouldn’t be too hard to identify and
once you do, it’s time to take action.
Here are a few ideas:
Groom and bathe him on a
regular basis.Grooming your dog is one of the most
important parts of keeping his coat dandruff free and healthy.
Once your vet examines your dog, he may recommend certain
shampoos that you can use while giving him his bath. Mud baths
are famous for getting rid of dandruff. They exfoliate dry and
dead skin, leaving your doggo with a clean and glossy coat.
Change his diet.Diet
changes can do a lot for your dog. Especially if the cause of
dandruff is food sensitivities or allergies. You can sit down
with your vet to come up with a new and improved diet plan for
your dog to beat the dandruff situation.
Keep his environment
stress-free.Stress is one of the major causes of
dandruff both in humans and animals alike. If your dog had
recently gone through an especially stressful situation,
there’s a good chance that that’s the reason behind the
dandruff outbreak. It might be a good idea to give him some
peace by creating a stress-free environment. Entertain him to
keep the pressure off by playing games like fetch and going for
long, relaxing walks. If that doesn’t seem to do it, call in
the professionals. A dog behaviorist or trainer could help.
Give him a good brushing
every day.Add brushing to his daily routine. Brushing
helps with keeping your dog’s coat healthy. It even removes
dead skin and increases the healthy oils on his coat.
help.Make sure you talk to your vet about this before
you go through with it. There are a few skin conditions that
could be treated by simply adding some supplements to your
pet’s diet. Fatty oils like Omega-3 can help decrease dandruff
by increasing the oils on his skin.