Why do dogs get dandruff?

Has your pooch been leaving behind white flakes on their favorite spot on the couch? Your canine companion might have dandruff, which could be a sign of health problems. Join our Simi Valley vets to learn about signs and treatments for dandruff in dogs. 

Do dogs really get dandruff?

They do, indeed! Dogs, like their human companions, develop dandruff when dead skill cells slough off more frequently than usual and land on your pet's fur or hair. These dry flakes can be felt when you pet or scratch your dog because they tend to collect on the back of dogs, especially close to the tail.

Your dog's skin, like yours, has glands that produce iul (sebum), which helps to keep the skin hydrated and supple. If the glands produce too much sebum, it can cause imbalances and dandruff. Dogs are susceptible to both types of seborrheic dermatitis: seborrhea sica (dry) and seborrhea (oily).

Why does my dog have dandruff?

Dandruff can affect dogs of any breed and have a variety of causes, such as genetic disorders (primary seborrhea, which affects Basset Hounds and Cocker spaniels), but it is frequently brought on by environmental or health-related issues.

Although not exhaustive, here are some common causes of dandruff in dogs:

Dry Air

Similar to their human families, dogs are more prone to dry skin in the winter. In regions where forced central heating is the primary means of preserving home warmth, the problem may deteriorate. Dry air may be to blame if your dog acts brittle in the winter.

External Parasites

In addition to external parasites that can live on your dog's skin and cause severe discomfort, dogs can also itch due to dry skin. renowned parasites The term "Walking Dandruff" refers to Cheyletiella mites, which are large enough to be seen without a microscope and resemble white dandruff flakes. If your dog's "dandruff flakes" begin to move on their own, contact your veterinarian right away for parasite prevention. Other pets in the house can easily become infected with parasites (such as mites).

Nutrition Issues

The skin and coat of your dog can suffer from an unbalanced or improper diet. Foods containing fatty acids, such as omega-3s and omega-6s, are crucial to maintaining the health of your pet's skin and hair, but only your veterinarian is qualified to tell you if your pet needs additional nutrients.

Skin Infections

Skin bacterial and fungal infections can also be the cause of dandruff on your dog, as they are adept at taking advantage of damage or weaknesses in your pooch's skin. These underlying conditions will have to be treated appropriately to address the dandruff issue. 


One of the initial symptoms of an allergy to a food or something in your dog's environment is typically skin problems. In addition to other symptoms like recurrent ear and skin infections, dogs with allergies may become flakier and itchier at different times of the year. Dandruff is also commonly present.

Hormonal Conditions

Diseases like Cushing's or hypothyroidism can affect your dog's skin health, which, along with a compromised immune system, can make them more susceptible to secondary infections.

Idiopathic (Spontaneous) Seborrhea

If the underlying cause of your dog's dandruff cannot be found, it may be categorized as "idiopathic," meaning that while the symptoms of your dog's dry, flaky skin may be successfully treated, the underlying cause may not be found. More guidance on how to handle your pet's condition can be obtained from your veterinarian.

Although dandruff is annoying and can be uncomfortable for many dogs if it is mild or seasonal it is usually not a cause for concern. If, however, your pet exhibits signs of dry, flaky skin along with these symptoms, head to the vet for a physical examination:

  • Itchiness
  • Skin odor
  • Excessive dandruff
  • Loss of hair/fur
  • Irritated, red skin
  • Excessive licking of paws or legs
  • Signs of feeling unwell or being uncomfortable

Your dog's symptoms and your vet's findings will determine the next course of action, which could include further diagnostic testing to confirm any issues such as underlying health problems, allergic reactions, or potential parasites. 

Treatment for Dog Dandruff

Luckily, most milder cases of dog dandruff can be treated at home with a combination of instructions and guidelines from your primary vet, and these helpful tips:

  • Groom your pet regularly to ensure their skin isn't overly oily and removes dead hair. Check with your vet before using grooming products on your dog.
  • Bathing your dog can help treat dandruff, bacterial and fungal skin infections, and other conditions. If your veterinarian recommends medicated shampoo for your dog, carefully follow the directions. Avoid giving your dog a thorough bath because it may aggravate dandruff!
  • Supplements can be helpful, but be aware that many commercial supplements are not heavily regulated for pets. Ask your vet for recommendations.
  • Use a humidifier in your home if the air is dry. During winter months especially, your dog (and your family!) could find this helpful for preventing dry skin.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog has dry, flaky skin, contact our Simi Valley veterinarians to book an examination today! Our compassionate, skilled vet team will do all they can to have your canine companion feeling their best again.