Dandruff in Pets: What Causes it and Is it Serious

By August 28, 2017Blog
Animal dandruff

While there are certainly differences between the health issues pets face and the health issues humans face, there are also some basic similarities. For example, many pet skin problems mimic human skin problems, with many of the same causes and solutions. Dandruff–the irritating, uncomfortable condition one experiences when they have overly dry and flaky skin–is something that our pets can suffer from just as much as we can. Unfortunately, they are not able to verbalize their discomfort and must, therefore, rely upon us to not only detect the condition but also determine the cause of the condition and institute a solution.

Pet Skin Issues

There are, obviously, many different types of pet skin conditions, and some are more serious than others. It is therefore very helpful to know the signs of some of the more common skin conditions and to get professional advice from a veterinarian where needed. One of the most basic and common skin conditions is pet dandruff, an accumulation of dead skin cells which clump together in large flakes, which often has a very simple cause and solution if discovered and addressed early on. Following are some of the most common causes and solutions for pet dandruff:

  • Allergies. Just as humans can be affected by allergens in everything from dust and pollen to household cleaners and certain foods, so too can our pets. These allergens can cause either an internal reaction that manifests on the skin with rashing and dryness or they can cause a topical reaction where they come into contact with the pet’s skin and create rashing and dryness.
  • Fungal skin infections and bacteria. Fungal skin infections and bacteria can either be localized in a specific area of the pet’s body or they can become inflamed and affect their entire body, creating rashing and dryness.
  • Environmental dryness. While high levels of humidity may very well be uncomfortable for your furry companion, so too can low levels of humidity be uncomfortable. A dry environment can serve to strip natural moisture from your pet’s skin, leaving it dry and irritated. This is often further exacerbated when your pet scratches at their dry skin.
  • Inappropriate diet. There are a couple ways that your pet’s diet can lead to dandruff issues. First of all, their diet could contain allergens–like certain grains–that they should avoid. Second of all, their diet could be lacking in the sufficient types of vitamins, minerals, and fats they need in order to have a healthy coat and skin.
  • Cheyletiella mites. These mites are white and therefore are often confused with flakes of dandruff. Unfortunately, they like to burrow into a pet’s coat and skin to lay their eggs, which is incredibly uncomfortable.

Solving Dandruff Problems

Dandruff is not usually a serious problem, as long as it is spotted and handled early on and before it exacerbates into other skin issues. You can help your pet experience some relief by:

  • Daily brushing. A good brushing can help to distribute natural oils in your pet’s coat and massage them into the skin, which can not only help to alleviate some of the dryness but also work to promote further oil production.
  • Improving their diet. High-quality pet foods are well worth the investment, as they will allow your pet to experience better overall health, comfort, and happiness. You may also want to find out from your veterinarian if your pet could benefit from nutritional supplements, either for a short time or on a more permanent basis, in order to further boost their diet.
  • Providing plenty of fresh, clean water. This will help to ensure your pet is sufficiently hydrated.
  • Bathing them with special shampoo. Some pet shampoos are formulated to specifically address dandruff and other skin issues and can provide great relief. These shampoos often contain oatmeal, which is very soothing to the skin. Do not use human dandruff shampoos, they are too harsh.

Of course, if your pet is suffering from dandruff issues and none of the above help or their condition worsens, you should take them to see your veterinarian as soon as possible. They will rule out other possibilities and help provide more effective solutions as needed.

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