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You probably know a few humans who deal with dandruff, but did you know dogs get dandruff, too? Maybe you have noticed your pup scratching more often or have seen white flakes on his bedding. Besides irritated skin, these signs can also point to a skin condition called walking dandruff.
How do you know when dog dandruff warrants a veterinarian visit? Since the signs of canine dandruff can be very similar to other skin issues, it's important to know what to watch out for and the possible treatment options to consider.
The Facts About Dog Dandruff
Dandruff is the presence of dead skin cells on your dog's coat. Depending on the color of your dog's fur it may be difficult to actually see the flakes, but they are often visible when he hops off the couch or puts his head in your lap. There are many ways a dog's skin can get irritated. From excessive licking to a nutritional issue, the root cause of dandruff can sometimes be difficult to identify.
The first thing to ask yourself is whether you notice the dandruff all over your pup's coat or just in a particular area. Irritated skin in one concentrated spot could be due to a reaction to something your dog came in contact with, or it could be a more serious problem like an infection or parasite. Once you notice dandruff, monitor your dog's condition for a day, and visit the vet if his itching worsens or does not go away. Since skin issues can have genetic, environmental, nutritional or parasitic causes, sometimes several different treatment options have to be explored.
Preventing & Treating Dandruff
There are a few things you can do to prevent dog dandruff and other skin problems. Trupanion recommends that pet parents start by grooming their dogs regularly. Removing matted hair leaves less of a breeding ground for parasites, and regular brushing encourages you to spend a few minutes checking your dog's skin and coat to catch any problems early on. You should also look for seeds, burrs and sharp plants or objects he may have picked up on a walk.
Your vet might suggest bathing your dog more frequently to prevent dandruff. Wag! advises using a specially formulated dog dandruff shampoo and making sure you dry your pet thoroughly after his bath.
If simple preventative measures like grooming and bathing are not ridding your dog of dandruff, discuss special food options or allergy tests with your vet. They can help you find a dog food with ingredients like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin C that promote a healthy coat and immune system.
The Difference Between Dandruff and Walking Dandruff
A more serious possible cause for your dog's flaky, itchy skin is a condition called walking dandruff. MedVet clarifies that walking dandruff is a parasitic infection called cheyletiellosis that is caused by mites. If you notice your dog scratching, licking or biting his skin, check the area for hair loss, redness and scaly patches.
Walking dandruff is extremely contagious. The mites can easily spread to other pets in your household like cats and rabbits, and in about 20 percent of cases they can also affect humans, MedVet notes.
It is best to get your dog to the vet as soon as you notice he has dandruff coupled with redness or scaling. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for walking dandruff. Your vet will likely administer a topical treatment called a dip that coats your dog's fur in a mite-killing medicine. Dips and other treatments may need to be repeated once or twice every week for up to six weeks. You should also bring any other household pets to the vet for mite treatment, and you may need treat your home with a pesticide designed for killing mites and fleas.
No one likes an itchy and uncomfortable pup. Once his dandruff or other skin issues are addressed, hopefully you and your dog can enjoy more time doing the things you love, itch-free.