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Have you observed some flaky substance on your dog's coat? Your furry friend may have dandruff, which could indicate other health issues. Join our vets at Laguna Woods to get insights on the symptoms and remedies for managing dandruff in dogs.

Why does my dog have dandruff?

Dogs, like humans, can experience dandruff for various reasons. Dry skin, a common cause, can be induced by factors such as changes in weather, indoor heating, or frequent bathing with harsh shampoos. Moreover, skin dryness and flakiness in dogs can be exacerbated by poor nutrition and lacking essential fatty acids. Furthermore, dandruff can be caused by certain underlying health conditions.

What underlying health issues cause dandruff in dogs?

Dandruff in dogs can be a troublesome issue due to several underlying health issues that may contribute to its occurrence. Here are some common health issues that can cause dandruff in dogs:

Dry Air

Dogs are more prone to dry skin in winter months, just like their human families. In areas where central ('forced') heat is the main source of home warming, dry skin can be worsened. If your pup seems to be flaky in the winter, dry air could be the cause. 

External Parasites

Dry skin may cause itching in dogs, but several external parasites can also inhabit your dog's skin, causing significant discomfort. The notorious Cheyletiella mites, for instance, are visible to the naked eye and closely resemble white dandruff flakes, earning them the nickname 'Walking Dandruff.' If the 'dandruff flakes' on your dog appear to be moving independently, prompt action is necessary to prevent parasites, and a visit to your vet is advisable. Certain parasites, such as mites, can readily spread to other pets within the household.

Nutrition Issues

If your dog's diet is not balanced or appropriate, it can negatively impact their skin and coat. To maintain your pet's skin and hair in good condition, it's important to include foods that contain fatty acids like omega-3s and omega-6s. However, it's crucial to consult your veterinarian to determine if your pet needs additional nutrients.

Skin Infections

Skin bacterial and fungal infections can also cause dandruff on your dog, as they can take advantage of damage or weaknesses in your pup's skin. These underlying conditions must be treated appropriately to address the dandruff issue. 


Skin problems in dogs often indicate an allergic reaction to food or environmental factors. Dogs suffering from allergies may experience flakiness and itchiness at various times of the year, and dandruff usually accompanies other symptoms, such as recurring ear and skin infections.

Hormonal Conditions

Health conditions such as Cushing's or hypothyroidism can impact your dog's skin health. In combination with skin conditions, a weakened immune system can increase your dog's vulnerability to secondary infections.

Idiopathic (Spontaneous) Seborrhea

If the reason behind your dog's dandruff cannot be determined, it might be labeled as 'idiopathic.' Although treating dry and scaly skin in dogs can work, the root cause might remain unknown. Your veterinarian can provide you with further guidance on how to handle your pet's situation.

Dandruff can be bothersome and uncomfortable for dogs, but it's generally not a major concern if it's mild or seasonal. However, if your furry friend displays dry, flaky skin along with other symptoms, it's best to take them 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

If you observe dandruff or other skin problems in your dog, it is crucial to seek advice from your veterinarian. Your vet's evaluation of your dog's symptoms and findings will determine the next steps. Further diagnostic tests may be necessary to confirm any underlying health issues, allergic reactions, or potential parasites.

How do you treat dandruff and get rid of it?

Fortunately, milder cases of dog dandruff can be remedied at home by following instructions and guidelines provided by your primary veterinarian, as well as utilizing the following helpful tips:

  • Groom your pet regularly to ensure their skin isn't overly oily and remove dead hair. Check with your vet before using grooming products on your dog.
  • Bathing your dog can help with dandruff outbreaks and bacterial and fungal skin infections. Your vet may prescribe a medicated shampoo for your dog; follow the instructions carefully. Don't over-bathe your dog, as this could make the dandruff worse!
  • 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.

When should you take your dog to a vet for dandruff?

If your dog's dandruff persists or worsens despite home remedies and grooming efforts, you should take it to a vet. Additionally, it's best to seek veterinary attention if your dog shows signs of discomfort, such as excessive scratching, redness, or skin inflammation.

Your vet can conduct a thorough examination, including skin scrapings or other tests if necessary, to determine the underlying cause of the dandruff and recommend appropriate treatment options.

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 furry friend suffers from dry, flaky skin and a lackluster coat, please get in touch with our veterinarians in Laguna Woods. We'd happily schedule an appointment to assess and resolve your pet's condition.

New Patients Welcome

Laguna Hills Animal Hospital is welcoming new patients! Our vets are friendly, experienced, and passionate about caring for the health of the cats and dogs in Laguna Woods. Contact us today to schedule your pet's first appointment.

Contact (949) 837-7333