Dog Dandruff Causes, Pictures, Treatments, and Home Remedies

Dog Dandruff

Otherwise referred to as Seborrhea, dog dandruff is characterized by dry (and sometimes oily), flaky skin but in more serious cases, it may as well cause hair loss. It is usually caused by factors such as very frequent bathing and climate but also signals an underlying medical condition. On a good note, however, you can easily clear doggie dandruff at home using simple remedies. Read on to find out more.

Dog Dandruff Symptoms and Causes

Just like humans, dogs are susceptible to dandruff. Dandruff is comprised of dead skin cells that have fallen off the skin. When they stick together, they look like tiny white flakes on dog’s fur or skin.

Dandruff may also be accompanied by other symptoms such as bumps or scabs in the skin, and hair loss. Hair loss is very often a sign of canine Cushing’s disease.

Dog Dandruff
Dog with dandruff

Another important point to note is that although dandruff is usually attributed to dry skin, it may also cause oily skin. Certain breeds of dogs are prone to each of these two forms as detailed below:

Oily dandruff: Prone breeds of dogs include Cocker Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, English Springer Spaniels, Sharp-Peis, Basset Hounds, and West Highland white terrier.

Dry dandruff: Prone breeds include German Shepherds, Dobermans, Irish Setters, and Dachshunds.

Dog Dandruff Causes

It is important to know the underlying cause of doggie dandruff to be able to control the flaking and associated symptoms. Below is a breakdown of some of the most common dog dandruff causes:

Poor Bathing and Grooming Routine

Momentary bathing and grooming is an important dog care routine. Brushing your dog’s skin is also important as helps to get rid of dead skin cells and other pet dander and also stimulate the production of skin oils. This is especially important in dogs that have long or thick hair.

Bathing and grooming your dog too often may, however, do more harm than good, triggering the formation of dry skin that is accompanied by dandruff.

It is also important that you use gentle shampoos as harsh shampoos (and human shampoos when used on dogs) could be the underlying factor for canine dandruff. Switching to a new brand of dog shampoo may be helpful.

Keep in mind also that using human shampoos on dogs could also cause dog dandruff and other problems such as dog dry skin.

Dry Weather

Very dry environments can cause or exacerbate canine dandruff as the dry air around your home strip your dog’s skin of its moisture. This tends to be more of a problem in winter months which are characterized by low humidity which coupled with the use of heating systems create a particularly dry living environment.

If you suspect dry air to be the culprit or if your dog’s dry skin tends to occur more or get worse during winter, consider investing in a humidifier to increase humidity levels.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Your dog’s diet goes a long way in ensuring optimal health not only internally but externally. Nutritional deficiency may result in dry skin that culminates in dandruff.

Fatty acid deficiency is the most common nutritional trigger of canine dandruff with omega-3 deficiency being the most common culprit. This essential fatty acid is known to be necessary for healthy skin in dogs and other pets but the processing process involved in preparing commercial foods usually causes it to become inactive. A great source of omega-3 is fish oil and cod liver oil.


Bacterial and fungal infections are another likely cause of doggie dandruff although they are not as much a common trigger. Impetigo tends to affect puppies more and is a common trigger for puppy dandruff. This is a contagious bacterial infection that causes pus-field blisters that then break and crust over.

Treatment of infections involves using the appropriate medications at your vet’s office or facility. This will vary depending on the underlying condition.

For impetigo, for example, antibiotics may be prescribed among other medications such as topical hydrogen peroxide, chlorhexidine, or benzoyl peroxide to control the symptoms. Shampoos containing benzoyl peroxide may also be used to control the condition.


Exposure to allergens and irritants can as well cause dandruff in dogs. This may happen when your dog gets exposed to pollen, certain foods, household cleaners and chemicals, etc. resulting in a topical reaction.

Other causes and factors for dog dandruff are:

  • Insufficient exercise
  • Dog Cushing’s Disease
  • Thyroid conditions and hypothyroidism

Walking Dandruff in Dogs – Cheyletiellosis in Dogs

Cheyletiellosis is a contagious dog skin disease that results from an infestation with Cheyletiella mites. You may hear some people refer to the condition as cheyletiellosis mange. It tends to affect puppies more even although it can also affect adult dogs.

walking dandruff in dogs

Cheyletiellosis is zoonotic which essentially mean that it can be transmitted between dogs and over to cats, humans etc. and vice versa.

The term “walking dandruff” is commonly used to describe cheyletiellosis because when observing carefully, the white flakes on the skin seem to move about. This is the result of the movement of the mites beneath the flakes and not the flakes really walk about by themselves (of course dead skin cells cannot walk around).

In addition to lots of white flakes on the dog’s fur and skin, cheyletiellosis is associated with symptoms such as a red bumpy rash on the skin and sometimes itching (scratching). Flaking typically appears more on the back and neck but any other part of the body may be affected.

Dog Dandruff and Hair Loss

Dog dandruff is typically characterized by white flakes in the skin and fur but it is also possible for it to be accompanied by hair loss.

Hair loss results in thinning hair and balding patches in the fur and is often indicative of a more severe problem or condition.

Although most cases of dog hair loss due to dandruff will clear with the treatment options highlighted below, it is advisable to get the attention of your vet just to rule out a serious medical condition.

Dog Dandruff Treatment – How to Get Rid Of Doggie Dandruff

Now, what can you do for dog dandruff? Well, choosing the best dog dander treatment option hinges upon identifying the underlying factor for the condition. Here are some of the common treatment options:

Proper grooming for Dog dandruff treatment

Adequate bathing and brushing are essential for healthy dog skin and fur. An all-inclusive grooming regime is not only an effective dog dander control measure but will also stimulate oil production and give your dog a lustrous, healthy-looking skin.

Take care though not to overdo things as that may be counterproductive. The frequency of grooming need varies from one dog breed to another. A grooming specialist or your vet may help you decide on the frequency.

An equally important factor is the choice of grooming products. Ensure that the shampoo you use is dog shampoo, not human shampoo. Switching from one brand to another may also help to eliminate the dandruff problem.

There are medicated dandruff shampoos as well nowadays. These vary from those with sulfur, salicylic acid, and iodine to those containing selenium sulfide, coal tar, and benzoyl peroxide.

Now the choice for the right type of dandruff shampoo will depend on the nature of dandruff as outlined in the first section of this article. A dog with dandruff that is accompanied by dry skin should be bathed with a shampoo containing either sulfur, salicylic acid, or iodine.

As for those with an oily skin type of dandruff, dandruff shampoo products containing either coal tar, selenium sulfide, or benzoyl peroxide.

There are of course many products on the market today that are designed for use on both oily and dry skin. Nature’s Specialties shampoos are one good example. And for more of a neutral and chemical free option, consider preparing your own natural shampoo.

Moisture Restoration for Treatment of Dog Dandruff

Low humidity in the house and the environment constitutes one of the top 3 causes of dog dandruff with the other two being poor grooming and poor diet (nutritional deficiency).

If you live in a dry climate area, getting yourself a humidifier could be the answer to your dog’s woes. A humidifier works by circulating moisture in your house and is especially helpful in winter months when the humidity level is typically at its lowest.

Dietary Intervention for Dog Dander Treatment

Proper diet is an equally important factor in as fat as dog dandruff prevention and control is concerned. Start by ensuring that your dog food is AAFCO certified, otherwise switch to a brand that is certified. That way you will know that the food has the right balance of vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.

You may also want to supplement your dog with zinc and vitamins A and E should be your first consideration. Zinc, on one hand, help to boost the immune system which in turn helps to control allergies, one of the causes of dry skin and dandruff. Vitamin A and E on the other hand help to improve the overall health of the dog’s skin.

Fish oil is also a great intervention strategy as it is rich in fatty acids. In as far as fish oil products are concerned, go for those that contain the ingredients Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Dihydroxyacetone (DHA). These are omega fatty acids which are essential for optimum skin health.

Another great dietary treatment measure is to ensure that your dog takes an adequate amount of water every day. If you think your dog doesn’t seem to like drinking water, consider adding it to their food. Having a water fountain near your dog can also help as the sound of water splashing has been shown to have a positive effect and give an urge to drink water.

Cheyletiellosis Dog Dandruff Treatment

Cheyletiellosis (walking dandruff) treatment involves the use of pyrethrin shampoos or sprays over the course of 3-4 weeks.

Lime sulfur dips may also help to get rid of cheyletiellosis mites and dandruff when used consistently once a week over a period of 6-8 weeks.

Topical application of flea control medicines such as Frontline, Revolution, and Advantage may also help. Two applications at intervals of one month are recommended.

Lastly, your vet may recommend Ivermectin. Usually given orally or injected subcutaneously, Ivermectin one in a week or a couple week for at least two months. It is however toxic and not recommended for use in herding breeds of dogs the likes of collies, sheepdogs, and Shetland among others.

Because cheyletiellosis is very contagious, all pets in the household should be treated and not just the dogs. It is also important to conduct an all-around treatment of the home environment.

You will, in particular, want to wash all bedding in hot water and vacuum all carpets and furniture to prevent re-infestation. Spraying the house with a residual insecticide product formulated for flea control once every two weeks may also help.

Treatment of underlying Medical conditions

Effective treatment of dandruff that is attributed to medical conditions will vary depending on the underlying medical cause. Your veterinarian will determine the best course of action accordingly. For infections, antibiotics may be prescribed among other medications.

Dog Dandruff Home Remedy Solutions

Mild cases of dog dandruff can be treated effectively using more gentle and natural home remedies. Below are some of the home remedy solutions you may want to try at home:

Apple Cider Vinegar for Dog Dandruff

Apple cider vinegar is one of the best dog dandruff home solutions. It helps to not only control dandruff but also itching. And the great smell is an added benefit. Here is how to get rid of dog dander at home with apple cider vinegar:

  1. Take ½ cup of apple cider vinegar and fill the other half of the cup with water.
  2. Rub the solution onto your dog’s skin and fur with using a cotton ball or soft piece of cloth. Leave it to dry into the skin.
  3. Repeat the process once daily until you have achieved the desired results. Normally, this remedy dandruff in just a few days.

Olive Oil Remedy for Dog Dander

Olive oil also ranks among the best dog dandruff remedies. Using olive oil for the elimination of dandruff in canines is as easy as rubbing some olive oil on their skin and hair once each day until you have achieved the desired results. It is, of course, a bit messy but it will do wonders for your pooch’s skin.

Oatmeal Home Remedy for Dog Dandruff

Oatmeal bath is yet another fast cure for dog dander and itching. It does a great job in restoring the dog skin’s natural oils which in turn restore skin balance and eliminate dandruff. Given the effectiveness of oatmeal as a natural remedy for dog dandruff, it is not surprising that it has found its way into many dog shampoo products available on the market.

Flaxseed Oil Supplements as Dog Dandruff Remedy

Flaxseed also does a great job for dogs with dandruff and itchy skin as it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. All you have to do is to add some flaxseed oil supplements to your dog’s food. You will notice a significant improvement in your dog’s skin and coat shine within a short period of use. What a better way to cure dog dandruff naturally.

Coconut Oil Dog Dander Remedy

Coconut Oil

Although not as much a common home ingredient compared to other oils such as olive oil, coconut oil is widely available in most supermarkets and health food stores.

Here is how to use coconut oil to eliminate canine dandruff:

  1. To a bowl of warm water, add 10 drops or so of coconut oil.
  2. Apply the mixture to your dog’s coat and leave it on for 5 minutes.
  3. Rinse it off with clean water and then finish off by shampooing your dog.
  4. Repeat this process once a week until you achieve the desired results.

Fenugreek Seeds as Pooch Dander Solution

Fenugreek also helps to relieve your dog of dandruff and the associated symptoms such as itching and dry skin. To use fenugreek seeds for this purpose soak 2-3 cups of the seeds overnight and then mix them with enough water to make a fine paste the next morning. Slather the paste all over your dog’s skin and leave it on for one hour before cleaning it off with cool water.

Lime Remedy for Dandruff in Dogs

Lime is also beneficial to dandruff and works particularly well when used to rinse your pooch’s coat and skin after shampooing it. In addition to helping fight off dandruff flakes, lime juice also leaves the skin glossy and healthy-looking, not to mention that its potency in curbing skin infections.

Beets Home Solution for Dog Dandruff

Beets is also very effective in curbing dandruff in puppies and adults alike. To use them for the purpose, bring beet plants (that is the roots and the top parts) to a boil in water. Allow the resulting solution time to cool down and then use it to wash your dog’s skin and hair.

More Tips to Cure Dog Dandruff Naturally

  • Exercise your dog or puppy regularly: Walking your dog often will help to boost its immune system which will, in turn, help your dog’s body better able to fight off and prevent the formation of dandruff.
  • Watch your dog’s weight as excessive or below par weight can depress your pooch’s immune system and make it susceptible to a whole lot of health conditions, including dandruff.
  • Add some vitamin E to your dog’s bath or shampoo. You may as well consider applying some vitamin E directly to your dog’s skin.