Why Does My Dog Have Dandruff? 


This Holidays4Dogs article looks at some of the most common causes of dandruff in dogs. In addition, we provide some hints and tips on how to combat dandruff on your pooch.

Dandruff, or dry loose skin, is a common problem in many domesticated dogs. There can be many reasons why this happens, but it is often associated with mild dehydration.

With many pet dogs being fed processed foods – many of them in dried kibble form – the skin is often the first indication the dog is not taking in enough fluid.

West Highland White terriers and other white-coated breeds can be particularly prone to skin conditions. Dogs with excessive skin folds may also be more likely to suffer from mild to severe skin conditions, in particular, skin fold dermatitis.

Dandruff is usually not a cause for concern. However, for severe cases, it is a good idea to discuss your dog’s condition with your vet, to rule out other underlying health issues.

Common causes of dandruff in dogs.

  • Lack of essential fatty acids – Commercially prepared dog foods are often low in certain fatty acids, such as Omega 3’s, which are beneficial to a healthy dog. Because fatty acids are considered to be fragile in their consistency, they easily break down if they are over heated, or stored incorrectly.  However, the average pet diet is usually rich in Omega 6’s. This can be found in corn oil, olive oil, or safflower oil.  Therefore, supplementing any of these on top of your dog’s ordinary diet can actually cause skin problems due to the dietary imbalance. An excess of Omega 6 oils have the potential to be inflammatory.

  • Additives and preservativesAs well as a lack of certain nutrients, some processed pet foods contain additives and preservatives which can cause dandruff as well as dry, itchy skin.

  • AllergiesSome dogs are prone to allergic reactions which can affect the skin. Allergens can be from diet, or the environment including – pollen, or household cleaning materials, for example.

  • ParasitesFleas, mange, ringworm and mites can all cause itchy, dry skin as well as possible hair loss.

  • Lack of groomingWithout regular grooming, long haired dogs especially, will accumulate a lot of dead skin amongst the hair. This can build up and create dandruff.  Daily grooming for all dogs helps to distribute oils throughout the coat.

  • Low humidityCentrally heated, insulated homes, can strip the dog’s skin of moisture irritating the skin and causing the dog to scratch.

  • Underlying health conditionSome medical conditions related to the hormonal, or endocrine system can cause serious signs of skin flaking. Chronic skin flaking could indicate conditions such as hypothyroidism, or Cushing’s disease.

Natural Remedies for Dandruff. 

  • DietChanging to a more natural diet for your dog can frequently clear up dry skin and lacklustre coats. However, always change your dog’s diet gradually to ensure there are no upset tummies.

  • SupplementsAdding fatty acid supplements can help dog’s with skin conditions. You can buy proprietary products from any good pet shop. You can also try adding fish oils such as mackerel, or tuna, to your dog’s diet once a week. Beware of over supplementing with Omega 6’s.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar –This is a popular natural remedy for treating dandruff and protecting the skin from infection. Dilute apple cider vinegar with equivalent quantities of water. Apply to the dog’s skin with a sponge, or cotton wool pad.

  • Vitamin EEither in tablet form, or topical cream.

  • HumidifiersIf low humidity might be a problem in your home, consider installing a humidifier to add moisture to the air – especially where your dog sleeps.

  • GroomingBrush your dog daily to help distribute essential oils throughout the coat and invigorate the skin.

  • ExerciseMake sure your dog has enough exercise, as this will help strengthen his immune system.


dog ticks

Before treating your dog for dandruff, it is very important to rule out parasite, or skin infections. This is particularly important if the skin is red and inflamed. It is also important to rule out the possibility the dog might have an underlying medical condition, such as those outlined above.

N.B. This article is intended for information only and is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult your veterinary surgeon with all matters relating to your pet’s health.