Help! My Dog has Dandruff!

In my experience as a Dog Groomer, the cause of Doggy Dandruff is sometimes a really simple fix. Of course, there are situations where dandruff requires medical attention, but, you can certainly look into a few things before using any drastic measures – and don’t be mistaken, it is not normal, your dog should not have dandruff and it should be addressed in some way.

What is Doggy Dandruff?
Dandruff is characterized as little white flakes found on your dogs skin & coat. You can often see the flakes exacerbate in areas which are itched/scratched more frequently such as, around the collar, along their back and towards the base of the tail.

What causes Doggy Dandruff?
There are of course medical reasons which can cause dandruff, these need to be seen and diagnosed by a vet and include things like Seborrhea and Greasy Seborrhea as well as mites. But, there are also a bunch of other causes which are reasonably easy to fix or we can at least provide relief for whilst undergoing vet help.

  1. Failure to adequately rinse your pup.
    Believe it or not, this is very common. When you bathe your dog at home, you may be “winging it” with whatever utensils you have a home. Be that a bucket or a garden hose. In some cases this can make it quite hard to get the job done and you can end up not rinsing thoroughly enough. When shampoo sits on the skins surface, it makes it hard for the skin to breath (this is a totally non-technical explanation mind you) and shed as it should. This can make your pup itchy in an effort to get the shampoo off their skin.
    Solution: Give your pup another bath, massage the shampoo in really well and then rinse. When you think you’ve rinsed enough. Rinse again.
    This brings us to cause number 2.
  2. Improper Shampoo.
    That is, improper for your pup or improper for all pups. Either way, both are bad! Many shampoo companies fail to label their products and that’s simply because there is nothing that says they HAVE to. Pretty, terrible right?
    I always say, “If I don’t know what’s in it, I’m not using it.” If there’s no ingredients written on the back, you can’t confirm if your dog already has allergies to anything in the bottle and you can’t ensure it is safe to your standards. Just because it says “natural”, “organic” or “gentle”. Doesn’t mean that it is any of those things.
    Typically, poor ingredients cause a bit of itching and some dandruff which may subside after a few days or after they’ve been in the rain, beach or pool and had it rinsed off. But, terrible ingredients can cause dry skin. Dry skin is a common cause of skin conditions as it exposes the skin and makes it vulnerable to absorbing pathogens & toxins. Healthy skin creates a strong barrier for deflecting these irritants. If you’re washing your pup in shampoo that is causing dry skin, you could also be creating an environment for other more serious conditions.
    Solution: Switch to a hydrating shampoo with no nasty ingredients. Your dog will need the extra moisture to help re-build the skin barrier and if improper shampoo is the culprit, you should notice a difference after one wash and their skin should gradually improve with fortnightly or monthly washes. Speak to a pet professional if you’re unsure.
  3. Nutrient poor diet.
    The saying “you are what you eat” has never been more true. As we look into our bodies health, more and more research is leading back to that statement. Vitamin & nutrient deficiencies can lead to health issues, such as, poor skin and coat. Don’t under estimate your pups skin, it’s an essential organ!
    For example, Omega 3&6 fatty acids help to form a waterproof barrier, promote healthy skin growth and prevent dry skin.
    I’m not saying to go and add a bunch of these nutrients to your dogs diet. You should look at your dog’s diet as a whole. A vitamin supplement for skin health might be all your pup needs but more often than not, they will still require a total diet overhaul. Basically, don’t feed a poor diet and then add 16 other vitamins to their bowl in the hopes that their health will improve, because you can’t beat fresh food.
    Solution: Research your dogs food whether it’s dry food, wet food, raw food or left overs and see if you can find a link. If you’re not sure how, ask a knowledgeable pet professional. I say knowledgeable because not every Vet is well versed it pet nutrition.
    When in doubt, I always recommend Meals for Mutts dry food as a healthy conventional dog diet.
  4. Food allergy or intolerance or environmental allergy.
    There are heaps of symptoms associated with allergies and intolerances but if it’s been a part of your dogs life for long enough they generally start to develop quite a few from the list. If your dog is experiencing one or two of these symptoms simultaneously, they will most likely have an allergy and should be seen by a vet.
  1. Flakey skin
  2. Constant scratching
  3. Chewing or biting at certain areas
  4. Dry skin
  5. Hair loss
  6. Rashes
  7. Ear Infections (Otitis)
  8. Nausea
    And so on…

A vet can help you determine the cause and prescribe a treatment but the only way to avoid the symptoms for good is to avoid the allergen. That being said, If your pup has an allergy to grass, for example, there are things you can do to help lessen or soothe the symptoms but you may not be able to avoid grass altogether.
Solution: obviously, speak with a vet. However, I do think the solutions are sometimes excessive. Changing their diet, shampoo, adding a supplement and finding a groomer who can assist product wise are easy enough changes to begin your pups recovery. If none of these things work on their own, definitely, incorporate a medical treatment plan.

When using harsh vet prescribed washes and rinses, always follow up treatment with a high quality, moisture intense product to prevent dry skin. If the issue has healed and pup is left with dry skin, you may find the condition will come back.

Lydia – Organix Dog Spa

As you can see, some skin conditions are pretty easily fixed. The most difficult being an allergy. It’s important to understand you and your pup are not alone. There are options that you can do yourself and there are options that require some assistance, but, there ARE options.

At Organix Dog Spa, I look after a lot of dogs with skin conditions. The most common skin condition I alleviate is dandruff and itching. More often than not it is fixed with adding moisture and nutrients back into the skin. Be that by use of our Mud Treatments or Herbal Pastes, depending on the dog.

If your pup is suffering from a skin condition, send us a message on social media and see how we can help you.
You can also take a look through our Treatments here.

*This article is opinion based. As I am not a qualified veterinarian, I am not offering medical advice.