Do Dogs Get Dandruff? Guide to Your Dog’s Dry, Flaky Skin

Do dogs get dandruff? Yes. Like humans, dogs can suffer from itching, dry, flaky skin. As a pet parent, you’re probably asking a few questions like why does my dog have dandruff? What do I do if my dog has dandruff? Or,  what does it mean if my dog has dry flaky skin and is losing hair? What does dog dandruff look like? This guide will help answer these questions and more about pet dandruff causes, signs, and treatments.

What is Dog Dandruff?

Dandruff, whether it is human or canine, is dead skin cells that flake off. Depending on your dog’s coat, it may be difficult to see the small white flakes until they are on your furniture or your lap. The presence of dandruff may indicate something is amiss with your pet’s wellbeing. To better understand how to address this condition you must know its underlying cause.

What Causes Dandruff in Dogs

Before we can discuss how to treat dandruff in dogs, we must explain dog dandruff causes. A variety of things can trigger this irritating skin condition. While dog dandruff can be an indicator of an underlying condition, most of the reasons behind dog dandruff are fairly common. 


If your dog seems to have dandruff during particular times of the year, your dog may have food or environmental allergies. In addition to causing skin problems, allergies may result in other symptoms like chronic ear infections or constant licking of their paws.

Dry air

Dry air can affect a dog’s skin. If you notice your dog has dandruff during the winter months, low humidity could be the culprit.

Cheyletiella mites and other parasites

Seeing flakes on your dog? Look close, because those white flakes may be Cheyletiella mites which cause walking dandruff (a parasitic infection) in dogs. These external parasites are large enough to see with the naked eye. If your dog is scratching, licking, or biting his skin, or you notice redness, scaly patches, or hair loss, it’s time for a vet visit because walking dandruff is highly contagious. So, if your pet is infected you’ll need to take him along with any other household pets for treatment. You may also need to treat your home or pet area with an appropriate pesticide. 



Some breeds inherit a genetic disorder like ichthyosis which affects breeds including golden retrievers, Yorkshire terriers, and Cavalier King Charles spaniels, or primary seborrhea often seen in cocker spaniels and basset hounds.

Underactive thyroid condition

Hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid glands) can affect skin health, and your veterinarian can rule this out with a blood test.

Poor diet

Lack of proper nutrition can lead to dog dandruff and hair loss. A high-quality, balanced diet that includes omega 3s and omega-6s, can help keep his skin and coat healthy. Before changing or adding to your pet’s diet consult with your vet first.

Skin infections

Bacterial and fungal infections may be the culprit behind your dog’s dandruff. Regardless of which came first, dandruff or the infection, your pet needs appropriate treatment to restore his skin to a healthy condition.

Now that you know the causes of dog dandruff and what it looks like you’re ready to learn how to stop dog dandruff.

What Can I Do If My Dog Has Dry Skin And Dandruff?

Asking how to get rid of dog dandruff? The severity and cause of your dog’s dandruff will determine the correct dog dandruff remedy.

  • If seasonal allergies are to blame, your pet’s dandruff should resolve itself once seasons change. 
  • Dog dandruff caused by dry air in the home could benefit from a humidifier during the colder months or if you live in an arid climate.
  • Regular brushing with the correct dog grooming tools can reduce dog shedding and dandruff by removing loose hair and distributing the skin’s natural oils throughout your pet’s coat.
  • Bathing with a soothing oatmeal dog wash or medicated dandruff shampoo for dogs can help for seborrhea or bacterial and fungal infections. Follow the bottle directions to ensure you don’t make your dog’s skin worse. Rinse your pet thoroughly to avoid further irritation from the shampoo. 
  • Follow a balanced diet that meets your pet’s needs. Speak with your vet about what would be best for your dog’s breed, age, and level of activity. 
  • Adding supplements to your pet’s diet may prove to be an effective dog dandruff treatment if your pet isn’t getting proper nutrients. Talk to your vet about supplements for your dog’s skin health.
  • Appropriate treatments and medications can address underlying conditions like hypothyroidism.

When to Call the Vet About Dry Skin

You should schedule an appointment with your vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment if you have concerns about your dog’s skin or he’s experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • An excessive amount of dandruff
  • Hair loss
  • An odor to the skin
  • Red, irritated skin
  • Other signs of discomfort or illness
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