Tony Reeves

Medically Reviewed By

Piet Hellemans, DVM
Veterinarian & Veterinary Consultant

In a nutshell:

Dog dandruff is just as troubling as human dandruff. Some of the causes might differ but home care and additional trips to the vet will go a long way in ensuring your dog’s skin isn’t flaky. Regular grooming baths and fatty acid supplements to the diet are all tips that improve skin health immensely and keep dandruff at bay.

Let’s talk about dog dandruff

If you have noticed unusual dry white flaky skin on your favorite pup’s skin and this condition persists for a while, your dog may actually have dandruff.

If the flaky skin is not persistent then there is nothing to worry about. However, If you start noticing these white flakes on your dog’s bed or around the house, then it may be time for you to see a veterinarian.

Facts about dog dandruff

The mere fact that dog dandruff is not something that a lot of people are aware of, makes the issue even harder to treat. Pet dandruff is similar to the one humans get. The only significant difference is the cause.

By definition, dandruff is dead skin cells. When these cells remain on a dog’s coat and skin for too long, it becomes irritable. Spotting of this dandruff depends on the color of your dog’s skin and coat, making it a bit tricky for some owners.

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Another tricky aspect of this is where you notice your dog’s dandruff. Do you notice dandruff at one spot or all over the skin and coat of your pup? If it is just at one spot then it might just be temporary skin irritation. Once you identify that it surely is dog dandruff then quickly contact your veterinarian for advice.

What causes dandruff on dogs?

Since dying cells are always being replaced by new healthy ones, dogs found a way of getting rid of this flaky skin by grooming. Dandruff persistence tends to highlight an underlying issue that could range from:

  • Skin infections
  • Lack of grooming
  • A skin Malady

So what are some of the chronic causes of dog dandruff? Here are a few:

Genetic Conditions

Genetic conditions are considered unlucky to the creatures they affect, and it is not any different for dogs.


Seborrhea is a medical condition that happens when baby skin cells are thrust to the dog’s skin surface before their due time. Since the cells haven’t fully developed the glue-like substance that is supposed to hold them in place is weak. This causes these young skin cells to become flaky easily causing dandruff.

In dogs, this condition may also be accompanied by a greasy coat as the glands try and compensate for skin cells being flaky. What causes Seborrhea’s is still unknown to date but the fact that it affects a particular breed point to genetics.

The dog breeds most affected by Seborrhea are:

  • West Highland White Terrier
  • American Cocker Spaniel
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • English Springer Spaniel

Walking dandruff

Walking dandruff is a term used to refer to the Cheyletiella Mites and is different from regular dandruff. These external parasites are big enough to be seen by the eyes and appear like white skin flakes, hence the name walking dandruff. The mites make themselves at home on the dog’s skin, feeding off of it and even laying eggs on it. This results in the dog having itchy skin and being generally uncomfortable.

Diet Problems

Your dog’s skin requires specific nutrients to keep it healthy. Since most of these nutrients are gotten from the dog’s diet, an improper one might be the cause of dandruff if your dog isn’t getting the right nutrients.

A dog’s diet should be high in omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids that play a vital role in coat and skin health and preventing dandruff or any dry skin patches. Any diet adjustments, however, should be on your vet’s advice as you might end up causing more damage than harm to the skin.

A dog’s skin infection

Bacteria and fungi are the main causes of skin infections. These infections reduce the skin’s protective measures making it susceptible to other dangers such as dandruff. It doesn’t matter whether the coat infection or dandruff came first, the right treatments are required to take your dog’s skin back to a healthy state from its flaky one.

Underlying health conditions

Other than genetic conditions, hormones also play a big role in your dog’s skin health. Hypothyroidism which is when the thyroid glands are less active causes a significant change in the skin health of a dog.

Other common culprits include an auto-immune disease called pemphigus and a condition called Cushing’s disease that might cause the skin to flake. These also result in the weakening of the immune system, opening the dog up to further infections.

How do you get rid of dandruff on a dog?

Now that we have looked at what causes dandruff, let’s look at ways of getting rid of them. Most of these will be direct remedies to the causes which makes tracking much easier. Depending on the severity of dandruff, treatment can be done right at home or by visiting a vet.

Here are a couple of home remedies:


Consistent grooming is the most assured way of maintaining skin health and managing dandruff for dogs. One way of doing this is brushing your dog. This goes a long way to ensure that excess skin oils are spread throughout the coat and that dead cells and hair are removed. For general maintenance, brushing once a week is advised. When going through a dandruff outbreak it is advised to brush your dog daily.


David is our expert for all things concerning CBD and your four-legged friends. Animals often need special attention and care and that's David’s specialty, but he’s also an expert in all CBD topics, so whatever your question, he's happy to help.

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