Digging Deeper: What Causes Dandruff in Dogs?

October 5, 2023

Written By: Earth Buddy Team

White and brown pekingese sitting on a rock in Garden of Gods Park. Read this article to learn what causes dandruff in dogs.

As dog owners, we all want our furry friends to have a smooth, shiny coat. But sometimes pesky dandruff makes an unwelcome appearance, leaving us puzzled and concerned. To promote a healthy coat, you first need to understand what causes dandruff in dogs. Then, go from there to find out what actions you can take to get rid of it, along with which supplements could support skin health.

What is Dandruff in Dogs?

Yellow lab, black lab, and border collie biting at Earth Buddy Gut Health with colostrum for irritated skin in dogs.

Similar to humans, canines can also experience dandruff, which is characterized by the shedding of dead skin cells. These white flakes can be found on their fur and the surfaces they visit. If you take a look around their dog bed, you may notice what looks like a mess in and around it. In contrast to humans, where dandruff predominantly affects the scalp, dogs are more prone to these white flakes on their backs, particularly near their tail. Although these are the most common areas, you may also notice it in other portions of the body.

Your dog’s skin contains something called sebaceous glands, which are responsible for sebum production, an essential oil that helps maintain the normal moisture content of the skin. Overproduction of this oil can result in an imbalance that can affect a dog’s coat and skin.

What Causes Dandruff in Dogs

Dandruff in dogs can result from various factors and has the potential to affect any breed, whether they’re purebred or mixed dog breeds. But in certain instances, it may be caused by a genetic component. Dog breeds that are most prone to dandruff include:

  • Cocker Spaniels
  • West Highland White Terriers
  • Basset Hounds
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • Yorkshire Terriers

Even though there are genetic components in some dog breeds, dandruff can usually be attributed to environmental factors or some type of underlying cause. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to promote a glossy, healthy coat for your dog- and your family- to enjoy.

Humidity Level and Dog’s Dandruff

In the winter, especially if you live in a particularly cold area, you may have noticed your own dry skin. You may even notice you have more dandruff in the winter than you did in the summer. This is a common time for us, as humans, to lather up with lotion to promote our own skin health.

Similar to humans, dogs may also experience dry skin during the winter months, when atmospheric humidity is typically reduced. The utilization of forced-air heating systems can further intensify the situation. If the presence of dandruff in your dog is predominantly observed during the winter season, the humidity levels in your home and outdoors could be playing a factor.

As a side note, don’t forget to replace the filter in your furnace on a regular basis. It can become easily filled with dust, dirt, pet fur, and other debris. Most filters last about three months on average.

Possible Parasites Causing Dog’s Dandruff

Various parasites can be implicated in the development of a dog’s dandruff. Fleas, mites, and lice are among the most common external parasites that can infest the skin and hair follicles, leading to the white flakes, known as dandruff, being found throughout your dog’s fur.

These parasites may cause a dog’s skin to shed more cells than usual, which appear as flakes on the animal’s coat. Additionally, the scratching and biting due to occasional discomfort can make matters worse. It is imperative for pet owners to be vigilant, seek veterinary advice promptly if a parasitic infestation is suspected, and ask if medicated shampoo is necessary or advised.

Walking dandruff in dogs refers to a skin condition caused by a specific type of mite, known as Cheyletiella. These mites live on the skin’s surface and feed on skin debris, which is why it’s called walking dandruff. It’s important to consult with a veterinarian if you suspect your dog has walking dandruff, as they can recommend the most appropriate plan to handle the parasite.

How to Promote a Healthy Coat in Dogs

Bathing can be an effective strategy for maintaining low levels of a dog’s dandruff by removing accumulated dead dry skin cells and maintaining coat cleanliness. The use of appropriate shampoos, preferably those containing natural, organic ingredients and essential fatty acids for a healthy coat, may help animals achieve a soft, silky, shiny, and healthy coat. However, it is paramount to avoid excessive bathing, as it could bring an imbalance to your dog’s skin. If you aren’t sure how much to bathe your dog, make a call to your veterinarian to ask. Some breeds can be bathed more than others.

Additional actions that can promote skin health in dogs include:

Brush Your Dog Properly To Maintain Coat Health

Utilizing extended, sweeping strokes in alignment with the direction of a dog’s coat is essential for not only removing dirt and debris, which can cause the coat to appear dull, but also for stimulating the oil glands located in the skin’s top layer. This brushing technique releases beneficial oils, adding luster and shine to coats.

It is advisable to use one hand to maneuver the brush and, following each stroke, employ a comb to remove the dead, dry skin and flakes from the brush. This method prevents the redistribution of dirt into the coat. Finish the grooming process with a brush with coarser bristles, then transition to a softer finishing brush, followed by a cloth or rub rag.

This sounds like a lengthy process, but it takes less time than you would imagine. Gradually diminishing the bristle size ensures the removal of progressively finer particles of dirt. By the final stage, employing a rub rag (like a piece from an old cotton shirt) can eliminate dust that has accumulated on the fur’s surface and promote the release of sebum from the oil glands. Not only does this process promote a healthy coat, but it also supports normal circulatory function, which supports coat health.

Adding a Humidifier For Skin Irritation

Installing a humidifier promotes a healthy coat and skin. The additional moisture in the air helps combat the dry conditions that could be playing a factor. Especially during the winter months, when heating systems tend to dry out indoor air, a humidifier can support a dog’s coat health. This approach supports not only the health of your dog’s skin and coat but also helps maintain the general health of all ages and breeds.

A Balanced Diet For Pet’s Skin

A scientifically balanced formula rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes and

2 Siberian huskies in the yard with Earth Buddy Immunity mushrooms for dogs to help with dry, flaky skin.

essential fatty acids can promote healthy skin and good coat color. Ensuring your dog consumes high-quality, well-balanced dog food is paramount to assisting in the digestion and absorption of essential nutrients. Many animals can benefit from additional vitamins like A, D, and E, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Supplements to Add to Your Dog’s Regimen

Something as simple as adding the right supplements to your dog’s regimen could promote healthy skin and good coat color. Several supplements that are known to support a dog’s coat health include:

Omega 3 Fatty Acids For Dog’s Skin Health

Omega-3 fatty acids play a pivotal role in promoting healthier skin and maintaining a healthy coat. These essential fatty acids, prevalent in fish oil, whole fish, and hemp seeds, are known to decrease normal inflammatory pathways. They aid in adding luster and shine to dog’s coats by supporting cellular health and normal cell function.

Providing whole fish rather than fish oil is an option many pet parents choose due to being a more natural source of omega 3s. Fresh fish doesn’t contain the additives and preservatives that some fish oil supplements might have. However, it is essential for pet owners to choose the right type of fish, as some fish may contain high levels of heavy metals or toxins. Fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines are generally good choices.

Probiotics to Support Skin Health and Bacterial Issues

Most of your body’s immune system lives in the gut, which makes gut health a priority when looking to support skin and coat health and aid in promoting the body’s ability to handle bacterial issues. Probiotics support the immune system through several mechanisms. For example, they support the proper balance of normal intestinal flora. This balance is crucial for assisting in the digestion and absorption of essential nutrients and enhancing the immune response, both of which impact skin and coat health.

Probiotics, like S. boulardii, aid in reducing occasional loose stools due to environmental stress or changes in diet, which helps maintain a healthy intestinal tract. To add, they assist in the digestion and absorption of essential nutrients to help maintain physical and mental well-being. Plus, it may soothe skin-related issues associated with seasonal allergies

Brown bulldog licking Earth Buddy Gut Health with colostrum for dogs’ irritated skin.

Bovine Colostrum For Dog’s Skin Health and Environmental Allergies

Bovine colostrum, often referred to as “first milk,” is a rich source of nutrients that helps keep dogs in peak condition. Integrating this natural supplement into your dog’s diet regimen promotes the body’s innate resistance to pathogens and helps support normal detoxification processes. Bovine colostrum also assists the body in combating environmental pollutants. As an added bonus, the nutrients derived from colostrum have been shown to help support the growth of muscle,skin, collagen, bone, cartilage, and nerve tissue.

Earth Buddy’s Gut Health product combines bovine colostrum and full spectrum hemp extract to support and promote long term health. The product contains 6mg of CBD, cannabinoids, and terpenes per scoop along with 1,460mg of colostrum per scoop with 14% immunoglobulins. The colostrum is sourced from Canadian cows that have been grass-fed without any bacterial medications or growth hormones. To make it easier to provide to dogs, blueberry powder is also added to the mix.

Functional Mushrooms For Dogs

Functional mushrooms promote a healthy coat by providing antioxidant support and vitamin and mineral support for healthy pets. Most species of functional mushrooms contain polysaccharides, beta-glucans, and other bioactive compounds that can support the immune system, support a healthy inflammatory response, and support normal bodily functions.

These mushrooms may help protect body cells and tissues and help maintain normal moisture content of skin. Furthermore, by supporting a normal inflammatory response, medicinal mushrooms maintain a normal inflammatory cytokine cascade. The chemical compounds found in functional mushrooms also have a prebiotic like effect in the gut. Through this action, functional mushrooms for dogs can maintain the health of the skin and coat and may help with occasional or seasonal allergies.

New Earth Buddy functional mushrooms for dogs in front of reishi mushrooms to support bacterial and fungal irritations.

Earth Buddy offers a tincture that contains functional mushrooms to support the immune system and provide support for animals with sensitive skin. Earth Buddy’s mushroom products contain both the fruiting body and mycelium; both of which are essential components of functional mushrooms. Products are sourced in the United States as well, which means you can rest easy knowing that your pet is not receiving anything sourced overseas. The products are tested for purity, and the results can be found here.

Coconut Oil For Dry Skin in Dogs

Coconut oil, derived from the meat of coconuts, has garnered attention for its potential to help dogs with dandruff. It is enriched with saturated fatty acids, particularly lauric acid, which promotes the body’s innate resistance to pathogens and supports pets with seasonal allergies.

When applied topically or incorporated into a dog’s diet, coconut oil can help maintain normal moisture content of skin and supports a healthy inflammatory response. These benefits contribute to a glossy, healthy coat.

Full Spectrum CBD and The Endocannabinoid System in Dogs

Full spectrum hemp extract helps achieve a soft, silky, shiny and healthy coat. It engages with CB2 receptors within the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), which works with all other organ systems in the body. Activating these receptors enables CBD to address occasional discomfort by helping keep dogs in peak condition. Also, full spectrum hemp extract may help with occasional or seasonal allergies.

Earth Buddy’s full spectrum hemp extracts are combined with coconut oil to support and promote long-term health. The extract is derived from organic hemp grown on a small farm in Colorado. The extract is produced in small batches to maintain a quality product, and all hemp is dried indoors to prevent mold and mildew from developing. Third party lab results are also available with this product, as with all other Earth Buddy products.

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