Treating Your Dog's Dandruff and Dry Skin Naturally

Dog dandruff and dry skin are such common conditions that many pet owners tend to ignore them and consider them to be harmless. Dandruff is caused by an accumulation of dead skin cells. The cells stick together to make the telltale white flakes of dandruff. Other symptoms that might be present include hair loss, intense itching, and bumps, open sores, or scabs where your pet might be chewing.

Much like other “common” pet conditions, dandruff, dry skin, and the itching that frequently comes with it are not always minor and can sometimes indicate an underlying condition. The trick to managing dandruff and dry skin lies in determining the cause before choosing a treatment.

Why Does My Dog Have Dandruff and Dry Skin?

Treating dandruff and dry skin in dogs is not as simple as finding a treatment and using it. Some treatments can soothe your pet’s skin and make them feel better, but they will not make the problem itself go away. The only way to do that is to figure out what is causing the problem. Once you have determined a cause, you can adjust your dog’s environment or take your furry buddy for a vet consult to cure the problem.

Allergies

Pollens, foods, chemicals, and a wide array of other substances can cause allergies for your dog. One of the most common signs of allergies in dogs is skin problems, including dandruff and itchy, irritated dry skin.

Infections and Parasites

Fungal infections such as yeast infections tend to mimic allergies and cause itchy, dry, flaky skin. Bacterial infections such as impetigo can also cause skin troubles. The mites that cause mange are well known for causing hair loss, dandruff, and dry skin.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Many dog foods lack important nutrients your dog needs to maintain good health. These nutritional deficiencies typically show up in the skin first as dandruff and dry skin. A common deficiency that causes dandruff is low omega 3 fatty acids. The high heat used when processing dog food can strip fatty acids of their benefits. Purchase good quality food to ensure that the right balance of omega 3's is there.

Bathing and Grooming

Bathing and grooming are essential to skin health for dogs. However, bathing your dog too often will strip their coat of natural oils and cause dandruff and dry skin. Using shampoos meant for humans will do the same. Always use mild, vet-approved products for bathing your dog. Brushing your dog regularly can prevent a buildup of dry skin cells that are responsible for dandruff.

Dry Weather

Harsh environments are tough on skin. Dry air can strip your dog’s skin of moisture. This is especially true of areas having cold, dry winters. The combination of low humidity and heat running constantly can wreak havoc on your dog’s skin.

Treating Dandruff and Dry Skin

Treating dandruff really hinges on knowing what causes it. A bit of detective work may be necessary. If symptoms are severe and your dog has raw spots, rashes, or excessive itching, make an appointment with a vet. Your dog's caregiver will check for allergies, parasites, fungal infections, and other possible underlying conditions.

If symptoms are mild or you have a clean bill of health from the vet, it is time to look at the food you feed your best buddy, how often you bathe them, and what time of year it is. Sometimes treating dandruff is as simple as changing something in your dog’s environment.

To help your dog recover from stubborn dandruff, consider trying some of the following natural treatments:

Omega 3 Fatty Acid Supplement

A common nutritional issue for dogs is not getting enough omega 3’s. Adding a bit of fish oil to your dog’s meals may be all you need to eliminate dry skin and dandruff. You can purchase oil capsules from nearly any grocery or drug store and many pet stores have it on their shelves.

Vitamin E

This vitamin is a great treatment for skin problems and can be used both internally and externally. Rubbing vitamin E oil directly on the skin can help to soothe any irritation as well as moisturize your dog’s skin. If you provide your pooch with a high-quality diet that contains salmon, eggs, avocado, spinach, or safflower oil, these foods are high in Vitamin E and extra supplementation should not be needed.

Probiotics

Feed your dog yogurt or kefir, or buy probiotics in the form of a supplement. This can help to keep yeast infections at bay and can help to boost the immune system.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar helps to control dandruff and soothe itching. Simply mix apple cider vinegar 50/50 with water and apply directly to the skin. There is no need to rinse, just let it dry into the skin. Don't overdo it though, because it can have the opposite effect.

Coconut Oil

Helps to soothe itchy, dry skin. Simply apply it directly to your dog’s skin, or make a treatment of 10 drops of oil to a bowl of warm water. If your dog has pancreatitis, avoid giving them coconut oil orally.

Oatmeal Bath

Oatmeal is a well-known treatment for a wide range of skin conditions. It will help to balance skin oils and eliminate dandruff. You can find oatmeal soaps in your local pet store. You can also prepare an oatmeal bath to alleviate the itch your dog is experiencing.

Grooming

Excessive bathing and using the wrong bathing products can cause dry skin and dandruff, so limit how much your dog gets a bath and use only mild soaps intended for dogs. Brushing, on the other hand, can be a daily habit that helps to remove dandruff and stimulate the skin to release its own natural oils. Wash your pet’s bedding frequently as well.

Humidifier

Put a humidifier in the room where your dog sleeps. The extra moisture in the air may improve the skin problem. In cold climates, this is especially helpful during the winter months. 

Always Consult the Vet if Needed

There are many natural remedies that can help relieve dog dandruff and dry skin, but not all of them will solve the problem. Your first step is to determine the cause of your dog’s skin condition. Severe cases of dry skin should be seen by a vet to determine if there is an underlying problem. Minor dandruff and dry skin can be remedied by simple changes in your pet’s diet or environment. If your dog is scratching a lot, a few of the above remedies may provide relief in the meantime.

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