Dry Skin and Dandruff on Dogs

photo of dog on white background

Overview

  • Dogs like to keep themselves clean, so if you notice your dog has dandruff (dry, flaky skin) it could be a sign of a problem.
  • There are many possible causes for dry skin and dandruff, fortunately most aren’t serious and improve with treatment.
  • Contact your vet for a non-urgent appointment if you notice your dog has dandruff.

General information and causes

Skin cells are continuously dying, shedding off and being replaced by new, healthy ones. Your dog will usually make sure their fur stays clean and ‘dandruff-free’ by grooming themselves. A small amount of dandruff can be normal, but a large amount might indicate that your dog isn’t able to groom themselves properly, or that they have a skin problem.

Lack of grooming - if your dog is developing dandruff because they can’t groom themselves properly, they may be suffering from:

Skin problems - dandruff and dry skin can be caused by many different skin problems including:

When to contact your vet

Contact your vet for a non-urgent appointment if you notice your dog has dandruff - it’s important to have them checked so your vet can find the cause and give him/her an appropriate treatment. Tell your vet about any other symptoms you have noticed, such as:

Treatment and home remedies

The best treatment for your dog depends on what is causing their dandruff. It’s always best to have them checked by your vet before trying home remedies. If your vet is happy your dog is otherwise healthy, they may recommend some of the following home remedies for their dry skin:

  • Food - the right diet can make a big difference to your dog’s skin and coat. Read more about what to feed your dog.
  • Shampoo - there are certain pet-specific shampoos that can help to improve dandruff. However, it but it’s best to stick to water until your vet advises a specific product, using the wrong shampoo could make the problem worse.
  • Skin supplements - pet skin supplements often contain ingredients such as fish oil that can help improve dry, flaky skin.
  • Creams and lotions - if your dog has a small area of dry skin, for example on their nose or an elbow, you could try using a small amount of a pet safe moisturiser (for example Vaseline) to keep the area moist and prevent it cracking. Speak to your vet if you aren’t sure which product to use.
Published: Aug 2020

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Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only.

Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst