Humans that have dandruff know that having a flurry of snowflakes coming from the scalp is a hardly an ideal legacy to level behind. Similarly, when your dog or cat not only sheds hair all over the furniture, but also leaves sprinkles of dandruff in his wake, it can be very unpleasant for the owner. Dandruff is not a disease, but rather a symptom that can either be caused by external factors (like repeated scratching or seborrhea) or internal factors (like diabetes or poor nutrition). A cat or dog may be struggling with dandruff due to inflamed skin, greasy or scaly skin, itchiness and unhealthy coat conditions. Whether your pet has sensitivity to certain shampoos or is just an incessant scratcher, find out what is causing the dander, and how you can get rid of it.

Causes for Dandruff in Dogs

  • Allergies: Dogs often respond poorly to shampoos with intense fragrances, or foods that are loaded with fillers and low-quality carbohydrates. Often this will cause allergic reactions and irritation to the skin, followed by an itchy rash that the dog will scratch often.
  • Low humidity/Dry Skin: In the winter months, over-heated buildings fill rooms with dry air that wages a battle against the natural moisture and oils on the skin’s surface. Where there are low humidity levels, an animal’s coat suffers.
  • Imbalanced diet:   Dogs often eat the same pet food brand or kibbles for years. If the food product is not balanced with vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients, it is likely that the pup will suffer from numerous health issues. These could be anything from dehydration, to lack of electrolytes, insufficient vitamins, supplements, or fats and oils.
  • Parasites: There may be plenty of dandruff on your dog’s coat if he has fleas or other parasites causing him to feel itchy. The dog (or cat) might also have demodex mites, or Cheletiellosis (or “walking dandruff”) where tiny mites appear like dead skin as they walk all over the dog’s coat. The best way to treat this is with a topical pesticide.
  • Behavioral issues: Some dogs have nervous habits or anxiety issues that cause them to itch or scratch their bodies frequently. Though the constant and hyperactive scratching eventually results in bald spots or sores, there will be plenty of dandruff in the beginning stages.
  • Skin infection/Bacteria: If the dog has broken skin (caused by either a wound, cut, or over-scratched area), it can easily become infected and itchy.

Highly Susceptible Dog Breeds

While every dog breed may suffer from scaly skin, those most likely to have dandruff are:

  • Schnauzers
  • West Highland Terrier
  • Scottish Terriers
  • Fox Terriers
  • Cairn Terriers
  • Pugs
  • Dalmatians
  • Setters (English and Irish)
  • Retrievers (Labrador and Golden)
  • Bulldogs (English, French, and American)
  • Pit bull Terriers

Causes of Dandruff in Cats

  • Parasites: Whether in the form of fleas, demodex mites, or Cheyletiellosis mites, the surface movement agitates the cat’s skin to be itchy. The infestation of parasites can be a cause of why the cat is showing signs of dandruff on their coat.
  • Grooming negligence: Cats typically groom themselves on a daily basis, constantly removing any excess grime from their fur. As the cat ages, this practice grows increasingly infrequent, causing them to neglect their coat, and allowing dandruff to build up over time. Likewise, when pet parents fail to bring their cats to the groomer regularly the dandruff will accumulate.
  • Diabetes: If a cat is diabetic, his body will have insulin deficiently, which can also cause dandruff.
  • Poor Diet: Like dogs, felines also require a balanced diet filled with nutrients, hydrating oils, and vitamins. Without a varied diet, the cat’s coat quality will appear dry, thin, and the skin will be flaky.
  • Contact Dermatitis: This skin allergy is caused by pollutants, toxins or detergents (such as heavily scented shampoos, soaps, chemicals, plants, herb oils, etc.). Once these products make contact with the skin, it can result in an itchy rash.
  • Ringworm: One further cause for the dandruff could be an infection of yeast in a circular shape with flaky skin. If your cat or dog is showing heavy and consistent signs of flaky sky and a dry coat, consult a vet for treatments and remedies.