Dog Dandruff: Causes and Treatments

Dog Dandruff: Causes and Treatments

Need the lowdown on those white flakes in your pup’s coat? Read on for Finn’s best practices on how to solve your dog’s dandruff dilemma.

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Tired of those infamous skin flakes that creep up through your dog’s once luscious and clear coat? Finn’s got you covered on all things dog dandruff, like what causes it, how to prevent it, and most importantly, how to try and get rid of it. 

Even better, there are things that you can do in the comfort of your own home that can help alleviate your dog’s dandruff. We love convenience, especially when it benefits our pet, right?

What Does Dog Dandruff Look Like?

The scientific name for doggy dandruff is seborrheic dermatitis, and it occurs when flakes of dead skin cells fall out of place and either hang onto the hairs of your pet or fall off the head completely. You’ll notice tiny white flakes on your dog’s skin or anything that’s exposed to their skin and fur, like their bed, blankets, and crate. 

These tiny white flakes will typically pop up on your dog’s back and may look similar to that of human dandruff. 

What Causes Dog Dandruff?

There are various reasons why your dog might be experiencing dandruff. While some of these reasons raise red flags, others do not. Here are the common causes of dog dandruff — keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, and always consult your vet if you feel as though your pet is experiencing something out of the ordinary. 

Cold Weather

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Dry skin caused by cold weather is very common in dogs, regardless of age and breed. As the temperature outside drops, the snow starts to fall, and your heating system kicks on, the dry air can cause your dog’s skin to flake. This dry air can deprive your dog’s skin of essential moisture that’s needed to prevent this type of dandruff. 

Obesity and Nutritional Issues

A poor diet can certainly cause a dandruff dilemma in dogs. You need to set your dog up for success with a healthy and whole diet best suited for them according to their age, breed, and dietary preferences. 

An improper diet can cause your dog to miss out on nutrients they need to keep their skin and coat healthy. Certain omegas and minerals are crucial to a solid diet plan that supports that realm of their health. 



Your dog might be experiencing dandruff due to an allergy. If this is the case, you’ll want to consult your vet to run tests, so you know what kind of allergy your pooch is dealing with. Food and environmental allergies usually manifest as skin problems, hence the white flakes (and probably all that scratching you may be noticing, too). 

On top of those white flakes, you’ll notice that your dog is itching or possibly even licking their paws. There are also seasonal allergies like dust, pollen, feathers, grass, and other animal dander. Again, likely not life-threatening but should be checked out by a vet.  

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Parasites are a common cause of doggy dandruff. Your dog’s flakey skin can be a sign of parasites that cause mange caused by parasitic mites, scabies, and lice. This definitely requires a trip to the vet and can worsen if left untreated.

At-Home Prevention For Dog Dandruff

There are plenty of ways to set your doggo up for success when it comes to their skin and coat. 

Supplements and Multivitamins

Finn’s Skin & Coat Supplement was literally made for keeping your dog’s skin and coat healthy and beautiful. It’s packed with wild Alaskan salmon oil, omega-3s, vitamin E, and biotin — read: the nutrients your pup needs for strong, hydrated, and nourished hair and skin. 

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You can also give your pup a little bit of coconut oil in their food — you can start with about ¼ tsp per meal for small to medium dogs and about one teaspoon for larger dogs to help get their stomach adjusted. You can bump it up to one tsp per 10 lbs of body weight if your dog tolerates it well (i.e. doesn’t have loose stools or diarrhea — if you see this, you’re giving them too much). 

Bathing and Grooming

Bathing and grooming at home are key to preventing buildup of dead skin cells. Brush your dog at least once per day with a brush that is suitable for their coat. Brushing your dog helps to disperse the oils throughout their coat.

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While bathing your dog is great for getting the mud off and helping them smell more cuddleable, it is possible to bathe your dog too often. Frequent bathing can lead to dry, itchy skin and dandruff. Make sure you’re rinsing thoroughly after each bath and that no shampoo or residue is left behind. 

You can also ask your vet about using a medicated shampoo that is specifically meant for dandruff if you find the flaking not improving with the other suggestions in this list.


A humidifier can do a lot of good for your pup’s skin. Consider investing in one if your dog tends to get dandruff, especially in the winter, and depending on what part of the world you live in. The steam can help soothe and hydrate their dry skin. Your pup will be more comfortable and less itchy in no time!


Depending on what’s causing your dog’s dandruff problem, there are a handful of ways to treat it. 

  • Environmental allergies are typically treated with medication prescribed by your dog’s vet. Your vet will likely recommend a diet change if it’s a food allergy. Oftentimes, veterinarians manage allergy issues with multiple different treatment strategies. 
  • Skin infections are usually treated with a topical cream or oral medication. It really depends on what your dog is suffering from. If it’s something more serious, like an immune-mediated disease, your dog’s vet will likely do a skin biopsy and then work to replace the oils that the skin is missing. 
  • Treatment for parasites depends on the severity and intestinal or part of their exterior. Medication is usually prescribed, but sometimes surgery is needed. 

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When To Consult a Vet for Dog Dandruff

While doggy dandruff isn’t always a cause for alarm, you’ll want to look out for other common symptoms typically associated with the white flakes. 

These symptoms include the following:

  • Frequent itching
  • Pimples
  • Scaling
  • Hair loss
  • Tension 
  • Odor
  • Excessively oily Fur
  • Scabs
  • Other signs of illness or discomfort

If your dog is experiencing any of the above, you’ll want to contact their vet as these symptoms could be associated with a more serious underlying issue. Your vet will likely run a skin scrape test, bacterial and fungal checks, and potentially blood tests as well. 

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Kick Those Flakes to the Curb With Finn

Flaky skin is not fun for either the pet or the pet parent. The scientific name for dog dandruff is seborrheic dermatitis, and it occurs when flakes of dead skin cells fall out of place and either hang onto the hairs or fall off the head completely. It can be caused by weather changes, a lacking diet, allergies, parasites, and other skin issues. 

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Thankfully, there are ways to prevent dog dandruff, especially at home. Daily grooming (brushing and bathing), a well-balanced diet incorporating skin-healthy supplements and vitamins, as well as the use of a humidifier are all ways to stop those nasty white flakes. 

For more severe dog dandruff, treatment may be needed, and it’s typically an oral or topical medication prescribed by a vet. Remember to speak to a specialist before giving your dog anything, even if it’s over-the-counter. 


My Dog Has Dry Skin and Dandruff | American Kennel Club

Dry Skin on Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment | American Kennel Club

Seborrhea in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and FAQs | PetMD 

Dog Allergies: Symptoms and Treatment | American Kennel Club



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