Dog Dandruff: Causes & How To Control It

If you notice that your canine buddy is scratching a lot, if their skin seems itchy, or if you notice white flakes on your doggie’s beddings, you could be dealing with a case of dog dandruff.

What exactly is dog dandruff? Dog dandruff is a skin condition that is characterized by white flakes on your doggies’ skin and a lot of itching. These flakes are actually dead skin cells. Dogs can be affected by two kinds of dandruff – dry and oily dandruff.

If your four-legged buddy has been affected by dandruff, you definitely want to know every about this skin condition. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about dog dandruff, including how to tell apart different skin conditions, how to treat dandruff, how to keep dandruff away, and so on. Before that, however, let’s start by understanding the causes of dog dandruff.

What Causes Dandruff In Dogs?

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Knowing the reason behind your dog’s dandruff will help you figure out how to treat and prevent dandruff. So, why would a dog have dandruff? Dog dandruff could be caused by several things, including:


If your canine buddy comes into contact with or ingests something they are allergic to, this could cause skin irritation and lead to dandruff.

Things that could cause allergic reactions include some dog food ingredients, some grooming products, or something your dog might have come into contact with while playing outside.

Cheyletiella Mites

These mites lead to a condition known as walking dandruff. If you are wondering what walking dandruff is, it is an infection caused by these mites that leads to scaly, red patches on your doggie’s skin.

So, what does Cheyletiella look like?

Cheyletiella mites look like whitish skin flakes. Upon closer inspection, however, you will notice that the “skin flakes” are actually moving.

Fungal Or Bacterial Infections

A lot of dog owners wonder whether dandruff is a fungal or bacterial infection. Dog dandruff can be caused by both bacterial and fungal infections.

Other Causes Of Dog Dandruff

Dog dandruff can also be caused by poor diet, fleas, environmental factors like low humidity, yeast infection, and underlying health conditions.

What Causes Black Dog Skin?

Black dog skin, also referred to as hyperpigmentation, is a condition that is characterized by dark, significantly thick, and hairless spots on your pooch’s skin. Black dog skin can be caused by allergies, skin infections, obesity, and trauma to the skin.

Does My Dog Have Dandruff Or Fleas?

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A common point of confusion for dog owners is how to tell apart dandruff from flea eggs, because they have a similar appearance.

However, flea eggs are non-sticky, which means they easily fall off your pooch’s coatIf you notice white flakes on your dog’s skin, these are dandruff, rather than flea eggs.

What Does Walking Dandruff Look Like On Dogs?

Walking dandruff has the flaky, whitish gray appearance of dandruff. However, these are actually mites, rather than dead skin cells.

Since the mites are active and constantly moving around, this makes them look like walking dandruff. Walking dandruff leads to itchiness, swollen and reddened skin, and a reddish, bumpy rash.

What Causes Black Dandruff On My Dog?

What people assume to be black dandruff is actually flea dirt or flea feces on your dog’s coat. Flea dirt is the waste product produced after fleas feed on your doggie’s blood.

So, does flea dirt mean an infestation? Yes. If you notice flea dirt on your furry friend’s coat, you will need to start treating your pooch for fleas. Black dandruff can also be caused by canine lice.

What Are The Black Spots On My Dog’s Belly?

Black spots on your dog’s belly could be flea dirt. Flea dirt often appears on the belly area because it is a hard-to-reach area for your four-legged friend to self-groom.

Black spots on your dog’s belly could also be a sign of a yeast infection. Do also watch out for similar black spots on your doggie’s tail.

How Can I Cure My Dogs Dandruff?

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If you have ascertained that your furry buddy has dandruff, now comes the difficult question: how do you get rid of dandruff on a dog?

There are several things that you can do to cure your doggie’s dandruff, including:

Brush Your Dog Regularly

Brushing your pooch’s coat regularly removes dead skin flakes (the dandruff), loose furs, and helps spread the natural oils around the coat, thus reducing skin dryness.

Use Special Shampoos

Dandruff could be caused by an allergic reaction to toxic ingredients in shampoo and other grooming products. A good way to cure the dandruff is to use special shampoos that keep your dog’s skin moisturized and prevent itching.

A good example is Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiparasitic & Antiseborrheic Medicated Dog Shampoo, which has gentle healing and fast acting agents.

Rinse Your Pooch Properly

After giving your furry friend a bath, make sure to rinse their skin properly and ensure that they are well dried. Inadequate rinsing and drying can lead to itchiness.

Get A Humidifier

Sometimes, dog dandruff could be caused by low humidity in the air, causing your doggie’s skin to become excessively dry. If this is the case, you need to get a humidifier to help add some moisture in your home’s atmosphere.

See A Vet

If you try the above home remedies and notice that the dandruff is not going away, the best course of action is to see a vet and have them diagnose the problem and give advice on the best way to treat the dandruff.

What Keeps Dandruff Away?

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For dog owners who have encountered dandruff, the main question on their mind is “why is my dog losing hair and has dandruff?” and most importantly, “what can I do to prevent this?”

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to keep dandruff away. These include:

Give Better Food

The best way to keep dandruff and other issues at bay are to give your pooch nutritious foods that keep them healthy and boost their immunity.

Ideally, you should feed your canine buddy with foods that are rich in vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids. These are essential for high immunity and good coat health.

For this, we recommend Pet Plate’s Barkin Beef. This dog food is rich in vitamins and proteins and does not have any grain ingredients, which are a common cause of allergic reactions in dogs.

Aside from giving your pooch a high nutrition diet, you should also ensure that they get enough clean water to drink. This will prevent your dog’s skin from getting too dry due to dehydration.

Proper Grooming

The other thing you need to keep dandruff at bay is to ensure your furry friend is properly groomed, always. If your dog’s coat is dirty, this creates a suitable breeding ground for parasites, which we saw are one of the causes of dandruff.

Get into the habit of brushing your dog regularly and washing them every now and then. This brings us to another important thing – just how often should your dog take a bath?

How Often Should You Bathe A Dog With Dandruff? Grooming Tips For Dogs With Dandruff

One of the most confusing things for dog owners is how often they should bathe their canine buddies. Giving your pooch a bath too often, or taking too long before baths can lead to a dry, flaky skin, which can be prone to dandruff.

So, how often should you bathe a dog with dandruff? Generally, a dog that has dandruff will need more frequent bathing. Ideally, you should give your pooch a bath two to three times a week.

Once dandruff starts reducing, you can start reducing the bathing frequency.

Do Dogs Need Conditioner?

If your four-legged buddy has dandruff, you should bathe them using a special shampoo that will condition and moisturize their skin, such as Pro Pet Works All Natural Organic 5 In One Oatmeal Pet Shampoo and Conditioner. This shampoo will prevent itchiness and prevent your doggie’s skin from getting too dry.


Sometimes, your dog could get dandruff when they shed. In this case, you need to brush them regularly. Brushing should be done very gently, using a proper brushing tool, such as the Furminator Undercoat Tool.

The Furminator Undercoat Tool is great for brushing a dog that has dandruff because it is designed in such a way that allows it to remove loose hairs without causing damage to your doggie’s coat.

To avoid the buildup of dog hairs and dandruff on your floors, you will also need a good vacuum cleaner, such as the Shark APEX AZ1002 DuoClean with a self-cleaning brushroll lift-away upright vacuum.

This vacuum is specifically designed to clean pet hairs and even comes with an anti-allergen seal.

Is Walking Dandruff Contagious? Yes. Walking dandruff, which is caused by mites is highly contagious. Walking dandruff can even affect humans. Therefore, if you notice that your four-legged friend has walking dandruff, you should ensure any other pets within the house, including other dogs, cats, and even rabbits, have been treated for the same.

Can You Use Human Dandruff Shampoo On A Dog? No, you should avoid using human dandruff shampoo on your dog. Your skin and your dog’s skin have different pH levels, and therefore, using human dandruff shampoo, or even baby shampoo on your dog could irritate your dog’s skin. Always opt for a dandruff shampoo that was specifically designed for use on dogs.

What Happens If Dandruff Is Not Treated? Dandruff is not a very serious condition on healthy dogs, and will rarely lead to health complications. Dandruff caused by infections or due to underlying medical conditions, however, could get serious especially if left untreated. So, does dandruff stay forever? No. However, if you notice that the dandruff is not going away, even with home remedies, it is advisable to see a vet.

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Pete Decker