Dogs get dandruff like humans and usually it is harmless. But not always. It can be an indicator of serious health problems.
All dogs get dandruff. It tends, however, to be more visible in the short-coated breeds. Dandruff is merely an accumulation of dried, dead skin cells. This skin scaling is a common condition in dogs and people as well.
The aging skin that is stripped away is generally discarded in small, dry flakes. In most cases it is not a health problem, just a question of how the dog looks. You may not prevent it entirely but there are ways to control the problem and make it a little less obvious.
First, wash it away. Frequent bathing, even twice a week when it is bad will wash away the dandruff before it builds. If the dandruff is a bad case, you may even want to wash the dog daily during these bad times. Bathing a dog daily for a week or so will not be enough to dry a dog's skin. Use a specially formulated dog shampoo with moisturizers to avoid drying the dog's skin. It is best to bathe your dog in cooler water as this will soothe the ravaged skin. It may take a month or so of vigorous bathing to bring the problem under control and afterwards a monthly bath will keep the coat looking and feeling good.
Secondly, brush often. Maintain a regimen of daily brushing that stimulates the skin.
Lastly, investigate your pet's diet. A lack of fatty acids in your dog's diet may be a culprit as well. Talk to your veterinarian about possibly adding dietary supplements or merely upgrading the quality of your dog's food.
The presence of dandruff can, however, indicate that the onset of serious health problems such as skin infections, allergies or an invasion of nasty parasites. mange is caused by tiny, eight-legged troublemakers called mites. There are three varieties of mange, each caused by a different species of mite.
Demodectic mange is caused by a microscopic mite that strikes puppies in their first year of life. The mite is present in all dogs and most times will cause no symptoms while living deep in the animal's skin. In serious cases, the mites become numerous, sometimes hundreds in scarcely a square inch, and clog the hair follicles. The dog's skin becomes sore and oozes secretions and weakened hair will often fall out. If widespread on the dog's body the condition can be lethal and a veterinarian's attention is critical.
Sarcoptic mange is caused by another microscopic mite, a female, burying under the skin to lay its eggs. The eggs hatch and the new mites repeat the process in less than a month. this mange, also known as scabies, is extremely irritating and the will prompt aggressive itching and biting by the infected dog. Although sometimes difficult to diagnose, sarcoptic mange is extremely treatable.
The mite that causes Cheyletiella mange lives on the skin surface and is large enough to be captured with a fine flea comb. It's presence can be verified by examining the skin scraping from the comb under a microscope or magnifying glass. If present this reddish mite, often called a "kennel mite," can often be killed with a topical preparation. This "walking dandruff" is short-lived and will cause mild itching until it disappears.
Some unlucky pets are born with dandruff-type skin disorders and many of these can be breed-specific. It is important to make certain before you conclude that your dog's problem dandruff is just that - dandruff.