There are lots of other names for flaky skin: scale, scurf, dandruff… whatever you want to call these little clumps of dead skin cells, they can spoil the look of an otherwise flawless, shiny coat. But is it all just a cosmetic problem? Your dog won’t turn a hair at a bit of dandruff on their shoulders but it’s the accompanying irritating itchiness that really gets under their skin.
Dog skin conditions are one of the top reasons a dog visits the vet. Doggy dandruff is a common symptom of sub-standard skin but, thankfully, an easily resolvable one. So what’s the cause and what can be done about it? This quick guide will take you through what to look out for as well as causes of flaky skin, from nutritional deficiencies to too many baths. We’ll give you some tips on how to prevent and treat flaky skin and help get your dog’s skin and coat looking tip-top once more.
Signs and Symptoms of flaky skin in dogs
A dog with flaky skin will have lots of fine particles of dandruff (basically, clumps of dead skin cells) appearing in their fur. Take a look in their bed or areas where they spend lots of time, as these are likely to contain evidence of their shed skin.
Dry, flaky skin can be incredibly itchy so you might notice your dog scratching or licking him or herself more than usual (see Itchy Skin). Rolling around on the floor or rubbing themselves against furniture is another sign of discomfort in an itchy dog. Too much scratching can also bring on hair loss so you may start to see the odd bald patch cropping up. Scabs and inflamed areas may show up where the skin has been broken and possibly infected by the scratching. You’ll know if the skin is infected as it’ll give off a bad smell.
A dog with unhealthy skin is also likely to have poorer coat condition so you may find the coat is dull and generally lacking its usual lustre. As itching can be distressing, an excessively itchy dog is likely to be an unhappy one so look out for any changes in their mood.
What causes flaky skin in dogs?
An allergy to something in the environment or to their diet is a possible trigger for skin problems in dogs. Pollen, fleabites and certain foods are all capable of turning that skin itchy and scaly. Grains and certain protein sources such as beef, chicken, wheat, corn, milk and eggs have all been known to create an allergic reaction in dogs.
It’s common for dry skin to appear in the winter months when homes are artificially heated and humidity is low. Air conditioning can also dehydrate the skin.
Beauty isn’t just skin deep and your dog’s skin needs nourishment from within. Essential oils like omega-3 and omega-6 are key to a healthy skin and coat so if they’re not getting enough from their diet, this can cause skin problems.
Frequent shampooing can strip the skin of its natural oils so over-zealous bathing of your dog can actually do more harm than good. Too little attention to their hygiene can also be bad for their skin so achieving a balance is key.
Certain conditions like diabetes, Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism can all lead to dry, flaky skin so it’s important to rule these out as possible causes.
Flaky skin in dogs treatment
So, you’re all set to wage war on those flakes? Here’s how you can set about it. Firstly, check that there’s no underlying illness that’s causing the issue. A quick consultation with your vet will help confirm your dog is otherwise healthy. Make sure your dog is flea-free and that there are no other ‘visitors’ in the fur that could be making their skin crawl.
Whilst keeping your furry friend clean and fresh is part and parcel of their care, don’t over-do the bath times. Always use bath time products specially designed for dogs and only bath them when necessary. Depending on the cause of your dog’s flaking, your vet may recommend a medicated or hypoallergenic shampoo. A regular grooming regime is an effective way of clearing away dirt and debris from the skin and coat, helping to keep it clean and healthy.
If your dog’s issue is down to a food allergy, finding out which ingredient is responsible can be tricky. Go back to basics and cut out the snacks. Steer well clear of dishing out table scraps too. Choose a simple diet made from only a few ingredients and stick at it to see results. Make sure the diet is nutritionally complete and balanced, providing all they need for total health including a glowing skin and coat. Stay away from anything containing artificial additives and fillers to minimise the chance of a reaction.
If you’re looking for a natural, simple diet for your dog, then you’re in good hands. Pure Pet Food meals are natural and the ingredients lists are super short. And you won’t find artificial preservatives, fillers or additives of any kind in our products. With all the goodness of a carefully home-prepared diet and all the convenience of a ‘just add warm water’ preparation step, we’re confident you and your dog will love our dishes. You might also be interested to hear that our diets are grain-free, taste amazing and are rich in skin-pampering nutrients like omega-3, omega-6 and zinc. Try our Turkey Terrific, Duck Delight or Chicken Dinner recipes and see if they soothe your dog’s scaly skin. Remember that it can take a couple of weeks to see results.
Meanwhile, try instantly nourishing and moisturising your dog’s skin with a dab of coconut oil. The vitamin E and essential fatty acids in coconut oil are well known for their skin nourishing properties so it’s a great quick fix for super-smooth skin. Massage a very small amount into the fur then down onto the skin. And don’t worry if they are tempted to have a little taste as it’s perfectly safe. If they’d rather eat their treatment, why not let your dog try our Meaty Sweeties? They’ve got all the benefits of coconut oil, parcelled up into tasty and natural bite-sized treats.
Other dogs’ stories
We’re really passionate about what we do, so hearing how our products have benefitted your pets is the absolute icing on our cake. We’ve heard about dogs that were driven to distraction by a burning desire to scratch, who were transformed to chilled out and cheerful. We’re tickled pink that our recipes have helped support dogs (and owners) through some challenging times.