Dog Dandruff: What Is It?
Dogs have long been known to suffer from dander (fine hairs) on their fur. These are called hair follicles and they produce a substance which causes skin irritation or itchiness in dogs. Dogs with dander allergy cannot tolerate these substances.
The most common cause of dander allergy is the exposure to fleas. Other possible causes include other animals such as foxes, raccoons, skunks and even birds. However, there are many other factors which could contribute to causing a dog’s allergic reaction. For example, some breeds of dogs tend to react more than others due to genetic predisposition or environmental factors like grooming habits or living conditions.
Dandruff is not just a problem for dogs; it can affect humans too. There are several reasons why dandruff might occur in humans. One reason may be due to allergies or asthma attacks. Another reason may be due to certain medications used for treating allergies or asthma.
Some cases of dandruff in humans are caused by allergic reactions to certain foods, medicines and/or other environmental factors such as dust mites and mold spores.
What are the Common Symptoms of Dandruff in Dogs?
There are several symptoms which can be signs of a dog suffering from dandruff. They may include:
Hyper-sensitivity – itching or irritation of the skin, especially around the head, ears, paws or legs. This is usually accompanied by an increase in scratching, chewing or rubbing the itchy areas. This leads to hair loss and sores which can take a long time to heal.
Red or black/brown flecks on the skin – dead skin cells or flakes. The color varies depending on whether there is a bacterial or fungal infection causing the problem. In some cases, the flakes may be white.
Odors – Like human dandruff, dog dandruff can smell bad due to the presence of bacteria or yeast on the skin or in the ears. Dogs with this problem may smell “feral” or “musty”.
Itchiness – In some cases, dogs may not show any visible symptoms but they may still suffer from itchiness. These dogs will constantly play with their ears, paws or legs. They may stop eating and lose weight as a result of lack of appetite. Other signs of hidden itchiness in these dogs may include crying out suddenly or rubbing against furniture or carpets.
How is Dog Dandruff Diagnosed?
Your veterinarian will ask you to provide detailed information about your dog’s health history including their vaccination status, diet, any recent illnesses they may have had and whether they show any allergic reactions in the past.
You will be asked to describe the condition in more detail including when it occurs, where it occurs and what may trigger its appearance or make it worse. Your veterinarian may also ask to see the dog so that they can examine it for skin problems which may be causing the dandruff. If your dog’s skin is sensitive to touch, your veterinarian may use a wooden tool called a “spatula” in order to take a small sample of skin which can be examined under a microscope for signs of infection or other abnormalities.
What is the Treatment for Dog Dandruff?
Treating dog dandruff will usually involve treating the underlying cause first. This may involve changing the dog’s diet, reducing allergens in the home, changing your grooming methods and/or treating any skin infections.
If there are noticeable signs of itchiness, your veterinarian may prescribe medicated baths followed by application of medicated shampoos to provide relief from the itching. They may also prescribe anti-fungal or antibiotic drugs if a skin infection is suspected. Your veterinarian may also recommend treatment for any mites, fleas or ticks that your dog has contracted.
If all other treatments fail, your veterinarian may suggest having your dog undergo a skin scraping to check for mites, fungus or other skin parasites which are known to cause dandruff in dogs. They may also take small samples of your dog’s skin which can be tested to see whether treatment is working.
In extreme cases, especially where the dog suffers from a serious allergic reaction or is at high risk of infection, your veterinarian may recommend that you have your dog euthanized.
How to Prevent Dandruff in Dogs
The best way to prevent dog dandruff is to ensure that your dog’s skin and fur are kept clean and well-groomed at all times. You should also make sure that you regularly wash your dog with a specially formulated shampoo which will keep their skin healthy and free of infection.
You should also keep an eye on your dog’s environment, identifying any allergens or irritants that may be affecting them. As many cases of canine dandruff are caused by allergies or irritation, keeping your dog away from these substances will help to prevent flare-ups and keep their skin healthy.
Feeding your dog a well-balanced diet will also help to ensure that their skin and fur is as healthy as can be.
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