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How To Get Rid Of Dog Dandruff

Have you noticed dandruff on your dog’s fur? Or are you wondering how to get rid of dog dandruff? While dandruff isn’t harmful, it can signify a skin issue, allergy, or environmental problem, so it shouldn’t be ignored.

The good news is that dandruff is often simple to resolve. Here’s an overview of what causes dandruff in dogs, along with seven tips for getting rid of it.

What Is Dandruff?

How To Get Rid Of Dog Dandruff

A dog’s skin cells are continuously dying, shedding, and being replaced by new cells. This is a natural process that’s essential for regeneration and skin health.

These dead skin cells clump into white flakes, which we call dandruff. It’s normal to see small amounts of dandruff on a dog’s fur, but the flakes are usually removed as the dog grooms itself.

Sometimes too much dandruff is produced though. The flakes then become more visible, as the dog’s grooming isn’t enough to remove them all from the coat.

Dandruff is unsightly, but it isn’t usually harmful by itself. However, it’s often a symptom of another issue, such as allergies, parasites, or a lack of humidity in the environment. Excessive dandruff can also happen if the dog isn’t grooming itself as much as normal.

Blue paw

Types of Dandruff

Several types of dandruff can affect a dog’s coat. These are called dry and oily seborrhea:

  • Dry Seborrhea. This is when there are large amounts of white flakes in the dog’s fur. When most people talk about dandruff, they mean dry seborrhea.
  • Oily Seborrhea. Dogs with oily seborrhea have excessively oily skin. There is often a noticeable odour.

Additionally, a type of mite called cheyletiellosis is sometimes called “walking dandruff.” While they might look like dandruff, they are highly contagious parasites that can cause itching and scaling.

Why Does My Dog Have Dandruff?

There are many causes of dandruff in dogs. Some cause dandruff across the whole coat, while others are localised to a specific patch of fur.

The causes of dandruff can broadly be divided into three categories:

  • Skin Problems. This category includes conditions that directly affect the skin, such as allergies, infections, fleas and ringworm. But it also includes conditions that can have an indirect impact on the skin, such as dietary problems, stress, and hormonal conditions.
  • Self-Grooming Problems. Dead skin cells are usually removed by a dog’s self-grooming routine. If the dog can’t groom itself enough, dandruff may build up over time. Joint pain and obesity are two common reasons a dog may find it more difficult to self-groom.
  • Environmental Issues. Sometimes dandruff is due to external factors, rather than a problem with the dog. For example, low humidity can cause the skin to become dry, leading to flaking. Excessive bathing can have a similar effect, as important oils are stripped from the skin.

In many cases, dandruff is not serious and goes away once the underlying problem has been resolved. You probably don’t need to book an urgent vet appointment, unless there are other symptoms.

You should still take your dog for a vet checkup though. This will allow you to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

How To Get Rid Of Dog Dandruff (7 Methods)

Listed below are seven of the best methods for treating dog dandruff. Remember that the most effective treatment depends on the underlying cause of dandruff, so not every method will be suitable for your pet.

This is also why you should always consult a vet about your dog’s dandruff. Home remedies can help, but only if you have an accurate diagnosis from a vet.

Some causes of dandruff may also require medical treatment, such as hormonal imbalances or mites.

1. Try An Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

There is a range of anti-dandruff shampoos for dogs on the market. These often contain ingredients to soothe and moisturise the skin, such as aloe vera and oatmeal.

While anti-dandruff shampoos often can’t solve the underlying problem, they can help reduce irritation and the amount of dandruff on your dog’s fur.

Make sure you read the label carefully to check the shampoo is suitable for your dog. Depending on the instructions, you may also need to leave the shampoo in the fur for several minutes.

Never use human shampoos on your dog (such as Head and Shoulders). These are not made for a dog’s skin and can be harmful.

2. Treat Dry Areas With Moisturiser

If your dog has dandruff in patches of their fur, this could be caused by dry skin areas. Applying a dog moisturiser to these areas could help soothe the skin and reduce irritation, leading to less dandruff.

As with shampoos, it’s important to only use a moisturiser specifically made for dogs. Human moisturisers could cause additional skin issues and may not be safe for your pet.

3. Identify Potential Food Allergies

Food allergies can cause many symptoms in dogs, with some of the most common being itchy skin, ears, and paws.

Itchiness shows that the skin is irritated and inflamed. This can cause dandruff to appear on the fur, as there are more dead skin cells shedding faster than normal.

Most dog allergies are caused by proteins, such as those found in wheat, soy, dairy, or chicken. Any food can potentially be an allergen though.

This can make identifying a food allergy difficult, so you should ask your vet for help. A temporary elimination diet is one of the most effective options, although your vet may also use a blood test for specific foods.

4. Brush Your Dog More Frequently

Brushing is vital for maintaining your dog’s healthy coat. By spreading healthy oils across the skin and improving coat health, you can reduce the amount of dandruff on the fur. Brushing also removes existing dandruff, leading to a more attractive coat.

Choosing the right brush for your dog’s coat and skin is essential though. A brush that’s too stiff may cause extra skin irritation, making dandruff worse. But a brush that’s too soft won’t be effective.

On a related note, it’s important not to bathe your dog too often. An occasional bath every 3-4 weeks is probably fine for most pups, but frequent bathing can strip the healthy oils from a dog’s coat. This leads to skin irritation, dandruff, and discomfort.

5. Ensure Your Dog is Getting a Balanced Diet

Don’t overlook the importance of diet when maintaining your dog’s skin and coat health!

Your dog needs nutrients and minerals to maintain a shiny coat and skin that doesn’t flake. By providing a nutritionally complete and high-quality diet, you can reduce the chance of dandruff.

A poor diet (or lack of exercise) can also cause obesity in dogs. This can make it hard for the dog to groom themselves effectively, making dandruff more visible.

6. Provide Dog Skin Supplements

Several types of dietary supplements may reduce dandruff in dogs. These supplements only work if a deficiency is causing the problem though.

For example, dogs need the right amount of healthy fat in their diet to maintain their coat. If your dog isn’t getting enough of these fats, then this may cause skin dryness and dandruff.

A potential solution is to supplement with fish oil. These supplements contain healthy fatty acids (such as omega-3), which may help to restore coat health.

However, you should always discuss supplementation with your vet before you add a new supplement to your dog’s diet. 

7. Give Your Dog An Oatmeal Bath

Oatmeal baths are a common home remedy for dog dandruff. This is because oatmeal’s anti-inflammatory properties can soothe irritated skin, reduce itchiness, and remove existing dandruff.

It’s easy to make an oatmeal bath, as long as you have a blender or food processor. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Blend 0.5-1 cup of oatmeal (or slightly less for smaller breeds) on the highest setting. The goal is to reduce the oats to a fine powder.
  2. Take a tablespoon of powder and test it in a glass of warm water. If the oatmeal doesn’t easily absorb the water, you’ll need to grind it finer.
  3. If the oats absorb the water and turn it into a milky colour, you can bathe your dog.
  4. Start running a bath of warm water, then tip in the oat powder. Stir the water, so the oat is fully dissolved.
  5. Put your dog in the bath, then use a cup to pour the oat water over their coat. Use your hands to gently rub oatmeal onto the worst areas for irritation.
  6. If possible, keep your dog in the bath for around 10 minutes to let the mixture have full effect.
  7. Rinse off the oat solution with clean warm water, then use a towel to dry them off. Do not use a hairdryer.

Note: If your dog has never been in a bath before, gradually introduce the idea using treats and lots of positive reinforcement. 


Dandruff isn’t dangerous, but it can be a symptom of a medical condition. It may also show that your dog is having difficulty grooming or that environment is too dry.

For this reason, it’s important to get a vet checkup if you notice your dog has excessive dandruff. Once you’ve received a diagnosis, you may be able to use some of the tips in this article to reduce the problem.

Do you have any questions about how to get rid of dog dandruff? Please let us know in the comments.


Richard Cross

Richard is a journalist who specialises in dog behavior. He's written hundreds of articles and books related to dogs, including for the Continental Kennel Club, Dog Fest (the UK's biggest dog festival) and various veterinary surgeries. When he's not spending time with Jess and Rudy (his beloved Labrador and Golden Retrievers), he enjoys reading, hiking and watching sports.
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