The condition that is often referred to as “dandruff” by pet owners, is highly common in dogs and cats. Most often, scaly skin has fairly benign origins and is not a big deal, but excessive cases of scaly skin / dandruff can point to an underlying cause. There are numerous reasons a pet can be experiencing skin issues, so tests must be done to determine the specific cause and the proper treatment. Here are some common causes:
Primary or Secondary Infections
Infections from bacteria or yeasts can result in a host of skin problems. Bacteria will commonly show scaly skin, while yeast will create greasy skin. Both can be easily diagnosed and managed with medications from your vet.
Parasites or Ringworm
Fleas are the worst, especially in Florida when hard freezes are rare to stop fleas in their tracks for a few months and help control their population. They can wreak all kinds of havoc on pet skin, so it’s important to use a monthly preventative, especially for pets with sensitive skin. Mites and ringworm are also common culprits of skin scaliness. Your vet can diagnose and treat these unwelcome critters with a simple tests and medications.
Allergic Skin Disease
Allergic skin disease is common in areas with high levels of seasonal allergens. Pets with this condition may lick or itch themselves until they break the skin, and exhibit excessive greasiness in their skin and/or coat (or on the other end of the spectrum, present with excessive dryness and scaliness.) Managing the common issues listed above is the essential first line of defense. Allergic skin disease doesn’t always have a specific cure, but finding and treating the underlying issue(s) and reducing irritants will help increase the level of comfort for your pet. Your vet can administer a blood test to check for common allergies, and may instruct you on how to test your pet for food allergies with a challenge diet. Antihistamines and essential fatty acid supplements can reduce itchiness in many animals.
Internal diseases can present problems with the skin and coat. Speak with your veterinarian to rule out any serious diseases.
No Underlying Cause
And, finally, some dogs and cats can show excessive scaliness without an underlying cause, and sometimes it’s worse during certain seasons. Winter, especially up north, can bring out the worst in flakiness, due to lower humidity exacerbating dryness. Vets may recommend regular bathing with medicated shampoos, holistic treatments, fatty acids, and/or antioxidants. It’s important to test for other issues before arriving at this conclusion, though. See your vet with any concerns.
Fight Skin Issues with Diet
A high quality, natural food is critical for minimizing scaliness that can occur when a pet is sensitive to the additives and poor quality ingredients found in lower-end pet foods. Like people, pets can be sensitive to certain ingredients in their food, and pets with allergic skin can benefit from positive changes in their food, such as choosing a grain-free or raw diet.
If you have questions about making a change to your pet’s food, speak with your vet and come see our highly trained employees at Pets Plus. We offer a wide variety of raw and freeze-dried foods, as well as grain-free, and other premium kibble. Supplements may also be useful for controlling skin issues. We are happy to help you select products that will help encourage the well-being of your pets.