BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details
Expert Shopper Pets

How to treat dog dandruff

Why does my dog have dandruff?

There are lots of ways in which humans and dogs are different. But one of the ways you and your furry friend are similar is the way your skin can become irritated.

Just like humans, dogs can develop dandruff. Although the causes can vary, many of them are environmental and easily treated at home.

However, the manner in which you treat dog dandruff largely depends on the root cause. If you don’t investigate the reason for the dandruff, treatment without consulting a vet could make the condition worse.

Symptoms of dandruff in dogs

Symptoms of dandruff in dogs are very similar to that in people. You might notice flakes sitting on your dog’s skin or on their coat. Flakes drifting from the skin may be noticeable when they’re jumping or running around. But you’re far more likely to spot dandruff on your dog’s back than their head.

Other places you might spot flakes are any place your dog lays down, such as their bed or crate or on your furniture. This can be much easier to spot if you have a dog with a pale or white coat where the flakes aren’t as noticeable on their body.

Apart from the dandruff flakes themselves, you might also notice your dog scratching more than usual, along with some redness or irritation on the skin.

Dog dandruff causes

Just like human skin, dogs have sebaceous glands in their skin that produce and regulate oil to keep their coats healthy and glossy. An excess or lack of sebum can cause an imbalance on the skin, which can lead to dandruff.

The root cause of the dandruff can vary widely. Pay particular attention to whether the dandruff is localized to one spot or spread throughout your dog’s skin to narrow down potential causes.

Regardless of the cause of your dog’s dandruff, it’s best to seek medical advice from your vet before beginning any potential treatments.

Parasites and infections

Bacterial and fungal infections can cause dandruff on your dog’s skin. If you notice excessive dandruff and more serious irritation on the skin, this could well be the cause.

Dog’s can also suffer from “walking dandruff.” This is caused by a parasite called the cheyletiella mite. These mites are just about visible to the naked eye, so you may be able to spot them on your dog’s skin and coat if you look closely enough. The mites feed on the skin under your dog’s coat and can cause extreme itching.


Whether you live in a hot climate or you have the heating on high during the winter, dry air and weather conditions can be an environmental factor in your dog’s dandruff. You’ll have an inkling if this is the cause if the dandruff comes and goes seasonally.

Poor nutrition

Preventing and treating dog dandruff starts with ensuring your dog’s skin is healthy. Diet and nutrition are essential components of healthy skin, whether you’re treating existing dandruff or preventing further outbreaks.

Ensure your dog has a healthy and well-balanced meal plan. Components such as fatty acids are key ingredients to watch out for when it comes to skin health. You may need to consider adding special supplements to your dog’s regular meals if needed.

Medical conditions

Whether they’re genetic or otherwise, certain medical conditions can severely impact your dog’s skin and cause ongoing dandruff issues.

This can include more serious conditions, such as hypothyroidism or something as simple as seasonal allergies. 

Best treatments for dog dandruff

Natural home remedies

If you’d like to try some natural remedies at home, you should still be very careful about what you apply to your dog’s skin before the root cause has been medically diagnosed by a vet.

Some soothing and gentle remedies include oatmeal baths and placing a humidifier near their bed at night to soothe dryness and irritation.

Dog shampoos and ointments

There are lots of dog shampoos, conditioners and ointments available from pet stores. Many are medicated for more immediate relief from symptoms such as itching. Learn more about soothing dog oatmeal shampoos in the full buying guide by BestReviews. 

Preventative measures

The key to preventing dog dandruff is to provide a well-balanced diet and conduct regular grooming. 

Good nutrition helps to keep your dog’s skin balanced, while regular grooming removes debris and dander from the surface of your dog’s skin and distributes oils more evenly throughout their coats.

What you need to buy to treat dog dandruff

Nutri-Vet Fish Oil Supplements for Dogs

Fatty acids in these fish oil supplements help to keep your dog’s skin and coat in tip-top condition. You should start seeing results after 4 to 6 weeks.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Vet's Best Medicated Oatmeal Shampoo for Dogs

This oatmeal-based shampoo is specially made for dogs’ skin to soothe irritation, cleanse and hydrate the skin. It helps to both treat and prevent dog dandruff.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hot Spot & Itch Relief Spray

For dogs who are licking or scratching excessively, this spray provides immediate relief until longer-term shampoos and medications can take a more lasting effect.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Zack & Zoey Polyester Nor'easter Dog Blanket Coat

During the winter, the cold weather can be a contributing factor in drying out your dog’s skin. If you live in a cold climate, this cozy dog vest can help keep your dog’s skin protected from the elements.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Four Paws Magic Coat Slicker Brush

This brush gently lifts the buildup of dander, dirt and loose hair from your dog's skin to reduce shedding and stimulate circulation in the skin for a healthier coat.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dog Food

Nutrition can play an important role in the health of your dog’s skin. This dog food is formulated with probiotics to fortify your dog’s immune system and remain gentle on their skin and stomach.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Lauren Farrell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Share this post: