Winter is coming to an end, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m a dog that loves being outside. Plus, because I’ve spent a lot of time in the artificial heat and dry air, I’ve developed a case of dandruff. Although I’m not embarrassed by it as some people can be, it’s not pleasant. The dry, flakey skin makes me itchy and leaves a mess for my humans to have to clean up. But just like our humans, there are shampoos that we can use to help with dandruff. And who doesn’t like a nice bath every once in a while.
What is Dandruff?
As with people, dandruff is a skin condition where small flakes of skin peel off of a dog’s body and scalp. It can be uncomfortable, messy, and a sign of more serious health conditions.It’s important to know that if your dog’s dandruff isn’t easily treated or becomes worse, they should see a vet to determine the root cause and whether or not it needs treatment.
What is Secondary Dandruff?
Secondary dandruff is dandruff associated with an underlying condition. It can only be remedied when you treat the root cause. Symptoms accompanying dandruff that may indicate a separate issue include:
- Open sores
- Loss of appetite
- Sudden change in bowel movements
- Bleeding skin
What Can Cause Dandruff?
Dry Skin – This is the most common cause of dandruff. A dry environment – which is especially a problem in the winter when the heat’s turned on – will lead to dry skin and dandruff. While you can combat this by making sure your dog has a constant supply of fresh water or using a humidifier, dry skin resulting in dandruff is sometimes inevitable.
Allergies – Allergies – from environmental factors like pollen and grass to food ingredients such as chicken, pork, beef, or wheat – can, and often will lead to dry skin that causes dandruff.
Improper Diet – If your dog is being fed substandard food, or items that doesn’t contain the proper nutrients, it can lead to poor coat and skin health, resulting in dry skin and dandruff.
Infections – Infections, both bacterial and fungal, can quickly inhabit a dog’s body, causing dried, scaly, and itchy skin, leading to dandruff. These infections can often be an indication of a more serious underlying issue.
Parasites – Fleas are the most common parasite that can lead to dry skin and dandruff. A flea’s bite can cause an irritated, dry patch of skin that your dog will have the urge to scratch, increasing the irritation and resulting in dandruff.
Mites are another common parasite. They can cause “walking dandruff,” where the movement of the mites together with the resultant flakey skin can make it seem as if the dandruff is moving.
Cushing’s Disease – Cushing’s disease is an endocrine disorder, which leads to the improper function of hormone-secreting glands. This is one of the most serious causes of dandruff. Take your dog to the vet immediately if they’re suspected of having Cushing’s disease.
Genetics – While rare, some dogs can inherit dandruff from their parents. In this instance, dandruff would be treatable, not preventable.
What to Look for in a Dandruff Shampoo
There’s a dog shampoo for nearly everything, with each having its unique advantages and disadvantages. Dandruff shampoos for dogs can be broken down into three categories: certified organic, natural, and chemical-based.
Chemical-based shampoos are made of artificial ingredients and are typically the cheaper option. While not necessarily a bad choice, as they contain antiseptic ingredients that effectively combat dandruff, it’s important to be aware of what ingredients are in the shampoo, as certain chemicals may dry out the skin and make the problem worse.
Certified organic shampoos contain only natural ingredients without any added chemicals. These shampoos are great for dogs that may have sensitive skin or allergies. They must undergo a certification process to ensure they’re organic, often making them more expensive.
Natural shampoos shouldn’t be confused with certified organic brands. Companies will use all-natural ingredients, but there’s no certification process to ensure they’re 100% organic. These shampoos can have extra additives while still maintaining their natural status. Again, be aware which ingredients could irritate your dog’s allergies or sensitive skin.
Ingredients such as aloe vera, honey, peppermint, and some antiseptics are the biggest factor when buying dandruff shampoo for your dog. These ingredients will help rid your pup of dandruff as well as preventing by moisturize their skin.
Avoid ingredients such as alcohol, artificial dyes and coloring, and perfume. They can dry your dog’s skin out and make dandruff worse.
4 Best Brands to Treat Your Dog’s Flakey Skin
It’s now time to examine some of the top shampoos available. Here are the top four dog dandruff shampoos based on customer ratings:
1. Pro Pet Works Natural Oatmeal Shampoo
Pro Pet Works Natural Oatmeal Shampoo is specially formulated for pets with sensitive skin and allergies. It contains none of the harsh chemicals that often cause irritations. The alcohol-free formula is vet recommended and designed to clean and deodorize your dog while reducing or eliminating dry skin and dandruff. Pro Pet Works accomplishes this with a blend of aloe, oatmeal, almond oil, and Vitamins A, D, and E, a natural blend of ingredients that won’t dry out a dog’s skin.
Amazon Rating: 4.6 Stars
- No added chemicals
- Designed specifically for animals with allergies and sensitive skin
- Lathers and rinses well
- Made with organic ingredients
- Conditioning formula helps to detangle fur
- Money-back guarantee
- Not for use on dogs under 12 weeks old
2. 4-Legger Organic Dog Shampoo
A USDA-certified organic product, the 4-Legger Organic Dog Shampoo is an all-organic item formulated for dogs with dry, itchy skin and dandruff. This shampoo is detergent-free, sulfate-free, and contains no harsh chemicals. Essential oils like rosemary and lemongrass both relieve dry skin and have antibacterial and antifungal properties to help soothe and heal skin issues. The concentrated formula means less is more, saving you money in the long run.
Amazon Rating: 4.5 Stars
- USDA-certified organic product
- Soothes dry, itchy skin and relieves dandruff
- Hypoallergenic and safe for dogs with allergies
- Doesn’t remove dogs’ natural oils
- Alcohol-, perfume-, and dye-free
- Good for dogs of all ages
- Expensive compared to other non-certified organic shampoos
- Concentrated formula means it can be hard to lather
3. Vet’s Best Hypoallergenic Shampoo
Vet’s Best Hypoallergenic Shampoo is a vet-recommended product from a trusted, well-known brand. This shampoo is gentle and soap-free, making it perfect for sensitive skin, and relieves the uncomfortable itch of dry skin and dandruff. The vet-formulated blend of plant-based ingredients can be used as often as needed without the worry of drying out your dog’s skin. Because Vet’s Best is natural and hypoallergenic, it’s safe to use on dogs and puppies of all ages.
Amazon Rating: 4.5 Stars
- Vet recommended and formulated
- Hypoallergenic and safe for dogs with sensitive skin and allergies
- Won’t remove a dog’s natural oils
- Customers have reported a reduction in shedding
- Aloe vera and Vitamin E help soothe itchy skin
- Concentrated formula makes shampoo hard to lather
4. Burt’s Bees All-Natural Oatmeal Shampoo
Burt’s Bees is a well-established company known for making all-natural, environmentally friendly products. The all-natural oatmeal shampoo for dogs offers a natural formula that’s gentle on a sensitive dog’s skin while moisturizing and soothing dry, itchy areas, which is important when trying to eliminate dandruff. This shampoo is vet recommended for its soothing factors and ability to clean and condition a dog’s coat.
Amazon Rating: 4.5 Stars
- Alleviates itchy, dry skin
- Established company with a reputation for making quality products
- No harsh chemicals to dry out a dog’s skin
- Safe for frequent use
- Safe for dogs of all ages
- Vet recommended
- Doesn’t lather well
- Can be difficult to rinse out of a dog’s fur