Dandruff, dry skin and skin conditions are not problems only experienced by people; your pet can suffer, too. There are many reasons why your pet may develop dry, flaky skin, including under or over-grooming and bathing, a dietary deficiency, or an underlying medical issue. What can you do to help? Here are a few tips:
Under-grooming, or a total lack of grooming, allows dead, flaky skin to accumulate under your pet’s coat. While short-haired breeds of dogs and cats don’t have much undercoat for this dead skin to get trapped in, double-coated and long-haired breeds hold on to those dead flakes like a dog with a bone. If your pet’s hair isn’t being groomed on a regular basis, excessive flaking will build up as the dead skin mixes with the undercoat.
Our feline friends typically self-groom away their dead skin and excess hair, but even a kitty with very long hair, or one who is overweight, can’t always do a thorough job. Particularly in obese cats, dead skin tends to accumulate across the back of the pelvis, where they can’t easily reach to groom. As needed, give your kitty a helping hand to keep flaking at bay.
Along with grooming comes bathing, which can sometimes be a guessing game when it comes to frequency. Too many or too few baths can be the cause of excessively flaky skin for your pet. It used to be pet shampoos were made from corrosive and abrasive ingredients making it better to wash your pet only in the event he became visibly dirty. Nowadays, there are plenty of safe, gentle pet shampoos available for our four-legged friends. Just as most of us shampoo multiple times per week, if not daily, you can also bathe your pet regularly without worrying about over-drying their skin and coat. Let the condition of your pet’s skin dictate the frequency of the baths you provide, and remember, cats sometimes need baths as well.
Pets living in dry climates tend to need fewer baths than animals living in high humidity areas. But, of course, the drier the air, the drier the skin and coat can become, which promotes flaking. And, as a general rule of thumb, high humidity areas promote more skin irritation. Keep these things in mind when deciding your pet’s bath schedule.
Always select a gentle, non-abrasive shampoo for your dog or cat. While bathing every day is probably overkill and will cause flaking, never bathing your pet allows build-up of dead skin and hair. Bathing, in conjunction with brushing, helps exfoliate dead skin and keep flaking in check.
Dogs and cats alike need an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids to be healthy, and a dietary lack is a very common cause for flaky skin. Processed pet foods are typically manufactured in manner that renders the omega-3s inert, making them no longer active or useful to your pet’s body. Unless you’re feeding your pet fish on a daily basis, chances are his diet is unbalanced for fatty acids. Supplementing with essential fatty acids such as krill oil or coconut oil can be beneficial.
Underlying Medical Issues
Last but least, flaking skin can also be a sign of an underlying medical problem. Cats and dogs alike can have metabolic conditions that can cause flaky skin. Thyroid conditions, skin infections, bacterial infections and fungal infections are common culprits. In cats, any health issue that causes her to not feel well can translate to a lack of regular or thorough grooming. Excessively flaky skin is a common sign of an ill kitty.
If your precious pup or cuddly kitty is having a problem with flaky skin, work with your vet to identify the root cause so you can take the proper steps to resolve the issue, bringing your pet’s skin and coat back to a healthy condition, and your pet back to a happy and healthy companion.