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Cat dandruff and pet shampoos

The last thing you expect from your furry little friend is a blizzard of flaky skin. Dog dandruff. Cat dandruff…..Now what should a caring pet owner do? “Pet dandruff looks like a really bad case of people dandruff – you can easily see it with most animals,” says Nancy Scanlan, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in California.

While occasionally dog dandruff and cat dandruff can indicate a serious health problem, like allergies, parasites, or skin infections, more often it occurs when skin cells naturally proliferate — They form, die and then flake off — at an accelerated rate.

Scott Weldy, D.V.M. says, “Since pet dandruff is a sign of flaky skin, giving your pet regular baths will help wash the flakes away before they accumulate. Bathing your pet once a month in winter and twice a month in summer may clear up the problem for good.”

  • To bathe your pet, use warm water, Not hot water.
  • Use a mild shampoo and massage it well into your pet's skin.
  • Then rinse thoroughly and dry your pet well.
  • Don't use medicated shampoos made for humans because they can be harmful for pets.
  • Check the label carefully! Products that may be safe for dogs, may not necessarily be safe for cats.
  • To prevent making dandruff worse, avoid using shampoos that include an insecticide.
  • Most flea shampoos are very drying to the skin, thus creating more dandruff problems.

Regular brushing and grooming your pet will help distribute natural oils evenly over dry skin, which will help keep dandruff down.

Choose a brush that's not too harsh. You can tell by rubbing the brush against the back of your hand to see if it will hurt. Something you would use on your own head will be excellent for your pet.

“If you've tried shampoos, regular brushing and new foods and it still looks like winter on your pet's coat, you're probably going to need professional help,” says Jan A. Hall, D.V.M.

“While dandruff is usually nothing more than flaky skin, in some cases it can indicate serious problems. Warning signs to watch for, besides the flakes, include scabs, crusting or itching.”

“Problems with the skin can be an indication of internal disease. After a month or so, if there is no improvement, you should take your pet to the vet.”

According to Mollyann Holland, D.V.M., “Sometimes we'll see dandruff when animals aren't getting enough fat in their diets. Giving your pet fish oil supplements will help improve the metabolism of fats in skin tissue. Some generic and supermarket brand foods do not provide the full range of vitamins and minerals your pet needs to maintain a healthy skin. Many pets have been taken off generic foods and put on a high quality food and the cases of dandruff have disappeared.”

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