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Published: Nov 30, 2012

Have you been petting your dog recently, only to notice a bunch of white flakes? Dandruff is not the most pleasant occurrence and it can be indicative of pet health. At its most innocent, dandruff may be your dog’s reaction to a change in weather and may indicate the need for some extra hydration. Severe dandruff accompanied by a greasy coat may indicate hormone problems, like hypothyroidism in dogs.

Ruling out health problems
Severe dandruff can be a sign of a health problem. It may indicate a food allergy or a hormonal imbalance. Hypothyroidism is characterized by excessive dandruff and shedding, along with dry, dull hair, weight gain, lethargy and cold intolerance, among other symptoms, VCA Animal Hospitals reports. If your dog's symptoms are severe, contact your veterinarian to nail down a medical cause.

Addressing the cause
Sometimes, your dog's skin may simply be dry, but there could still be a number of reasons why. Dog grooming is important to distribute the coat's natural oils and massage the skin, so if you are not grooming regularly, dandruff may be the result. A lack of nutrients in your dog's food could also be the culprit. Dogs need a certain amount of healthy fats in their diet to keep their coats shiny and skin supple.  A veterinarian will be able to consult about whether your canine companion is getting enough fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. Dry, flaky skin could also result from upsetting the pH balance of your pet's skin. Using human shampoo can cause your dog's skin to dry out and flake.

Keeping dandruff at bay
Although you do not want to use your own dandruff shampoo on your pet, there are plenty of moisturizing, anti-dandruff shampoos made specifically for the pH of dogs' skin. Bathing your canine companion regularly can help to keep the hydration there despite dry winter weather. It's a good idea to use conditioner if your dog's skin seems really dry and itchy. This will restore any lost moisture to the dog's skin and lock it in even after he is all dried off.

There are also pet oils and moisturizers your vet can recommend. Oils often come in spritz bottles that you can apply directly to your dog's skin to soothe itchy, dry patches. Also ask your vet about omega 3 fatty acid (fish oil) supplements to help improve your dog’s skin and coat quality from the inside out.