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Ask Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP Your Own...
Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP
Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP, Small Animal Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 1801
Experience:  DABVP, Specialist in Canine and Feline Medicine, Veterinarian since 2000
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My dog has been shedding a lot of dandruff and its not normal

Customer Question

My dog has been shedding a lot of dandruff and its not normal since he usually doesn't. What should i do?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP replied 8 years ago.

Can you give me a little more information?

-What is your dog's age, breed, and is he neutered? (sorry - after I sent the first reply it just posted the additional information you posted - he's a 2 y/o lab)
-When did the problem start
-What is he eating (please be specific about type of food, treats, supplements, etc)
-indoor, outdoor, or both?
-Any other symptoms such as vomiting or increased water intake
-Finally, what products do you use on him, including for baths (how often), flea control, etc.

Thanks so much! Don't worry, we should be able to help you get to the bottom of his dander problem.
Dr. Devlin
Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP and other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
        He is not neutered and is about 2 years old. We bath him once a month and we dont really use anything for flea control we use front line for ticks. He is eating normally and lives indoors but goes outside often for exercise. We recently switched him to California Naturals food. (Lamb and rice) He recently had a test for allergies but the results aren't back yet. We treated him for ear infections and the vet said it was probably caused by allergies. He scratches and bites himself mostly in the morning. I have noticed him drinking more water since the dandruff started.(Which was 2 weeks ago)
Expert:  Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP replied 8 years ago.
Thanks for the information. It is very helpful. I have a lab and a lab mix, too!

Dandruff can be a sign of unhealthy skin, where there is a higher turn-over of skin cells. It can get worse in the winter months due to dry heat and less moisture, depending on what part of the country where you live. A small amount of dander is normal

I like the Innova and California Natural Foods- very good foods and I like the Natura company. The only down side with the California natural is that it is very limited in ingredients. Short term (for several months or a little longer) feeding is fine, though, to determine if he improves on the food,

I recommend strict flea control in any pet that exhibits itching or skin problems. You may never see a flea, but a single bite every 14-21 days can start the itch cascade. It is so much easier to prevent (I like frontline plus every 21-28 days) then to try to treat symptoms that occur. Remember, you may never see fleas, but it is money well spent.

In addition, here are my recommendations for your dog:
-Make sure any and all infections are treated until resolved. Please follow up on the ear infection. It is so common for the ears to look and smell fine, but if the ears are examined with an otoscope, there may be mild infection still deep by the ear drum. The ears should be checked by the vet every 2-4 weeks until clear, and then occ. on follow up.
-Please examine your dog's skin well - any red bumps or scaling (not dander but peeling) indicate infection that needs to be treated. in addition, white or yellow dander can be due to a yeast infection, and a skin scrape and cytology would be needed to identify the yeast.
-As your vet has mentioned, ear infections in dogs that aren't otherwise swimming or having frequent baths can be a sign of food or inhaled allergies. Good job on allergy testing - the results may be helpful.
-If allergy testing doesn't help, the next step is a 12 week food allergy trial on a prescription food.
-For his itchiness and dander, please start him on an Omega 3 Fatty Acid supplement, fish based, at 1000-1500 mg a day. ( i like welactin liquid and 3V caps). This will decrease inflammation and itching.
- For dander, I like Malaseb Shampoo from your vet. It does need to be used twice weekly for best results. They also make a great spray called "relief" spray that is hydrating. Frequent brushing and massage can help also, but it will initially make the problem worse.
-There is the possibility of zinc deficiency - so giving him 1 adult multivitamin (without iron) daily (such as centrum) may help.
-For itching, try 4 mg of chlorpheniramine over-the-counter (in allergy section near benadryl) every 12 hours. It is safe to give long term.
For more information, please try these links:
For food allergies

For inhaled allergies

For ear infections:

Itch relief:

Dr. Devlin