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How to treat a Labrador with flaky skin

A concerned reader wrote to ask about how to treat his Labrador's flaky skin or dog dandruff.

dog dandruff

A concerned reader asked this question regarding dog dandruff: Our two-year-old black Labrador has developed flaky skin that is visible when I pull back his coat. I first noticed it after I washed him down after a particularly muddy afternoon shooting woodies.

It does not seem to bother him, he does not scratch excessively, nor does his coat seem particularly affected apart from the odd flake being visible, but should I be concerned and will it get worse if I don’t do anything?

Veterinary surgeon Tony Buckwell had the answer: As long as your Labrador isn’t scratching and the condition consists of no more than mild “dandruff”, this is unlikely to be anything to be too concerned about. You can try to improve the coat by feeding a diet that is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids.

There are a number of proprietary feeds on the market now intended specifically for this purpose, or you could mix a couple of drops of cooking oil in his normal feed.

How to treat dog dandruff

Bath the dog using a human antidandruff hair shampoo to help to clear the scurf and clean the skin but don’t bath your dog too frequently. Frequent bathing, particularly with human hair shampoos, will tend to dry a dog’s skin and make these conditions worse; on some occasions I’ve actually known it to be the cause.

Once the coat has improved and you wish to bath the dog, it is generally best to use a shampoo that is specially formulated for use in dogs, such as those used by professional dog groomers and available through specialist retailers.

If the condition doesn’t improve, and particularly if the dog should start scratching the affected areas, take your dog to the vet. Scurfy, irritable skin conditions can be a potential sign of mange so take obvious precautions, avoid close continual contact with the dog — don’t let him lie on your lap or on the bed for instance — until your vet has made an examination and diagnosed the problem.