When your scalp itches and you notice white flakes on your shoulders, you know you have dandruff. But did you know that this condition can also occur in cats? The skin is a constantly renewing organ, so it’s completely normal for the top layer of skin to slough off continually. However, only when skin flaking becomes noticeable is it considered dandruff.
If you’re concerned that your cat may have dandruff, and you’re not sure what to do about it, our team at Germantown Veterinary Clinic can help. Learn more about signs that your cat may have dandruff and a few treatment options for your kitty!
How to Tell If Your Cat Has Dandruff
It’s easier to see flaky dandruff in the fur of dark-colored cats. The flakes are most often found on the animal’s back and at the base of the tail, though any part of the body may be affected. Here’s a complete list of dandruff symptoms:
- White flakes of skin in the fur
- Red, inflamed skin
- Areas of thick, scaly skin
- Greasy fur
- Poor overall coat condition
Reasons Why Your Cat May Have Dandruff
Rather than being a disease in itself, dandruff is a symptom of another condition. In most cases, cat dandruff is harmless. However, if you notice a concerning amount of flaking skin and/or other alarming symptoms, you should have the condition checked out by your vet.
Some common reasons for cat dandruff include:
- Poor diet: Cats need enough fat in their diet for healthy skin and fur. Dandruff could be a sign of nutritional deficiency.
- Skin allergies: If your cat comes in contact with something he’s allergic to, such as certain grooming products and shampoos, dandruff may be the resulting skin reaction.
- Dry conditions: Low humidity may cause your cat’s skin to dry out and flake.
- Old age: The skin naturally becomes drier with age, making dandruff more likely in elderly cats.
- Poor grooming: Old or arthritic cats with tender joints may fail to groom properly, resulting in unkempt fur and dry skin.
- Sunburn: Spending a long time in the sun can cause a sunburn, even through your cat’s fur, which causes the outer layers of skin to peel and flake.
- Skin conditions: Seborrhea, demodicosis, and Malassezia are skin conditions that can cause scaling and flaking.
- Parasites: Ringworm can cause flaky patches of skin and hair loss while mites in your cat’s fur can create the appearance of dandruff.
- Metabolic diseases: Diabetes and hyperthyroidism can affect the condition of your cat’s skin and fur.
How to Treat Cat Dandruff
When you bring your cat to the vet for dandruff treatment, the first step is to discover the underlying cause. Then the treatment you pursue depends on the condition causing your cat’s skin to flake. Here are some of the top options:
- Change your cat’s food based on recommendations from your vet.
- Avoid the source of your cat’s skin allergies, if possible. If not, allergen immunotherapy may be recommended to reduce the allergic response.
- Run a humidifier to bring the relative humidity in your home to about 50 percent.
- Treat your elderly cat’s arthritis with medication and by providing a warm spot to lie.
- Apply topical steroid cream in cases of severe sunburn.
- Bathe your cat with medicated shampoo used to treat specific skin conditions.
- Administer prescription medications to kill mites or treat ringworm. The entire household will require treatment as well to remove all lingering parasites.
- Begin diabetes treatment with a combination of dietary changes and insulin injections.
- Begin treatment for hyperthyroidism with radioactive iodine or surgery.
Treat Your Cat’s Dandruff at Germantown Vet
If you think your cat has dandruff, come to Germantown Vet for a diagnosis and treatment. We can help with this condition or any other issues your cat may experience. To schedule your cat’s visit, please contact us online or call 240-252-7467 today!