Friday, July 16, 2010

Dry, Flaking Skin on Black Labrador--Can dogs have dandruff?

Q: Dear Ariel,
My 2 year old black labrador is so cute but he has dry, flaking skin that gets all over the place. I don't know if it is just his color that makes the flakes stand out or if there is something wrong with him. This is really bad especially when he starts itching. Is there anything natural I can do to help him?

A: This is a really good question. A dog's skin is a reflection of what is going on the inside. Dry, flaking skin (dog dandruff)--when a dog's skin is flaking, many times pet owners think the dog needs topical lotions or creams. While sure, using a topical cream rinse can help temporarily to reduce the dog dandruff, that is not a permanent answer. The problem needs to be resolved internally. The dog's coat is dry because the diet does not contain enough essential fatty acids e.g. Omega 3 fatty acids. Perhaps you have heard them referred to as Omega 3s. There are different types of Omega 3s available for pets and you need to be very careful. Many times pet owners think they are buying the "best" but getting very little for their money. Fish oil, especially in pet products can be heavily diluted with water when it is manufactured or it can be altered significantly in the manufacturing process. In addition, fish oil and flax seed oil, two important sources of Omega 3s, can contain a lot of contaminants, PCBs, toxins such as mercury.

There are a few criteria to know if the Omega 3s you are using are really as good as they claim to be. First, if they make you or your pet belch, chances are it is the contaminants in the product. A purified fish oil should not give you that continual, nasty aftertaste. It should go down and stay down! Second, you should notice a very quick improvement in your pet's coat, skin and fur. Amazing Omegas in an exceptional product that works very quickly (just a few days) and the pet's dry skin and coat will start to improve. Amazing Omegas contain the purest, most potent fish oil available. Because it is so pure, it is highly bioavailable to your dog and cat. What does bioavailable mean? It means that your pet's body is able to use it. We have had countless examples at the clinic where pet owners are already using another brand of fish oil and yet, the pet continues to have dull coat or flaky skin. This is most likely due to the fact that the oil is not a high enough quality or they are not using enough. Buyer beware--there is huge variation in fish oils.

Finally, dog skin flaking (dog dandruff) can also be due to a number of other factors such as endocrine diseases (e.g. hypothyroidism), yeast overgrowth, allergies and parasites. We definitely encourage you to first go to the veterinarian to rule this out. If nothing is determined other than dry flaking skin (dog dandruff), then be sure to use a hypoallergenic, grain-free diet along with the oils mentioned above.

AskAriel will provide a free diet suggestion on the packing slip that comes with your order. Please be sure to include your pet's diet on the order form at checkout.

Pet Nutritionist Susan Blake Davis and Her Rescue Dog Legend