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Cat Dandruff – Causes and Remedies

You noticed little dry, flakes of skin on your cat's fur and now what? Where is this dandruff coming from and how can you get rid of it? Discover all you need to know about cat dandruff, its causes and remedies in this article.

It’s another beautiful day, you wake up to the sounds of your cat purring and rolling on your bed, but when as you started cuddling your cat you noticed something strange. It seems that her fur isn’t smooth and soft as yesterday. You get up in order to check if your cat perhaps rubbed herself into some dirt leaving her fur this way. You look once again and you realize there are plenty of skin flakes on your cat’s back.

All of this wouldn’t be such a big problem if dandruff hasn’t worsened in the last few days. You have no idea what can be causing all the flakes, and you have no clue what to do in order to make them disappear. Do not worry. We’ve been there.

As much as it can seem difficult to treat, cat dandruff will go away with a good treatment approach. However, that means that you will have to be persistent and not give up if you see that they return once you’ve finally managed to get rid of him after a couple of shots.

Let’s start by explaining what is cat dandruff and what are the most common causes of it.

What is Cat Dandruff?

Cat dandruff, just like any other dandruff, is a skin condition of dry, itchy and flaky skin. Because of losing skin moisture and its natural oils, the skin gets dry causing the flakes to fall off. It is not an alarming or dangerous condition, however, it might indicate that there might be something wrong with the cat.

Cat dandruff can come to the severe stage if left untreated. The severe dandruff is known as seborrheic dandruff in the veterinary community and it usually includes too much scratching which can lead to open sores on the skin which can potentially become infected. This is the case in which something as benign as dandruff can become complex and more difficult to treat.

While cat dandruff is a quite obvious skin condition, sometimes it can include other symptoms besides the flaky skin. The symptoms of cat dandruff are very similar to dandruff in humans.

Flaky Skin

The first and most noticeable symptom is definitely flaky, dry skin. Depending on your cat’s fur dandruff might be more or less visible. You might have to part their fur in order to see it.

Red, Irritated Skin

Severe dandruff can cause itching and scratching which will eventually lead to red, irritated patches on your cat’s skin. Excessive licking in one area can be due to a dandruff-related irritation. If you notice your cat has started to itch excessively, it is the high time to treat dandruff. All the itching can break your cat’s skin open which can lead to infections.

Hair Loss

Hair often suffers from the consequences skin conditions bring. Similarly, frequent itching and licking might create bald patches and loss of hair. This is also a sign of severe cat dandruff which should be resolved as soon as possible. If this occurs, it’s your duty to find out what is causing dandruff in your cat. Only this way will you stop your cat from suffering from serious skin damages or infections.

Cat owners should also be aware that when dandruff is presented with all of the three symptoms it could also be due to “walking dandruff”. This is a more serious condition than cat dandruff that is only behaving as dandruff but is actually a form of mange caused by the Cheyletiella mite. When these symptoms are present, contact your vet immediately.

But what is causing this poor state of the skin in our feline companions?

Why Do Cats Get Dandruff?

Generally, a lot of things could lead to dry skin and potentially dandruff. First, we’ll mention the most common ones and then get to other factors that could be the culprits of cat dandruff as well.

  • Seasonal Changes – Cat dandruff can show after your cat was exposed to too much heat during a hot day. High temperatures might make your cat’s skin extremely dry which often produces dandruff.
  • Dry Environment – Air that’s too dry can also lead to dandruff in felines. This means that if you’re overly heating your apartment during winter without additional humidifiers the air in your home might be too dry.
  • Diet – As with any other health-related issue, unbalanced nutrition can often be the reason why the health condition has initially developed. The same goes for cat dandruff. Often, the condition of flaky skin can be caused by a lack of Omega 3 oils.
  • ParasitesExternal parasites as well as internal parasites might be causing the flakiness of the skin in a cat. Fleas, lice, mites as well as ringworm are among culprits of allergic reactions, skin conditions and dandruff.
  • Shampoo – If you bathe your cat, not being able to rinse off the shampoo properly might lead to dandruff. Also, some shampoos might be more aggressive than others which can dry out the skin when used too frequently.
  • Food Allergies – A lot of allergies actually manifest on the skin. The same is true for cats and their food allergies. If you introduced a new type of food recently, it might be that your cat is allergic to some ingredient found in the new food source. Also, cats can develop food allergies if they’re fed with the same food over and over again. So, as funny as it might seem, changing your cat’s food might also help.
  • Environmental Allergies – Just like food allergies, allergens found in the environment could also lead to skin problems and dandruff. The most common allergens for cats might be some plants, fertilizers or laundry detergents.
  • Dehydration – If your cat’s skin is dry, then dehydration can likely be the culprit of all the dandruff. Is your cat drinking enough of fresh water?
  • Obesity – Overweight cats might have difficulties in reaching their lower back or the base of the tail while they clean their fur because of their size. When your cat can’t groom herself as she’s supposed to, the skin becomes prone to different types of skin conditions including dandruff.
  • Anxiety – Even the slightest changes in your lifestyle or environment could cause anxiety in your cat. Being so highly sensitive these small episodes can stress your cat out, weakening her immune system and opening the doors to potential health issues, including dandruff.
  • Age – One of the common reasons behind cat dandruff is also old age. Older cats lose elasticity in their skin which makes the skin much drier. The mobility in an older cat is also reduced, which also affects the quality of self-grooming needed for healthy fur and skin. There are plenty of factors that make the skin dry which can easily lead to dry, flaky skin.

How To Get Rid of Cat Dandruff?

In order to resolve this problem properly, you need to know what is causing it. If you read the entire list above, you might have found several culprits that could be behind your cat’s dandruff. So clearly, if your cat’s skin flakiness is caused by a food allergy or poor diet, obviously bathing your cat with an anti-dandruff shampoo won’t fix the problem.

Therefore, in order to successfully treat dandruff, different causes will require different treatment approaches.

So, if dandruff is caused by parasites, your vet might suggest you to buy a medicated cat shampoo and wash your cat’s bedding with hot water. If sunburn is what caused your cat’s dandruff, an oral or topical steroid might be needed. Allergy-induced dandruff will require antihistamines or steroids in order to be treated.

Other minor factors that we mentioned earlier could be worsening your cat’s dandruff and making it harder to treat. Therefore, there are still other things you can do in order to reduce your cat’s skin flakiness. You might make the entire process of getting rid of dandruff much quicker and easier by following these tips:

  • Brush Your Cat – Brushing helps in distributing the skin’s natural oils through the entire coat and helps in maintaining healthy skin. Therefore, if you notice some early dandruff, the first thing to do is brush, brush, brush.
  • Moisturize the Air – Dry air can aggravate skin conditions by making it dry and easy to break. Buy a humidifier that will raise the moisture of the air. This way you will ensure the dry air isn’t drying your cat’s skin out.
  • Bathe Your Cat – If you’re brave enough, you can try to bath your cat. A hypoallergenic shampoo and a conditioner will make sure to remove as much dandruff as possible and to moisturize the skin. Make sure to rinse well, because remains of shampoo can lead to more dandruff!
  • Include Omega 3 Fatty Acids – If your cat’s food might not be enough to guarantee beautiful fur and healthy skin, then you might have to add some supplements to your kitty’s diet. Omega 3 fatty acids will surely help, but also some occasional wet food might do the trick too.
  • Provide Shelters From Heat – If your cat spends too much time in spaces that are too hot during summer days, try to make these areas cooler by buying curtains or fans. If that doesn’t help, make sure you have at least one room where your cat can catch a break from the heat.
  • Cat Skin Moisturizers – As strange as this may sound, there are skin moisturizers made for cats. They can be perfect remedies for dry skin in cats. Make your cat accustomed to massages, and it will be easy to apply some of these moisturizers.

Can You Prevent Cat Dandruff?

Besides making sure you protect your cat from all kinds of parasites that can cause dandruff, there are a lot of things you can still do in order to make sure your cat doesn’t get close to having flaky skin.

Brushing your cat regularly will surely help your cat maintain healthy skin. Also, high-quality nutrition that has enough of Omega 3 fatty acids in it will provide your cat’s skin with important natural oils and therefore prevent dandruff from happening. It is vital to provide a constant source of fresh water in other to guarantee your cat’s overall health.

Usually, following these tips will be enough to prevent dandruff from occurring. However, it can still occur because of other factors that might be out of your direct control. So don’t panic, but consult your vet on the best treatment approach and be persistent until the dandruff is gone.

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