Cat Dandruff: 5 Simple Solutions for Your Cat's Dry Skin

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10 Minute Read
Updated April 21, 2021

Does your cat have a bad case of dandruff? Dandruff and dry skin problems can leave your cat feeling itchy and uncomfortable, not to mention increasing the spread of dander and shedding in your home. Keep your cat happy and healthy with our top cat dandruff solutions.

My cat has dandruff, why does my cat have dandruff? As it turns out, cat dry skin and dandruff are persistent and can lead to more serious skin problems if you don't find the cause and treat it. Your cat's delicate skin can be affected by a variety of internal and external factors, so no one cat dander treatment will work for all cat dandruff.

While a quick wash with Head and Shoulders might work for your dandruff, treating your cat's dandruff may require a little more effort. Find out more about what's causing your cat's dandruff, and how to rejuvenate her beautiful skin and coat to its former glory, natural oils, and all. 

 

What is Cat Dandruff

To help you rid your cat of dry, flaky skin problems, we first need to look at what it is. So, what is cat dandruff?

We use the term dandruff pretty loosely. It can range from mild flaky skin to irritating sores and rashes. More serious cases of dandruff are usually caused by Seborrhea, which is when the Sebaceous glands in their skin that produce protective, natural oils, start to produce way too much.

From dandruff on cats' backs near the tail to their tender bellies - feline dandruff and skin problems can pop up almost anywhere. In fact, your cat may even be suffering from a health condition or fungal infection!

This can be identified by a greasy or oil appearance to dandruff and skin. Over-production of these natural oils can interfere with natural shedding, alters the pH balance of their skin, and create an ideal environment for bacteria or fungus to produce. Talk to your vet to diagnose and manage this condition safely. 

More commonly, what we refer to as dandruff is simply patches of dry skin. Dry skin tends to be itchy, but will not produce the same extreme symptoms as Seborrhea if treated properly. Further skin problems can be caused by your cat scratching, licking, or over-grooming the areas to try to soothe their itch and discomfort. 

If your cat's skin is showing signs of dandruff in the form of white flakes, hair loss, and itchy skin, it's important to find out what you can do to condition and support her skin to prevent symptoms from worsening skin problems. 

 

Why Does My Cat Have Dandruff?

There is no one cause of dandruff in cats, so finding the root cause for your cat's flaky skin may require a little bit of trial and error. As we noted above, dandruff is the result of abnormal production of natural skin oils that create an environment suitable for bacteria and fungus to thrive, so rebalancing your cat's skin pH and eliminating bacteria and fungus can help you ditch dandruff for good.

So what is causing your cat's skin to freak out in the first place? Once you identify the cause of your cat's dandruff, then you can treat the issues and prevent dandruff from coming back. Here are some of the most common causes of poor skin health in cats:

    • Poor Quality Diet
    • Dehydration
    • Pollutants
    • Over Bathing
    • Bug Bites
    • Illness or Disease

If you suspect your cat has an ailment or disease that is causing dandruff, then it's important that you speak to your vet about the best treatment. Home remedies can be effective in some cases, but it's always best to seek proper diagnoses and treatment from your vet before you start treating the issue at home. 


How to Get Rid of Cat Dandruff

To help reduce symptoms and lessen discomfort, there are some things you can do from home to help treat your cat’s dandruff, even if they regularly suffer skin infections. Let’s look at the 5 most common solutions for ditching cat dandruff:

Moisture - Inside and Out

Moisture

When dealing with any type of dry skin, it’s always more effective to treat the skin from the inside out. Cats notoriously drink very little water compared to what they need.

In the wild, cats would get most of their moisture from their food. As many domesticated cats eat dry kibble diets, it’s common for them to live in a state of mild dehydration for a long time.

This lack of moisture can cause your cat's dry skin, limit healthy oil production, and contribute to inflammation that can cause itchiness.

Solution

You can try encouraging them to drink more by switching from a boring old water dish to a filtered fountain. Check out all the benefits of Cat Water Fountains.

If this doesn't work, try to find ways to add more liquid to your cat’s diet. Try incorporating wet foods, switch to a raw diet, or add water, bone broth, or goat’s milk to your cat’s regular meals. Many of these can be fed as a side dish, or even as a treat, too.

The texture is important to cats, so you may have to try a few methods until you find which ones your cat appreciates. She may not appreciate the watery texture of bone broth, but a thick pate style wet food may just wet her whistle.

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Natural and Balanced Diet

Diet

The quality of your cat’s food can have a drastic effect on how their bodies are able to digest and use nutrients. Poor quality foods, foods cooked at extreme temperatures, and those that use heavily rendered ingredients offer limited nutrition compared to whole, natural, and minimally processed ingredients.

High heat cooking methods and ingredients that have been rendered down to pieces of the original food product are often lacking nutrition. These deficiencies can quickly influence skin and coat health.

Solution

Look for foods that use fresh, real food ingredients. Raw is a great example of a high-quality diet that offers highly digestible nutrients to support all the systems in your cat’s body.

If raw isn’t your thing, then look for foods that limit synthetic additives, and offer nutrition from nutrient-dense ingredients like fresh meats, organs, and produce. Try to avoid carb-heavy diets for cats. After all, they are carnivores and are best at getting nutrients from animal protein. 

Here are a few of our favourite natural brands for cats:

Another way to promote healthier skin and coat and reduce cat dandruff and dander is to look for foods that add fish oils and other omega 3 fatty acids. You can also add them yourself, too. Look for wild-caught fish oils like salmon, cod liver, and sardines.

 

Appropriate Grooming

brushing grooming cat

Cats are generally meticulous groomers, but you can help by brushing your cat regularly. Brushing helps to remove dead fur and skin. Regular brushing also massages the skin, stimulating blood flow and encouraging appropriate oil production from their sebaceous glands.

Bathing is required much less frequently in cats than in dogs. This is partly because dogs often don’t mind being a little dirty, but also because cats have more sensitive skin. Over bathing your cat can limit healthy oil production and alter their skin’s pH balance.

Solution

Most cats enjoy being brushed, so it’s often a quick and stress-free routine. Try to brush your cat a couple of times per week with a simple slicker brush for best results.

Avoid bathing your cat too frequently. Aim for no more than once every 6 weeks unless it’s necessary. If you do need to bathe or spot clean, stick to just warm water and a pinch of baking soda. Many cat shampoos have fragrances and chemicals that can further dry their skin.

Shop Cat Brushes & Combs

 

Environment

Environment

Cats are very sensitive to their environments. Skin and coat issues are often exacerbated by chemicals and poor air quality. Things like cigarette smoke, chemical cleaners, air fresheners, and even perfumes can irritate their skin.

Humidity is also a factor. Just like our own skin, seasonal changes and extreme climates can upset your cat’s sensitive skin. Heaters, furnaces, fireplaces, and hot arid climates all suck moisture from your cat.

Solution

Avoid using harsh chemicals around your cat and make sure your house is well ventilated. An air purifier is an excellent option for small spaces, especially over winter when our windows stay closed 24/7.

If your home is very dry, then look at getting a humidifier to help put some moisture back into your cat’s environment. This can help to eliminate cat dandruff and aid in maintaining their body temperature.

 

Pests

Pests

Your cat’s dandruff might not be related to their health at all. Talk to your vet to make sure your cat isn’t being plagued by some unwelcome intruders that are causing her skin issues. Pest activity and debris can sometimes be mistaken for dandruff.

Fleas and ticks are the most common pests, and the easiest to spot. Talk to your vet to help identify pest activity at the earliest signs. Other pests you should talk to your vet about include lice and mites. The good news is you can easily protect your pets from most of these pests with products like Bayer Advantage II

One of the more disturbing and icky pests that are commonly mistaken for dandruff is called Cheyletiella Mites. They are commonly referred to as walking dandruff. They are larger than typical mites and tend to cause lots of flaky skin. They move around on the surface of your cat’s skin, which gives the skin flakes the appearance of movement - hence the nickname.

Solution

It’s important to regularly check your cat for signs of infestation. Routine grooming and regular vet check-ups can help you catch problems early and treat them quickly. Be preventative when it comes to pests. Some flea and tick treatments can help to deter infestations year-round. 

Here are a few helpful resources to help you keep a lookout for pest activity:

Bayer Advantage II

4 Natural Home Remedies for Cat Dandruff

When it comes to treating dandruff, you should always start by identifying the cause,  but once you know the reason for your cat's dandruff, you can start to treat the symptoms so your cat can heal faster and stay comfortable.

Here are some of our top natural solutions for treating the symptoms of cat dandruff:

1. Thrive Silver Shield 

Colloidal silver is a natural anti-fungal, and anti-microbial to help reduce itch and support healing. Thrive Silver Shield is a quick and easy topical spray to treat itch and irritation.

2. Baie Run Coconut Oil

Another natural anti-fungal treatment for your cat's skin is coconut oil. Baie Run Coconut Oil is made from organic, cold-pressed coconut oil for a pure and natural topical solution for your cat's dry skin.

3. Adored Beast Apothecary Love Bugs

Digestion is the core of your cat's health, so maintaining a good balance of healthy bacteria in your cat's gut is a great way to keep her skin healthy from the inside out. Love Bugs is a blend of pre and probiotics to support digestion and overall health.

4. Skout's Honor Probiotic Itch Relief Spray

To handle the aggravating itch that comes along with dry cat skin and dandruff, Skout's Honor Probiotic Itch Relief Spray uses healthy bacteria to counteract the bacteria that is driving your kitty nuts. 

Take Back Control of Your Cat's Skin

There are a lot of reasons your cat might have dandruff, but with the right treatment, you should be able to get back your cat’s beautiful, luxurious coat. Just remember:

    • Cats need more liquid in their diet than you think. Get creative and find more ways to moisten up her food.
    • Stick to natural foods with real ingredients. They offer the most usable nutrients to support your cat’s skin and coat.
    • Cats are natural groomers, so for the most part, try not to interfere with her regular bathing rituals.
    • Brushing away dead skin and fur will have a positive effect.
    • Cats need fresh air. Try to avoid polluting her air with chemicals and smoke.
    • Check for pests every time you brush her, and make sure you talk to your vet about preventative treatments for pest control.

Now that you know why your cat has dandruff, you can start to treat it. Correcting imbalances in their skin takes time, so give each change or treatment a chance to work. If dandruff symptoms are getting worse, then it’s time to ask the vet for advice.

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Does your cat suffer from dandruff or dry skin? Let us know your tips for ditching cat dandruff in the comments below!

Written by

Krystn Janisse

Krystn is a passionate pet nutrition enthusiast. She has worked in the pet industry for over a decade and loves to share her passion for animal welfare with others. She loves all animals but is currently channeling some crazy cat lady vibes with her four lovable, but rebellious cats.

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