Can Dandruff Be a Sign of Stress in Puppies?

by Pamela Meadors
    Pay attention to any changes in your puppy's coat condition.

    Pay attention to any changes in your puppy's coat condition.

    Russell Illig/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Puppyhood is a time for exploring, learning and playing. As a pet parent, you want to make sure your puppy grows up to be a healthy dog. Paying attention to changes in diet and behavior during this stage can be helpful in staving off unhealthy skin conditions. Dandruff is not only uncomfortable for your puppy, but may be a symptom of an underlying heath problem, or a needed change in environment.

    Dandruff is a Common Skin Condition

    The excessive shedding of skin cells, called dandruff, is a common condition among many species. Like people, puppies suffering from dandruff can become itchy and uncomfortable. Left untreated, puppies may start scratching and licking or even pulling out tufts of fur.

    Causes of Dandruff

    A small amount of dandruff is normal for puppies under 4 months of age because the glands responsible for lubricating skin (sebaceous glands) are not fully developed. However, if the dandruff seems excessive or persistent, it can be a sign of stress, dehydration, parasites, overbathing or a dry environment. All breeds, including those labelled "hypoallergenic," are susceptible.

    Stress and Dandruff

    Between learning commands, getting housebroken and exploring new surroundings, being a puppy can be stressful! Puppies in overcrowded environments can also experience stress and may not be getting proper nutrition and hydration, which is necessary for maintaining skin and coat health. A calm, clean home environment can go a long way towards raising a healthy puppy.

    Maintaining Skin and Coat Health

    Fortunately, dandruff is treatable and, in otherwise healthy puppies, has no long-term health effects. Feeding high-quality puppy food and plenty of fresh water is essential. Ensuring your puppy has a safe, clean and calm environment can reduce stress. A veterinarian can examine your puppy, test for possible parasites or underlying health problems and, if necessary, suggest specially formulated shampoos or medications to calm the skin, prevent scratching or biting, and make puppyhood fun again.

    Photo Credits

    • Russell Illig/Photodisc/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Pamela Meadors is a scientist, writer, avid traveler and animal advocate. In addition to earning a Bachelor of Science in biology, she has worked in the veterinary field at various clinics throughout the United States since 1997.

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