My Greyhound has Dandruff: how to soothe skin, solve problems

Under the microscope, the difference is obvious!

If you’ve noticed flakes of dandruff on your greyhound, you’re not alone!  Due to their sensitive skin and thin coats, it’s not unusual for them to have a few flakes…but how much constitutes a problem?

If your greyhound has dandruff, it is often due to a lack of moisture. Humidifying the air and making sure the dog drinks more can ease the dryness which causes dandruff. Be careful not to confuse dandruff with mites or crusted discharge from a skin condition. 

In this article, I will show you the most common causes, as well as the most promising home remedies.  You’ll also learn when it might not be dandruff, and when you should contact the vet.

Bathing for Dandruff – Good or Bad?

Bathing, as a Cure

All mammals shed skin, also known as dander.  Dandruff occurs when dander builds up, instead of shedding gradually.  Brushing and careful bathing can help ease this build-up.

The most common time to see dandruff on your greyhound is when you get him home for the first time.  Bathing should be high on the to-do list for the new greyhound owner!  Kennel-care, as you can expect, is a bit different than home-care.  A kennel manager I know refers to it as “camp,” and I think that is a very true comparison – A little more free-wheeling, casual, and…well…dirty than home.  

Brush him thoroughly before bathing.  After your pup is clean and dry, don’t be dismayed if he suddenly is covered with dandruff – worse than ever – just an hour later!  This typically not new dandruff, but the rest of the build-up, working its way to the surface.  You can take him back outside and dust him off with a microfiber cloth.  Another effective technique is to run a strip of blue painter’s tape lightly over the surface of his coat, to grab and remove the flakes.

Bathing, as a Cause

On the other hand, sometimes the bathing becomes the cause of the dandruff.  Greyhounds need very little bathing.  Unlike most dogs, they do not usually have a double coat; so they shake off (literally) most dirt they encounter.  Too much bathing, therefore, can dry out a greyhound’s skin and cause dandruff.

Seasonal Causes for Greyhound Dandruff

Shedding: When it’s More than just Hair

When your greyhound “changes his coat” twice a year, he often flakes off quite a bit of skin, as well.  As I mentioned earlier, greyhounds do not need a lot of bathing.  Timing his bath with his seasonal shed will help him release that build-up of hair, dirt, and dander.  

Dry Air = Dry Skin

Dryness in the atmosphere is another problem that can occur seasonally.  In the Winter, your pup may get a double dose of dryness – One from the moisture-seeking blasts of Winter air; and another, indoors, from your household heat.  

Greyhounds especially love sleeping long hours in front of a wood-stove, which can dry the air yet further.  A great solution for this is to place a kettle of water on top of your stove.  People in your home will also benefit from this, as the steam moisturizes and soothes Winter-sore noses, throats, and sinuses.

The greyhound’s thin coat means that their skin is more exposed to the air and the weather than that of most breeds.  Because of this extra exposure, his skin is more likely to become dry and flakey.

A coat with a nylon outer shell will provide extra protection from the cold, in addition to keeping the wind off of your pet’s delicate skin.

Stress from Extreme Weather Conditions

Sometimes, repeated exposure to heat or cold can stress your greyhound’s system, making him more “flakey” than usual.  Protect him from extreme weather.  Keep him warm in the house.  Check outdoor temperatures before walks, and be sure he wears his coat in cold weather.  

This extra protection is good in wet weather, as well; and makes towelling him off, after his walk, much faster.  Remember, cold air seeks moisture, and will pull it from your greyhound’s skin, leaving it dry and flakey; so that’s another way his coat will protect him.  

Indoors, if you keep your home cool, your hound will love sleeping under a blanket, or even wearing a sweater.  Ironically, dry fabric can also pull moisture from your dog’s skin, so you may wish to explore some of the topical solutions, discussed later in this article.

Allergies – Dogs Get Hayfever, Too!

Even for dogs, seasonal pollen can get to be too much.  If he has other symptoms, such as itching, rubbing his eyes or ears, clear drainage from his eyes, or a drippy nose, he may have hayfever.  If you think there is a chance that your grey’s dandruff is caused by seasonal allergies, contact your vet for a solution.  In the meantime, you can give him a small amount of diphenhydramine.

An article over at the American Kennel Club’s website states that “veterinarians use diphenhydramine, commonly known by the brand name Benadryl, for dogs on a regular basis to treat allergies…”  

I have linked to that article below, for your reference, as they give dosage information.  Start with half of the low end of their dosing suggestion, as greyhounds can be sensitive to medications.  Be sure to use pills, as liquids can contain xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.  Be sure, also, that there aren’t any other drugs in the pill, such as decongestants or pain relievers.

Dandruff from Emotional Stress

If that title raises an eyebrow, consider that you may experience a dry throat when you are nervous, or find more hair coming out in your brush during stressful times.  Do not be surprised if you find an excess of dandruff and/or hair coming off of your pet after a vet visit, or overnight boarding. 

Dandruff from Food Allergies?

Not typically.  First, true allergies would not be so subtle.  Even a food intolerance would likely show more symptoms, in addition to dandruff.  He would be considerably uncomfortable; whereas his dandruff, alone, is likely to be more upsetting to you than it is to him. 

The nutritional problem more likely to cause dandruff would be a lack of moisture in his diet.  Be sure your hound gets at least a quart of water a day.

Are You Sure it’s Dandruff?

Those little white flakes could be tiny mites.  A better look, using a magnifying glass, could help you know for sure.  Even if you cannot distinguish a bug-like shape, study the flakes closely for movement.

I have had this happen a couple of times with one of my greyhounds, usually if I have lapsed on his flea-and-tick prevention. Once he gets the medication, the “flakes” go away.  Some of these mites are even known as “walking dandruff,” according to John G. Gordon, DVM, DACVD.

Another dandruff look-alike is crust.  Although they are similar in appearance, dandruff is dead skin; but crust is dried discharge, often of pus.  That is definitely something a vet should investigate.

Home Remedies for Dog Dandruff

Home treatments for your greyhound’s dandruff fall into four distinct categories:

  • environmental
  • supplements
  • shampoos
  • topical conditioners.

Environmental Remedies 

Perhaps his dandruff is not coming from inside of him, but from his environment.  Check you pal’s collar, coat, and anything else he wears, to see if it might be rubbing his skin dry, or wicking moisture from his body.  I love my greyhound’s crocheted, red sweater; but its wide stitches make it a poor choice for walking outdoors in my dry, windy area.  The breeze penetrates it, and dries out his skin.  Because of that, I usually save it for when he insists of laying out in the sun on a cold day, since my deck is sheltered from the wind. 

Add moisture to the air, as mentioned earlier in this article.  The heat from your furnace can be very drying.  Simmering a pan of water on your stove for half-an-hour can replace some of the lost moisture in your greyhound’s skin.

Dandruff-fighting Supplements

You can supplement his diet.  The favorite, across several sources of greyhound owners in-the-know, appears to be salmon oil.  

Owners who are concerned about the dog smelling fishy have had success with adding oatmeal to the dog’s food.  There is an additive, called Lintbells YuDERM Itching Dog, which several owners have found successful.  Coconut oil is also a popular, and versitile, addition to his diet.

Dandruff-busting Shampoos

“Bathing with an oatmeal-based shampoo in lukewarm water may help gently remove this dandruff while not overly drying the skin or coat,” states Laura Wilson, DVM, DACVD.  

A bath using ExmaRid Dog Shampoo is another solution, which has been found helpful.

Topical Conditioners Protect Against Dandruff 

With the addition of oil comes the concern of pancreatic problems.  You can avoid this by working oil into your dog’s coat, instead.  Ironically, too much oil can also cause dandruff,  so only use two or three drops.  Rub it into your hands, and then work it through your pup’s coat, down into his skin.   If this process becomes messy, or he’s able to shake any off, you have used too much.  

Coconut oil is good used this way, too, as is baby oil.  You can even use mineral oil, if you wish to avoid added fragrance.  Aloe vera is a wonderful conditioner for the skin, and contains no oil.

Sometimes, dandruff can be a vicious circle – The dog has a build-up of dirt and shed hair and skin. This build-up can actually irritate his skin, producing yet more dander. When your greyhound gets a good layer of this, it is known as “kennel coat (read about that here: ).”

When to See the Vet

Redness or discharge should be checked by the vet.  If your pet is scratching or seems uncomfortable, report his symptoms to the vet.  He may guide you to some things to try first, or he may want to have a look at him, “in person.”

If you have addressed the basic matters (discussed above) of seasonality, dryness, and diet; and your grey still has dandruff, it’s time for the vet to have a look.  Your dog may have a parasite that is not visible to you, or he may have an infection or other skin condition.  Upon diagnosis, your vet may set you up with a prescription cream or wash that will address the problem.  The dandruff might even be a sign of an underlying condition; so even if it’s not causing any problems or discomfort, be sure to bring it up at your hound’s next check-up.

Resources for Further Info

The AKC on using diphenhydramine for a dog:

More from Dr. Wilson on dandruff, and what the vet might look for:

Dr. Gordon outlines Cheyletiellosis, caused by mites:

Gail McGaffigan

The owner of the Greyhound Homecare website and YouTube channel, Gail has had retired racing greyhounds as pets since 1997. Please visit our channel, too!

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