What Causes Flaky Skin on Dogs?


As pet owners, I’m sure we have all noticed white flakes on our dog’s skin and fur. There are many different causes of flakey skin and dogs and it’s important to understand them so you can help your pet that is dealing with this. In this article, we will explain some of the main reasons why your dog’s skin is flakey and help you determine when you should seek veterinary care.

flakey skin on dogs

What does Flaky Skin on Dogs Look Like?

Before we can understand the exact causes, we need to know what a dry and flaky skin looks like on dogs. Usually, when a dog has flaky skin, this means they scratch and shed a lot of dandruff or dead skin. These flakes can be the same color as their skin, but sometimes is mixed with dirt or blood.

If there is blood in your dog’s flaky skin, this means they have been scratching for too long and drawing blood. It’s good to try and prevent your dog from harming themselves. Trim your dog’s nails can help prevent them from traumatizing their skin.

Causes of Flaky Skin

There are many different reasons why dog’s skin is flaking.

Listed below are common causes of flaky skin in dogs to consider next time you notice chunks of dry skin.


Dandruff is usually what the flaky white skin is on your dog. Dandruff happens when your dog’s skin starts to overproduce and begins to shed the dead skin. When your dog’s skin is constantly shedding, this means that the body is overproducing skin quicker than it can get rid of it. Possible causes of this include allergies or infections.

Environmental/Skin Allergies

As stated previously, flaky and dry skin can be a symptom of skin allergies. When an allergen irritates a dog’s skin, this can cause the skin to dry and flake. This can make your dog feel uncomfortable and even painful. However, if the allergic reactions doesn’t stop even after the allergen is no longer in the same room, this is a sign medication and other treatments may be necessary.

Skin Infection

Skin infections can cause flakey and dry skin and preventing these infections is a must! When your dog’s skin is infected, this means that bacteria has entered a wound somewhere and is reacting negatively in your dog’s body. It isn’t uncommon for the infected area to dry and redden. As the area dries though, this could make the skin start flaking and peeling.

Dry Skin

Some dogs simply have naturally dry skin. This can be due to the shampoo that is used to bathe them or too much exposure to the sun. Drying shampoos that use acidic ingredients can cause your dog’s skin to further dry and flake.

Fleas and Ticks

Did you know that fleas and ticks also cause flaky and dry skin? As your dog’s skin reacts to these parasitic bugs, their skin reddens, causing flake and bumps. This becomes worse as dog’s instinctively try and scratch for relief. The more that your dog scratches at these areas, the higher chance they have at hurting their own skin instead of getting rid of the fleas and ticks. Bathing your dog can help, however, consulting with your veterinarian can help you provide with the best options to treat and prevent a flea or tick infestation. Know that fleas and ticks can become a pest and, oftentimes, it is recommended to treat the home to ensure proper removal of these parasites.

Treating Dry and Flaky Dog Skin

It can be difficult to treat dry skin on dogs. While it’s good to add moisture, if you add too much, this can cause an infection. Instead, it is better to find the exact cause. However, if you are having trouble determining the cause behind your dog’s flaky skin, it may be easier to bring your dog to the vet for evaluation and testing.

See a Vet if Your Dog Has Flakey Skin

All in all, flaky dog skin is never fun! Thankfully though, the causes are usually simple and treatable. Take your pet to the vet if you notice abnormal changes to their health, including their skin and coat! If not, a small flaking problem can become more serious if it spreads into an infection.

Contact our team at Orlando Vets if you have any questions or need to schedule an appointment. Your pet’s health is very important to us, and our compassionate veterinarians are always happy to help!

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