Cat Dandruff: Is It Something to Worry About?
Dandruff is a pesky skin issue that everyone could do without, that is why it is quite unfortunate that our feline companions suffer the same condition from time to time. Since we can readily grasp the concept of dandruff in humans, the severity of this condition in cats sometimes poses as a mystery. Is this something one should be alarmed by, or is your cat one in a million who get riddled with this? Everything from how to identify dandruff in cats to some helpful remedies will be made available here, for your benefit and mostly your cat’s.
Understanding Cat Dandruff
In one way or the other, most people can grasp the concept of dandruff, but understanding the condition in cats is a tad bit different. In general, it is useful to know that dandruff occurs when dry or dead skin cells manifest and continually flake from your pet’s fur. This is not only annoying because it flakes everywhere, but it is also quite uncomfortable. In most cases, it comes with unbearable itching as well as unattractive skin irritations.
It often does not end there, having dandruff usually comes hand in hand with a stigma. For humans, it is sometimes viewed as a cleanliness issue and as such, no one wants to be riddled with it. Cats, on the other hand, do not seem to mind when the pesky flakes get everywhere. Nevertheless, most pet owners everywhere would agree that it is equally unpleasant. What does tend to bother your feline companion is that fact that it can get extremely itchy, and you best believe they will not hold back with the scratching. This could cause some serious injuries that could aggravate the situation further. Based on this, it is evident that the situation should not be allowed to get out of hand.
Though this all sounds as horrible as can be, it is paramount that pet owners remain calm in the case that their pet starts experiencing such distress. A bit of dandruff now and then never really hurt anyone, both humans and felines alike. It is hardly a life-threatening situation, but that is equally no excuse for complacency.
Once dandruff is actually identified as the reason for your pet’s discomfort then it is very important that you figure out exactly what is causing it. Once the root cause is identified, then half the problem is practically solved. When dandruff begins to show up more frequently, that is most probably an indicator for you to do something about it.
With a better understanding of the total dandruff situation, the most logical step is to learn how to identify it so you do not mistake it for cat dander, seborrhea dermatitis or simply just fleas.
Symptoms of Cat Dandruff
Dandruff in cats is a lot more common than you think and most times it can be found on the back, or towards the rear area of the cat. So as to be sure that this is what your pet is experiencing, it is paramount that cat owners understand what the most common signs and symptoms are. It is not that hard considering that these symptoms closely relate those found in humans with the same condition, nevertheless, let’s delve right in.
- Flaky Skin
This is the most obvious and noticeable symptom of them all. If your cat has those flakes following him/her where ever they go, then chances are they are being plagued by some good old dandruff. It is even more evident in the case that your cat has dark fur, because of the contrast, you should easily be able to identify when dandruff that is falling off. In the case that they have lighter fur or even thicker fur and you suspect that they are riddled with dandruff, then you may have to part it to see the flaking skin. In a nutshell, flaking skin usually points to dandruff.
- Irritated Patches
When dandruff moves to the next level, your cat could start manifesting some red patches of irritated skin. These red patches often become inflamed as a result of the non-stop itching and licking done by your pet. This is something that pet owners need to be wary of, once the itching and full-on scratching become excessive, it can cause the skin to break. Once this happens, your kitty is susceptible to infections.
- Hair loss
Now, this is a secondary symptom, but it is nonetheless unpleasant. As a result of all the itching, scratching and licking can lead to the development of bald patches and all-around hair loss. Not only is this aesthetically unpleasing, but at this point, you know that your pet is experiencing a lot of discomforts. Once it reaches this point, it is imperative that you figure out what is causing all the damage. If not, it could be the start of skin damage and further infection.
- Scaly Patches
The aftermath of the whole ordeal usually comes in form of thickened, hard or even scaly patches of some dried up skin. This usually comes hand in hand with a large amount of flaky skin.
Root Causes of Dandruff
Like most irritations and flare-ups, dandruff does not just materialize on its own. There are a number of reasons why your pet could be experiencing this problem. A few of them are:
Water does a whole lot for all living organisms and in that same vein, lack of water has diverse effects on them too. Once you notice that your cats have dandruff, one of the main things it points to is dehydration. Check their water intake on a regular basis so that it will not result in dry skin, which in turn leads to dandruff.
This is something pet owners who live in dry areas really need to be on the lookout for; dehydration can occur much quicker than you can imagine. Dandruff is a small issue in the grand scale of things compared to other health issues that are linked to dehydration. As such, keep trying to get your pet to drink enough water for their general wellbeing.
Obesity and being overweight comes with a whole range of other issues and one of them is dandruff in cats. Though chubby cats can be extremely cute, there are a whole lot of health issues that come with being chubby that are not as cute.
Dandruff in overweight cats is mostly as a result of poor grooming. Cats depend on their flexibility to be able to groom themselves properly and as such, they may lag behind when they are overweight. Obesity in cats also leads to diabetes and guess what? Diabetes also causes dandruff. So, keep it in mind that a lean and healthy cat has better chances all-around.
Diet is something that affects every area of our lives and those of our pets. Top quality cat food is bound to be loaded with nutrients such as Omega 3 oils and this help to maintain healthy skin and hide. Once dandruff shows up, it is evident that your pet is not receiving the adequate nutrients he/she needs to maintain good skin. Keeping your pet’s diet in check is one way to ensure that they do not end up having dandruff and a range of other health conditions that are linked to diet.
- Other Causes
There are a number of other causes and some of them are food and environmental allergies, external parasites, fungal infections, feline lymphoma, sunburns, and anxiety.
Cat Dandruff Remedies
Dandruff is not the most serious issue in the world, but there is no doubt that it is irritating and should not be ignored. Tests should be carried out in order to rule out serious root causes because in a number of cases dandruff shows up as a symptom of other health-related issues. In order to prevent long term consequences, be sensitive to the signs that your pet’s body is giving you. It is a totally treatable condition and it is wise for pet owners to get right to it once it shows up. Based on that, here are a few things that can be done to get rid of it.
First, you need to make sure that you know exactly what the root cause is, that way you do not begin random treatments that could cause more harm than good in the long run.
Dandruff Due To
- Fungal infections
The best treatment for this is medicated shampoo as recommended by your vet.
Their bedding and accessories need to be washed and sterilized. All other pets also need to be treated for fleas.
When the root cause is as a result of sunburns then the best route of treatment is an oral or topical steroid as prescribed by your vet.
In the case of food allergies, the remedy is quite straightforward, you need to switch up their diet. In the case of environmental allergies, your vet may also prescribe antihistamines or steroids which will alleviate the irritation while your cat’s body resets.
Preventing Cat Dandruff
Prevention they say is better than cure, as such there are a number of ways to ensure that your pet does not fall prey to dandruff. In the case that your pet just got treated for dandruff, these measures are also quite useful so the condition does not reoccur.
- Proper Grooming
Cats naturally groom themselves on a regular basis, that does not mean you should not schedule regular grooming for your cat. First and foremost, brush their fur regularly. It helps in more way than one but it mostly helps by stimulating the production of natural oils in your cat’s coat thus guarding against dry skin. You can also take your cat to the groomers once in a while, they have a lime sulfur dip that really helps.
Cats may not like water very much, but it is a necessary evil that they have to deal with. They may not enjoy bathtime in any way, but that ordeal will save them from dandruff and other skin issues in the long run. Since they groom on a regular basis, bathing may only be something you need to do once in a couple of months. While bathing them, using natural, the anti-dandruff shampoo will go a long way.
On the same note, do not get too over excited with the bathing issue. It tends to dry out the skin since you are washing away their natural oils and not giving them time to be secreted all over again. This can cause the skin to even dry out further.
In order to supplement the oils that are not being secreted, supplements like coconut and olive oil can do wonders for your pet. Rubbing them in is not the way to go through, as this will grease them up and cause more dandruff. Rather, you should add it to their food because it is an avenue for them to receive healthy fatty acids which will altogether make their skin more healthy.
Do not proceed with this method without consulting your vet though. Both these oils are concentrated with high quantities of fat. So, in order to get it right, consult your vet regarding the exact dosage.
This literally cannot be stressed enough. It is one of the most effective ways to ensure that your cat stays dandruff free. Make sure that they always have access to a fresh and clean water source. Do not only increase their access but also make sure they drink water regularly. In addition to all this, keep them out of the sun for extended periods of time. Provide shady areas for them and keep them there if you cannot keep them indoors that frequently.
Monitor them at the times of the day when the sun is at its highest and endeavor to keep them indoors then. Another great way to keep them hydrated is by adding a good quality cat food to their diet.