Seborrheic Dermatitis in Dogs

If baths seem to do nothing against your dog's odor, or they just can't seem to stop itching, they may be suffering from a skin condition such as seborrheic dermatitis.

Seborrheic Dermatitis in Dogs

Seborrheic dermatitis is a fairly common skin condition in both humans and dogs. Most often, when you just can't seem to get rid of your dog's smell, he's suffering from seborrheic dermatitis or something akin to it.

Seborrheic dermatitis originates around large oil glands and symptoms show up slowly. Most starts out around the face, scalp and ears. The problem with dogs and any skin disorder is that dogs just don't know when to stop scratching. All that scratching, biting and licking can make their condition a lot worse very quickly. This can result in inflamed and infected skin.

Seborrheic dermatitis is a branch of Seborrhea. Seborrhea sicca is the "dry form" of seborrhea, wherein your dog's skin will be flaky, dry and scaly. Seborrhea oleosa is the cause of greasy, smelly dogs, whose skin is over-producing oil. Meanwhile, seborrheic dermatitis is a combination of seborrhea sicca and seborrhea oleosa and will display symptoms of both.

Symptoms of Seborrheic Dermatitis

During earliest stages, seborrheic dermatitis is very easy to mistake for your every day, run-of-the-mill dandruff. Some other signs you might start to notice:

  • Greasy, oily coat
  • Foul odor
  • Scaly skin
  • Dandruff like flakes
  • Inflammation
  • Possible infection
  • Dry, brittle nails

Causes of Seborrheic Dermatitis

As with most skin conditions, it's easier to diagnose the condition rather then the underlying cause.

  • Primary seborrhea is a genetic condition. In these cases, the epidermis (outer layer of the skin), the hair follicles and sebaceous glands have a higher than normal production rate. This causes all that extra, flaky skin and an excess of oils.
  • Secondary seborrhea is more a result of an underlying cause, rather than a problem with the skin itself. This is much more common in elderly dogs.
  • Seborrhea is often a result of your dog not getting enough nutrients.

Seborrheic Dermatitis Treatment

First things first, you'll want to try a special shampoo for your dog. It greatly helps if you know what type of seborrhea your pet is suffering from. Ask your vet, or even take a trip to your local pet store to view their selection. Shampoos are a quick, however temporary, fix. You'll want to go after the cause of the skin condition to keep it from happening over and over again.

Because most cases of seborrheic dermatitis are a result of lacking nutrients, try getting some liquid form or pill form Omega 3 fatty acids from your pet store. Vitamins C, E and A are also extremely beneficial to treating skin and fur conditions.

Note that if you have a dog with a very thick coat, you might want to consider trimming them down while treating them. Refrain from shaving them close to the skin, though; their skin is already irritated and you don't want to risk making it worse.


Let untreated, seborrheic dermatitis can cause a lot of problematic infections in your dog. However, it's easy to diagnose and treat. When the issue is treated and under control, your dog will be much happier without his smelly, flaky skin.