Understanding Cat Dandruff

Cat dandruff is a condition in which your pet sheds dead skin at an excessive rate. Not to be confused with cat dander, which is a normal process that involves your pet discarding dead skin cells, cat dandruff is not commonly associated with human allergies. However, it may signal a health condition that requires your attention and treatment.

Causes of Cat Dandruff

There are a number of potential causes of excessive cat dandruff. Typically, parasite infestations are the most common of these conditions, although your pet may experience dandruff as a result of other skin conditions as well. Infections, cancer and systemic diseases may contribute to cat dandruff. Obesity is another health condition that frequently leads to feline dandruff problems, and allergies can contribute too. Sunburns and a dry atmosphere may exacerbate existing dandruff, or may serve as the primary cause of the condition.

Symptoms of Cat Dandruff

The primary symptom of cat dandruff is excessive shedding of skin. You may notice flakes of skin on your pet's fur or around his bedding. Pets with dandruff tend to have skin that is dry to the touch, and you may notice some irritation or other signs of dryness. Your cat may also experience itchiness, and may spend an unusual amount of time scratching his skin. This contributes to the shedding as well, and may also make your pet more uncomfortable in the long run.

Diagnosing and Treating Cat Dandruff

If you notice an abnormally large quantity of cat dander around your home, or if your pet seems to display any of the symptoms listed above, schedule an appointment with a veterinarian in order to have your cat examined. The vet will diagnose the condition by conducting a thorough physical analysis. He'll look not only for signs of dandruff, but also for potential symptoms or warning signs that may indicate a serious underlying medical condition.

If your vet suspects that your cat may be suffering from dandruff as a result of parasites of some kind, such as mites, fleas or ticks, he may schedule a skin sample test. This test requires that your vet take a small skin scraping for examination under a microscope. It is a quick and painless test that can be completed in a routine trip to the vet's office.

After diagnosing the cause of your pet's dandruff, your veterinarian will recommend a treatment plan accordingly. For allergy-related dandruff, it's important to determine the source of your pet's allergy so that you can remove the offending allergen from his environment. For obese cats, a weight loss diet and exercise program can help to clear up dandruff. If your pet suffers from dry skin in the house, you may wish to install a humidifier. Finally, there are prescription anti-dandruff shampoos that you can use to help address the issue. These shampoos are designed specifically for cats, and it is important that you not use a human anti-dandruff shampoo for your pet.

If you have any other questions or concerns about your pet's dandruff, or if your pet's symptoms don't clear up within 2 weeks of initial treatment, consult with a veterinarian.