Many puppies seem to have more dandruff or dry, flaky skin than would be expected. This is quite normal in puppies and is especially noted in those with dark coat colors. This is simply because the dander becomes quite visible against the dark hair. In most puppies, especially those less than four months of age, the normal lubricating glands (sebaceous glands) of the skin tend to be underactive. As these glands mature, their lubrication output increases to match the needs of the coat. Factors such as dry air (low humidity) will also contribute to dander production. Dander is dry, dead skin that in the absence of moisture will flake away and be visible as white flakes. This 'flaking' may also be itchy.
What are the symptoms?
The only symptoms are the white skin flakes most pronounced about the neck, back, and rump areas. The flaking process may create a mild itching much like humans experience from dry, flaky skin.
What are the risks?
There are no real risks other than hair loss. This, however, is rare. Severe flakiness or hair loss should not be considered normal dandruff production and an examination of the skin should be done. If the itching is intense, suspect other factors such as fleas, lice, or mange mites.
What is the management?
Fatty acid supplements such as Drs. Foster & Smith Vitacaps or Vitacoat work well at supplying needed oils for the hair coat. Oatmeal shampoos followed by a moisturizing rinse will help keep the oils in, cleanse the skin, and remove the dander.