Seborrhea in dogs, also known as dog seborrheic dermatitis, is a common skin disorder related to the sebaceous glands under your dog’s skin. These glands secrete a substance known as sebum to help lubricate and protect skin and hair, but excessive amounts of sebum can cause your dog’s skin to become scaly, itchy, greasy, or flakey. In this guide, we’ll cover the types, symptoms, causes, and treatment of canine seborrhea to help you determine the best course of action for your pet.
What are the Symptoms of Seborrhea in Dogs?
There are two common forms of seborrhea in dogs, known as seborrhea oleosa (oily seborrhea) and seborrhea sicca (dry seborrhea). In cases of seborrhea in dogs, it’s common to see a combination of these two types.
The most affected areas of the body are those with a high number of sebaceous glands, such as the back, face, and flanks. Look in those areas for flakey and dry skin (dandruff) or any signs of scales, itchiness, or redness. It’s also common to notice a foul smell or odor, which is caused by the bacterial breakdown of excessive sebum. Secondary infections can worsen this smell.
Causes of Seborrhea in Dogs
Canine seborrhea can be identified as either a primary or secondary disorder. Primary instances are inherited genetically and usually affect animals within the first two years of life. Inherited seborrhea is most common in Basset Hounds, Dachshunds, Labrador and Golden Retrievers, West Highland White Terriers, American Cocker Spaniels, and English Springer Spaniels.
More often, seborrheic dermatitis in dogs is a secondary condition, meaning it is caused by an underlying issue or disease. Common causes include allergies, endocrine disorders, dietary deficiencies, malabsorption disorders, parasites, or autoimmune disorders. Your vet should examine the symptoms your dog exhibits to identify the true underlying cause.
Canine Seborrhea Treatment
The presence of additional bacteria and the tendency for dogs to scratch or chew at affected areas can lead to secondary bacterial or yeast infections, so it’s important to identify the underlying cause of your dog’s seborrhea in order to seek proper care. Once a cause has been determined, there are several options you can try for your dog’s seborrhea treatment:
- Medicated Shampoo: Bathe your dog twice a week for two weeks with a medicated shampoo, then weekly until the condition is under control. This shampoo combines benzoyl peroxide and micronized sulfur to hydrate skin while relieving irritation.
- Topical Spray: Use a topical spray daily in the affected areas to kill yeast and bacteria. This works well in concert with the shampoo since that can only be used twice a week.
- Antibiotics: Secondary infections are commonly treated with antibiotics. Cephalexin is a good option to treat bacteria as the topical spray handles yeast. Remember that you will need a prescription from your veterinarian before purchasing antibiotics for your dog.
- Supplement: Seborrhea can make it difficult for healthy skin and hair growth to come in, but a supplement can help. To promote healthy skin and coat from the inside out, try Doc Roy’s® Derma Coat Plus. Derma Coat will add the micro essentials and antioxidants to help grow and maintain healthy skin. A healthy coat and soft skin will also help reduce the likelihood of the issue recurring in the future.
Now that you know more about the causes and signs of seborrhea in dogs, we hope you’re more prepared to identify these symptoms if your dog presents them. As always, we recommend contacting your veterinarian for diagnosis, treatment recommendations, or immediate medical attention. For other questions about our products, contact our Pet Care Pros at 800.786.4751 for assistance.
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Written by: Donald Bramlage, DVM
Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, practiced veterinary medicine for 30+ years and is known for his work in managing parvovirus. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Kansas State University in 1985. He served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services from 2011 until his retirement in 2019.