Canine Seborrhea

Canine seborrhea is a common skin condition that causes oily greasy skin or dry skin in dogs. The dog's skin is flaky, the haircoat is dry with a bad odor. This page looks at the signs and symptoms, possible causes, and conventional treatment for seborrhea in dogs. It also shows you how to use natural diet and remedies to relieve the symptoms and strengthen the dog's immune system.

Seborrhea is a term that is used for any form of skin disease characterized by dry or greasy, itchy or inflamed skin, which is excessively flaky.

Canine seborrhea can be catergorized into three types:

  1. Seborrhea sicca - "Dry seborrhea" which shows scaliness only.
  2. Seborrhea oleosa - "Oily seborrhea" which not only shows scaliness but also greasy skin with a distinct odor, due to excessive oil production by the skin.
  3. Seborrheic dermatitis - Greasy and flaky skin accompanied by inflammation.

Many dogs suffer from a combination of "oily" and "dry" seborrhea.


Why do Dogs with Seborrhea have Flaky Skin?

The flakes that we see on dogs with seborrhea are dead scales (dead skin cells). In a normal dog, the cycle of dead cells being replaced by new skin cells is about 3 weeks. In dogs with seborrhea, however, this cycle is greatly accelerated and takes only a few days. As a result, there is an accumulation of dead skin cells on the skin surface.

Detailed Information on Canine Seborrhea

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Signs and Symptoms of Canine Seborrhea

Besides the typical signs of scaliness, your dog may show some of these symptoms:

  • Greasy hair.
  • Distinctive unpleasant smell.
  • The dog's skin may appear red (especially when inflammed).
  • The dog's ear may be red, itchy, painful, and inflamed.
  • The dog will lick and scratch incessantly.

Causes of Seborrhea in Dogs

Canine seborrhea can be primary idiopathic seborrhea which is hereditary and is most commonly seen in certain breeds, including the Spaniels (American Cocker Spaniels and English Springer Spaniels), Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, West Highland White Terriers, Basset Hounds, Irish Setters, and Shar-peis.

Seborrhea in dogs can also be secondary seborrhea which is as a result of other underlying diseases, such as:

If you suspect your dog has seborrhea, it is important that you ask your vet to do tests to see if your dog is suffering from any of the health problems that may cause the skin problem. For older dogs, it is strongly advised that you ask your vet to check the dog's thyroid levels. A lot of skin problems in older dogs are caused by hypothyroidism.

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Conventional Treatment

Canine Seborrhea Secondary seborrhea can be cured by tackling the underlying cause and controlling the symptoms of the skin condition.

Primary seborrhea is very difficult to cure; it can only be controlled.

To manage the symptoms of canine seborrhea, medicated shampoos and coat conditioners are used. In addition, topical steroid and antibiotic preparations are used.

The shampoos must be selected according to the type of seborrhea (oily or dry) from which the dog is suffering.

It is recommended that the hair surrounding the affected area be clipped or shaved so that the shampoo can get to the skin easier.

**Warning: In May 2011, the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine issued a warning regarding a seborrhea shampoo called Douxo Seborrhea Shampoo (by Sogeval Laboratories). The warning was issued as a result of asthma attacks in 2 dog parents (in the same family) while using this shampoo to wash their dog. One of the dog parents died as a result. Therefore, FDA warned dog owners with asthma to consult their doctors before considering using this shampoo.

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Natural Remedies for Canine Seborrhea

From a holistic point of view, seborrhea, like all other types of skin disorders, has a close relationship with a dog's diet and the immune system of the dog.

If a dog is fed natural, wholesome food and has a strong immune system, she is less likely to develop skin disorders such as seborrhea.

With that in mind, if you have a dog with canine seborrhea, you should pay attention to the following:

  • Diet with Natural Supplements

    Your dog should be fed natural, nutritious, well-balanced food. Natural supplements such as fatty acids, digestive enzymes, and vitamins (in particular, vitamins A, C, and E) should be given.

    Here is an effective supplement formula:

    It contains enzymes, probiotics, vitamins, and minerals needed to maintain your dog's healthy skin and glossy coat.

  • Use Herbs to Support the Immune System

    Herbal supplements that contain immune-boosting herbs (such as echinacea) as well as herbs that has blood cleansing properties (such as Oregon grape, sarsaparilla, red clover) can be given to a dog with recurrent chronic skin problems to cleanse and detoxify the blood and to strengthen immunity.

    With a strong immune system, skin disorders such as seborrhea can be kept in check. One good herbal supplement that contains the above herbs and more is:

    Another great natural product is a soft chew which your dog would love to have:

    It has a lot of herbs that support skin health (e.g. burdock, red clover, yellow dock, calendula) and the soft chew is a perfect way to supplement your dog!

  • Use Herbs to Relieve Itching and Inflammation

    There are a lot of useful herbs and herbal products that can effectively relieve itching and inflammation. Visit our page on Itch Relief for Dogs for more information.

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    A Homeopathic Remedy to Relief Seborrhea Symptoms

    It takes time to build up a dog's immune system, especially if the dog has been weakened by extended use of antibiotics.

    If you want to give your dog some quick relief from the various symptoms caused by seborrhea while she is building up her immunity by herbs, consider this homeopathic remedy.

    It contains ingredients such as Arsenicum album (for itch relief), Calcarea and Staphysagria (promotes healing), Graphites (for skin eruptions), and Sulphur (for dry, flaky skin). It is safe and effective and usually acts rather quickly.

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