Trying to find out why your German Shorthair pointer has dandruff and how to fix it? This is a question I’m asked so often here, so I thought today I’d address it.
But before I do, just remember I’m not a vet, so if you have genuine concerns about your GSP puppy and what I say here doesn’t ease them in any way, then go and seek advice from a professional.
For now though, stick around and find out more, because I’m pretty certain what I’m about to say will shock you.
Dandruff is skin that flakes from the scalp. It’s often itchy and flakey and not very pleasant for us humans. So what does it mean if your GSP puppy has dandruff?
Well, actually, they don’t have dandruff at all. I know, I was shocked too as I was researching this subject for today’s post, because I’ve always thought that Hank had dandruff.
But it turns out that’s not the case. We call it dandruff because it’s easy for us to identify, but actually GSPs with dandruff have a skin condition that causes their skin to flake.
Yes, it’s very similar to dandruff, but the causes of it are not the same as dandruff in humans.
So why do GSPs get this? And what can you do to help them? Well, we’ll get on to that in a moment. For now though, let me tell you a little more about your GSPs coat.
I’ve spoken before on this blog about a GSP’s double coat. But just in case you forgot, this just means that they have two layers of hair.
The top layer is what we see, the longer, finer hairs, but the bottom layer is shorter and not as easy for us to see. It’s these shorter hairs that cause skin problems for GSPs.
That’s because these shorter hairs are actually water-repellent. It’s great for your GSP in the water because they don’t get soaked through to the bone, but it’s not so great for their skin.
If a GSP’s hair is working hard to keep out water, then it’s also working hard to keep out moisture. No moisture on your GSP’s skin will cause it to dry out.
You can probably already see where I’m going now, but essentially GSPs get dry skin because of their double coats. Well, they are more prone to dry skin because of their coats.
The actual reason they develop this ‘dandruff’ like skin condition is not always clear, so it may involve a little trial and error to see what helps your puppy. Read on to the next section for a list of potential causes.
Why Do They Get ‘Dandruff’?
It’s really difficult to say exactly why your GSP puppy has this dandruff. I had to try out so many different things to help Hank, but eventually I found what worked for him to give his coat that healthy shine and to stop him from getting flakey, itchy skin.
But before I tell you the different things you can try to help fix the problem, let’s see if we can work out what’s causing the problem for your GSP puppy to begin with.
Here are some possible reasons for the ‘dandruff’:
- Fleas/Mites/Lice and other parasites
- Poor diet
- Dry environment
- Lack of exercise
That list doesn’t cover every potential cause because there are too many to name.
But, let’s look at all those potential causes above in slightly more detail so you can understand why your GSP might develop dry skin and ‘dandruff’.
Fleas, mites, lice – whatever it may be, can all cause your GSP to get itchy, dry skin that will eventually flake.
If your GSP isn’t prone to dry skin (some are blessed like that, unfortunately my Hank isn’t one of them) then look for signs of parasites.
GSPs are high energy dogs, so they need a high energy diet. If you aren’t feeding them the correct food for them, then their fur can become dull, their skin can become drier, and eventually their skin will flake.
Make sure you’re feeding them a diet that is high in fat and protein to give them the most amount of energy for the day.
Just like humans, your GSP puppy might simply be allergic to something. If it’s turning to summer or spring, then there may be some plants in your local area that are causing your puppy’s flakey skin condition.
Don’t just look externally either, some dogs get dry, itchy skin because of food allergies too.
It may simply be that the air quality in your house isn’t very good. If it’s particularly dry, then this won’t help your GSP whose coat is already working against them when trying to absorb moisture into their skin to keep it healthy.
It sounds odd, but anxiety can cause itchy, flakey skin. It may be that they’re itching and scratching constantly when you’re not there.
GSPs are prone to becoming anxious when their owners leave them, so stop and think, maybe your GSP is getting anxious when left alone and is scratching without you realizing it.
Again, it comes back to the high-energy personalities of all GSPs. If they aren’t getting enough exercise, then they’ll do anything to release that pent-up energy, including itching and scratching their already dry skin.
How Can You Fix It?
There are lots of things you can do to help with their dry skin. If it’s really bad, then seek professional advice because there will be things your vet can suggest to make it easier on you and your GSP that I simply can’t.
But, if it’s just a little dandruff here and there, then try any of the following things to help ease dry, flakey skin in GSPs:
- Treat them for parasites like fleas and mites
- Change their diet to one with healthier fats and proteins for their active lifestyle
- Change their food in case of allergies and make sure they aren’t rolling around in plants or grass when pollen is high
- Look for ways to add more moisture to your home i.e. humidifiers and natural plants
- Try not to leave your GSP puppy alone for too long
- Make sure your GSP gets plenty of exercise
- Don’t bathe them too often, because this can speed up the dryness of their skin
There are plenty of reasons your GSP puppy might have dandruff, but there are also plenty of things you can try to make that better for them.
If none of my tips help you out, then talk to a vet who will be able to advise you about your next steps.