Dandruff is a common problem in many animal species, even cats. It is defined as the shedding of dead skin flakes and appear as small white spots on your cat's fur, especially if it's dark. Most of the time, dandruff is minor and doesn't cause any problem. Other times, it can be severe and may indicate either a need to treat a medical condition or a need to change your grooming routine. Here are reasons why a cat may have bad dandruff and what you can do to alleviate the problem.

Common causes of cat dandruff:

Medical, environmental and genetic issues all play a factor in the type and severity of a dandruff problem. Minor issues include food sensitivities, dry conditions, and even age which can cause your cat's skin to dry out and become irritated. Poor grooming, either due to the cat having health issues or lack of routine care, such as brushing, can also contribute to the problem. More serious reasons are diabetes, allergic dermatitis, fungal infections and parasites. In these cases, you will see more than just simple flakes, but also skin redness, bumps and swelling. Your cat will scratch often and may even lose noticeable patches of fur.

Reducing or eliminating the dandruff:

Simple problems usually require simple changes. For example, you can change your cat's diet and eliminate certain foods and see if the condition improves. Your groomer can suggest certain shampoos and moisturizers that are pet friendly. In between trips to the groomer, regular brushing of both long-haired and short-haired cats is very beneficial to their skin. Serious problems, however, often require medical attention and treatment. Parasites can spread to other animals and sometimes humans, so it's important to identify the problem as soon as possible. If your cat has serious itching, swelling or is missing fur, take him or her or a veterinarian to rule out anything serious.

Benefits of regular professional grooming:

While regular brushing at home helps reduce dandruff problems, regular professional grooming also has many benefits. Bathing with a moisturizing shampoo helps reduce skin irritants such as dirt and oils that can inflame skin and cause more dandruff and shedding. Cats who have health problems, such as arthritis, or who can't groom themselves normally, must have regular help from their owners or a professional groomer. Long-haired and hairless cats, especially, can benefit from more intensive grooming. Groomers can also identify some problems early before they get out of hand, and give you ideas on how to remedy them. Contact a business, such as Columbine Animal Hospital & Emergency Clinic, for more information.