There is a canine condition commonly referred to as walking dandruff. Though, it is actually a skin parasite: Cheyletiella mites. (Also called Cheyletiella mange).
The presence of these mites may appear to be dandruff, but if you look for a long enough time you will actually see movement, letting you know that your Yorkie has a much different issue.
In some cases, the mites themselves will be seen moving around; in other cases, the presence of the mites causes skin to flake off. The mites live under those skin flakes- when they move, the tiny specks of skin flakes wobble around or are carried on the backs of the parasites.
There is a rise in this parasite, and one of the main reasons is that most owners use some sort of flea control and most flea control products have no effect on Cheyletiella mites. This can affect dogs of any age
, though most cases are seen with young puppies
These types of mites jump from host to host and can be found on dogs, cats, many wild animals, rabbits and even sometimes on humans. Therefore, if a Yorkshire Terrier has Walking Dandruff, the mites can jump to his owner.
Aside from the obvious movement that you will see when you look closely at this Walking Dandruff, the only other sign that differs from real dandruff is that with many dogs, the mites tend to nest on the main trunk of the dog (keeping away from head, legs, etc.)
Your vet will diagnose this by taking a small skin scraping or by simply applying a small piece of adhesive tape to the coat to lift off specimens. Under a microscope, 4 legs can clearly be seen, along with eggs that have been hatched and sometimes tiny bits of fecal matter.
If you suspect that your Yorkie has Walking Dandruff, you may be tempted to give him a bath; however this can wash off quite a few of the pests which can make the veterinarian's job just a tad harder. If the appointment is soon, hold off on baths, as you will be given prescribed medication to apply.
There are several treatments for this: Pyrethrin shamoo, lime sulfer dips, Fipronil spray, Selamectin solution and Ivermectin. Depending on which type of treatment the vet prescribes, the coat will need to be treated anywhere from 3 weeks to 45 days.
All pets in the house will need to be treated. Additionally, since mites that can jump to other surfaces and lay eggs in carpeting etc., the house and all bedding, clothing, etc. will need to be treated in the same way that one would treat for fleas. Once a mite has left its host, it can live for up to 10 days.
Once you know that you are not dealing with a more common dry skin issue and that your Yorkie does not have an infection of mites (Walking Dandruff), you will want to treat the dandruff.
NOTE: As we talked about above, an actual dandruff disorder is caused by a more rapid than normal Keratinocytes process (the production of skin cells). The rate of Keratinocytes cannot be changed.
Therefore, you will treat your Yorkie to descale the coat, calming any irritation and itchiness and moisture the skin to fight the dryness.
When the right product is used consistently, most Yorkies respond so well that flaking is drastically reduced and after a short while (2 to 3 months) you may never spot dandruff spotting again - though do remember that your dog's body is still going to have its own overactive Keratinocytes process.
1. The Right Product.
While we have more tips and advice ahead, the #1 most important element to treating this will be to use a quality canine dandruff shampoo. These are much different than 'normal' shampoos, as they will contain either specialized ingredients such as chlorhexidine gluconate, miconazole Nitrate or have a blend of natural ingredients that work together to treat dandruff (Aloe vera, almond oil ,collagen, coconut, apple, and lemon).
It is important to note that the use of human dandruff shampoos is not recommended, as they are extremely harsh on a dog's skin and may cause additional issues.
The best dandruff shampoo for Yorkies will do several things:
- Descale the skin (Remove any bits of skin that have died but have not yet fallen off)
- Calm and soothe (relive itchiness and any irritation)
- Add moisture (which will then cut down on flaking quite a bit)
- Work as a degreaser (this refers to the removal of the oily greasy like substance that can be found on the coat along with dandruff)