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Two of my four cats (the two elder) have recently developed TERRIBLE horrific dandruff. Since it developed at about the same time as the cold weather and increased use of home heating, I believe their skin is dry because it's winter and the air is drier.

Can I treat this at home? On my own skin I would apply lotion, but that doesn't work on cat skin. How can I increase the moisture on their skin?

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Adding or increasing the amount of fish oil in their diet can be extremely helpful. Brushing is also important to make sure that there isn't a lot of loose hair that is reducing air flow next to the skin. You can use a humidifier or even just let water steam on the stove to help increase the humidity in the room. Instead of attempting a bath just use a wet cloth to wipe them down... they may even enjoy that a bit.

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Medicated shampoos (usually have tar in them) designed to treat the symptoms of seborrhea, which includes dandruff, in cats may be used to deal with the dandruff. Though I would vet check before doing it just to be sure.

You may want to determine if your cats actually have seborrhea as there are dietary options to help bring it under control including hypoallergenic foods and supplements. If there is an underlying cause, having it addressed or managed may keep your cats from experiencing the joys of the bath tub...

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  • Ginger does have allergies, and we feed food that excludes her allergies based on blood testing. I'm hesitant to jump straight into the bathtub because we did baths last fall for the skin condition that turned out to be a mite, and I'm not sure everyone has recovered from the trauma. – Zaralynda Dec 24 '14 at 2:41
  • @Zaralynda - I don't think you're sorting out a dandruff issue without some form of water getting involved... – John Cavan Dec 24 '14 at 3:22
  • Some of the pet shampoos work more like the hand sanitizers that absorb into the skin. Which isn't to say the cats will enjoy having goop rubbed into their fur. – Kate Paulk Dec 24 '14 at 11:46

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