Pet Education

Browse our veterinary-reviewed Dog and Cat Illness Guide to learn more about pet health. Always talk to your veterinarian if you have a concern about your pet's symptoms or health.
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Canine Seborrhea

Seborrhea is a skin condition where the sebaceous glands in the skin produce too much sebum (an oily substance that lubricates the skin and hair). This causes the skin to be scaly, itchy, and red.

There are two types of Seborrhea:

  1. Dry Seborrhea: dry, flaky skin
  2. Oily Seborrhea: smelly, greasy scales and sticky, brown oil patches

Most affected dogs have dry and oily Seborrhea at the same time.


Seborrhea is usually secondary to an underlying issue, including:

In these cases, the dog will not show scaling at a young age. It will only develop from scratching due to other skin problems.

When there is no underlying issue, it is known as idiopathic or primary Seborrhea. In these cases, it is usually genetic, and scales will form at a young age.


Seborrhea usually affects places with many sebaceous glands, including the back, underside, thighs, feet, armpits, and neck.

Signs include:


Tests that your veterinarian will perform to diagnose Seborrhea and to check for underlying conditions may include:


The underlying condition must be treated. There is no cure for Seborrhea itself, but it is manageable with:

After the skin is cleared up within a few weeks of treatment, you must bring your dog to the veterinarian for a follow-up.


If your dog has genetic Seborrhea, you can only manage it. A healthy diet with enough fatty acids is an excellent way to prevent the condition caused by underlying issues.


There is a good prognosis if you treat the underlying cause successfully.

Medically Reviewed by Sara Ochoa, DVM 

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