Fish Oil for Cat Dandruff

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Use a brush, along with a fish oil supplement, to keep your cat's coat free of dandruff.
Use a brush, along with a fish oil supplement, to keep your cat's coat free of dandruff. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

If your cat develops dry, flaky skin that you can see on its coat, it suffers from dandruff. This condition, that usually also results in itchiness, has many causes, including allergies, parasites, seborrhea or an infection of the skin. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, fish oil supplementation can provide natural relief for your cat's dry skin and itching, as part of its treatment plan.

Identification

Fish oil, derived from the oily tissues of marine life, such as mackerel, herring, tuna, halibut, salmon, cod liver, whale blubber or seal blubber, can help treat a variety of inflammatory conditions, according to MedlinePlus. Fish oil supplements come in both capsule and oil formulations to mix into your cat's food daily. These supplements contain the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). A cat cannot naturally produce these essential fatty acids and must obtain them in its diet. When choosing a fish oil supplement for your cat, purchase only one approved to give to pets and follow the dosage instructions on the label.

Cat Dandruff

One of the most common causes of itching, also called pruritis, and dandruff, are fleas. Other causes include atopy, lice, mites, skin allergens, ringworm fungal infections and dry or oily seborrhea. Obese cats cannot reach their hind quarters or base of the tail to properly groom themselves. These cats develop flaking skin due to a lack of proper grooming and hygiene. Cats on a low-fat diet may not get the proper amount of essential fatty acids, leading to dry skin and dandruff. Fish oil supplementation help to reduce inflammation, itching and dryness, eliminating dandruff and making your cat's coat shinier and softer, according to Vetinfo.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

The ingredients contained in fish oil, EPA and DHA, decrease the inflammatory response of arachidonic acid (AA) in skin cells. When a cell becomes damaged, it produces AA, a chemical that increases inflammation and itching after enzymes in the body metabolize it. The damaged cell also produces EPA that, along with DHA, metabolized by the same enzymes. Once metabolized, these substances produce anti-inflammatory chemicals that reduce skin inflammation. Having larger amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, prevents AA from causing inflammation. It also increases the moisturization of the skin, reducing flaking and dryness.

Dandruff Treatment

Fish oil supplements designed for cats help to control and cure your cat's dandruff, along with prescription medications to treat the underlying cause, if one exists. Antibacterial or antifungal creams eliminate skin infections, flea treatments get rid of the fleas on the coat, and topical shampoos provide relief from mites, infections and itching. Use these treatments in conjunction with fish oil supplementation to increase their effectiveness. Fish oil supplements work well with antihistamines and glucocorticoids (a type of hormone-based drug), reducing the need for these drugs by up to 50 percent, according to PetEducation.com. You need to administer the supplements for 9 to 12 weeks before you see any improvement in the dandruff.

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