Greasy, oily fur is a common complaint among dog owners. It’s no surprise that you are here today. Furthermore, to make matters worse, greasy fur can have multiple causes, from dietary deficiencies to skin infections. So, how can you treat oily dog fur, and how can you prevent it from reoccurring in the future? Today, I am going to be sharing all.
So, how can I get rid of oily dog fur? To get rid of oily dog fur, you first need to determine the cause by checking with your vet. Depending on the diagnosis, you may be prescribed treatments such as medicated shampoos or dietary changes. Regular check-ups and keeping your dog at a healthy weight will help to prevent further issues.
With this in mind, let’s delve into the causes in further detail to help you try to identify what’s going on with your dog.
Then we’ll look at what you can do going forward.
So keep reading!
Why Do Dogs Get Oily Fur?
Dogs get oily fur as a result of excess oil secretions, which can be normal for the breed, or caused by medical conditions, including; primary Seborrhea, hypothyroidism, Diabetes, autoimmune disease, Cushing disease, or lymphoma disease, or lifestyle factors such as food allergies, skin sensitivities, mite infestations or vitamin deficiencies.
Dogs can get oily fur for a wide variety of reasons.
The condition is caused by the overproduction of oil and sebum (a waxy substance designed to protect the skin) by the skin glands.
These oils are important because they trap dirt and create a barrier to prevent pathogens from entering the body.
For instance, if your dog gets a cut, these oils will prevent bacteria from entering, which may cause an infection.
Without these oils, your dog’s skin can become irritated.
Their coats may also become more brittle and thinner because skin oils and sebum work to keep the coat healthy and shiny.
However, sometimes the body can overproduce these oils, resulting in greasy-looking skin.
This can also become a problem, so it’s important to understand the causes and treatment options.
Excess oil secretions can cause numerous issues, including:
- Flaking of the skin and dandruff
- Skin infections
Too much oil can also trap pests and pathogens against the skin, causing further issues.
Here are some of the more common causes of oily dog fur:
Seborrhea is the medical term used to describe the illness that causes an overproduction of sebum and oil.
Most cases of Seborrhea are caused by another existing skin condition, such as an allergy or vitamin deficiency.
This is referred to as secondary Seborrhea. However, this illness can also have a genetic base, so it’s passed down from parent to puppy.
This is known as Primary Seborrhea.
Primary Seborrhea causes a dog to have abnormal skin cells, which can lead to the production of excess skin oils.
Symptoms usually start to appear when a dog is around two years of age, and it’s more likely to affect certain dog breeds, including:
- Cocker Spaniels
- English Springer Spaniels
- Basset Hounds
- German Shepherds
- Golden Retrievers
- West Highland White Terriers
Dogs with Seborrhea will generally have flaky skin that tends to be more pronounced in areas of the body that are heavy in sebaceous (oil) glands, such as down the back, the flanks, neck, and face.
They will also have a greasy, oily-looking coat. Symptoms are typically worse in and around skin folds, such as between the toes, under the tail, and on the belly.
If left untreated, Seborrhea can lead to yeast or bacterial infections.
Unfortunately, there is no treatment for Primary Seborrhea.
However, the condition can be managed with medicated shampoos and vitamin supplements.
One of the most common causes of a greasy coat is a food allergy or intolerance. Common culprits include wheat, corn, and soy.
However, artificial colorings and flavorings may also be responsible.
High-quality diets that contain a good portion of free-range meat are the best option for dogs with food allergies.
Skin allergies can have multiple triggers, including fleas, dust, mold, pollen, and grasses.
Symptoms often flare up when dogs come into contact with these allergens.
These can include hair loss, excessive scratching, a runny nose, and irritated, flaky skin.
This is an endocrine disorder that causes bodily functions to slow down due to an underactive thyroid.
Symptoms include lethargy and weight gain, as well as skin and coat changes.
Another endocrine disease that is fairly common in dogs in which the body is unable to produce enough insulin.
Insulin is responsible for turning food into energy, so without it, cells can become starved of energy.
There are three types of Diabetes that can affect dogs, these are:
- Type I – This is the most common type of Diabetes seen in dogs. It destroys insulin-secreting cells, so dogs with this form will need to take insulin supplements for the rest of their lives.
- Type II – This form of Diabetes is strongly related to obesity. It causes the pancreas to produce less insulin and respond less efficiently to the insulin that is secreted. This leads to higher levels of glucose in the blood.
- Type III – This is usually caused by pregnancy. It’s fairly uncommon in dogs but can be fatal.
Autoimmune diseases cause the body to attack its own cells.
Various types of autoimmune diseases can cause skin lesions and a greasy coat, including pemphigus foliaceus, lupus erythematosus, and sebaceous adenitis.
Mites irritate the skin, which can lead to hair loss and itchy skin.
Dogs that suffer from reoccurring infections can develop oily, flaky skin and weeping sores.
If not treated, these infections can cause a dog to become emaciated.
Also known as hyperadrenocorticism, Cushing’s disease is caused by an overactive adrenal gland that produces too much stress hormone (cortisol).
It’s more commonly seen in older dogs over the age of seven years.
Cutaneous Epitheliotropic Lymphoma
This is a type of cancer that affects the skin.
Symptoms show as ulcerated or infected patches on the skin, particularly around the nose, lips, and gums, as well as skin changes.
Skin issues such as flaky skin and oily fur can also be caused by various vitamin deficiencies that occur as a result of an improper diet.
These include Zinc and Vitamin A deficiencies.
Normal Response From Particular Breeds
Bear in mind that some breeds are designed to have oilier coats than others.
For example, Labradors were bred to help fishermen haul nets to catch cod in the waters surrounding Newfoundland.
As a result, they have incredibly waterproof coats.
The undercoat traps heat, which prevents them from getting too cold when diving into icy water, and they naturally secrete a large amount of oil to repel water.
Saying that, if you notice your dog’s coat is excessively greasy or is giving off a foul smell, you will want to get them to a vet for a check-up because there could be an underlying health condition that needs addressing.
How Can I Get Rid Of Oily Fur On My Dog?
Oily fur has a variety of different causes. So, to get rid of it, you will first need to get your dog checked over by your vet.
Only then will you be able to treat the condition.
Potential Veterinary Tests
- Cutaneous Cytology: Taking a skin scraping to look for signs of mites, fleas, bacterial or fungal infections.
- Diagnostic tests: These include a complete blood count, biochemical profile, and urinalysis to determine if any hormone imbalances or allergies are present. They will also test thyroid hormone levels to see if your dog is suffering from hypothyroidism.
- A biopsy: If cancer or an autoimmune disease is suspected.
Potential Treatment Options
Treatment will vary depending on the diagnosis. However, they can include
- Medicated shampoos
- Antiparasitic drugs
- Hormone replacement therapies and medications
- Antibiotics or antifungals
- A hypoallergenic food trial
The treatment for Primary Seborrhea is more likely to be regular medicated baths with anti-seborrhea shampoos.
These generally should be done once every 2-3 days to begin with until symptoms begin to decrease.
You may also be prescribed prednisone to soothe any inflammation.
It’s important to remember that the severity of the condition as well as the available treatment options, will vary depending on the cause of oily skin and whether any other symptoms are present.
If your dog is just suffering from a mild case of flaky skin and oil fur, then you can try bathing them in an oatmeal mixture.
Other options you can try include aloe vera and peppermint essential oil. However, if you are concerned, it’s always best to seek the advice of a vet.
How To Stop Your Dog From Having Oily Fur In The Future
Oily fur is a common problem in canines.
Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to reduce the likelihood of the problem reoccurring:
Use Regular Flea and Parasite-preventative Medications
This is especially important if your dog suffers from pest allergies. You can purchase these medications from most pet stores.
However, the best option is to get them directly from your veterinarian because they will be able to guide you on the best brand to use.
Most flea and parasite-preventative medications should generally be applied once every 1-3 months to prevent infection.
Keep Your Dog On A High Quality Diet
Cheap dog kibble, which contains high levels of fillers, such as wheat and soy, is often the main cause of food allergies in dogs.
To avoid this, keep your dog on a diet that is specifically tailored to their needs.
You will particularly want to ensure that it contains a high percentage of meat protein as well as a variety of vegetables to maintain a healthy coat and skin.
Keep Your Dog At A Healthy Weight
Obesity can cause several detrimental health issues, including skin conditions and thyroid problems.
So, it’s essential that you maintain portion control and limit snacking.
It’s also a good idea to regularly schedule check-ups with your vet, so you can pick up on any problems early on.
Use Omega-3 Supplements
Omega-3 is a group of polyunsaturated fats, usually derived from fish as well as leafy green vegetables and nuts.
This has become a very popular dietary supplement for canines in recent years as it promotes overall health, plays a vital role in hormone control, and can help the body to absorb other essential vitamins.
Omega-3 is an inflammatory supplement that can also support the joints as well as skin and coat vitality.
If you are unsure of the best supplements to use, it’s best to speak to your vet for advice.
Finish All Courses Of Prescribed Medications
If your dog has been found to have an underlying health condition that is contributing to oily fur, you will probably have been prescribed a course of medication.
It’s essential that you stick to the instructions on the packet and those given to you by your vet.
Similarly, you should make sure you finish all courses of medication, even if your dog seems to be better.
Stopping medication early can cause the remaining hidden bacteria to become resistant to further treatment.
This will make them much harder to treat in the long run.
Depending on the condition, some medications will be life-long. If this is the case, it can be beneficial to set up a schedule so you don’t forget to offer a dose.
Use Shampoo Products Specifically Designed For Oily Dog Fur
Avoid any shampoos containing harsh chemicals, as these can damage the skin.
Instead, choose natural shampoo products that contain soothing ingredients such as aloe vera and eucalyptus.
This particular product from Amazon is exactly what you should buy and use.
Remember to not bathe your dog too often unless advised to by your vet because regular bathing can lead to dry, irritated skin.
It can also cause the skin glands to produce even more oil than normal.
Oily dog fur is something you likely really want to address. Besides, there’s nothing worse than that greasy look and feel, especially when it comes to stroking.
Just consider here that some breeds have oilier fur than others; for some dogs, it is, in fact, protective.
The issue is when excess oil is produced, that is not normal for the breed or normal for your dog.
That’s when you should approach a vet.
And be sure you do.
At-home treatments and remedies may seem like the cheaper, easier approach.
But you don’t want to exacerbate the problem or cause new problems from inappropriate products or techniques.
So, err on the side of caution and ask the experts.
From there, you’ll be able to implement a sound approach to reduce the oily fur and keep it that way, going forward.
Related guides you may want to read:
- How To Get Rid Of Dog Ear Infection Smell
- How To Get Rid Of Dog Gland Smell On Furniture
- How To Get Rid Of Chiggers On Dog
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.