10 Best Cat Foods for Dandruff in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks


Dry skin is one of the most common causes of dandruff in both humans and cats. If you’re noticing your cat sporting more white flakes on their fur than usual, they may be dealing with dandruff. Thankfully, this is a pretty common skin condition in cats and is usually the result of treatable health issues.

If you and your veterinarian believe that skin issues are causing your cat’s dandruff, a new fatty acid-rich diet may be necessary. Read on to find our reviews of the ten best cat foods for dandruff, as well as our buying guide to help you understand everything you need to know about this skin condition, including what causes it and what you can do to help reduce your kitty’s flaky skin.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2024

The 10 Best Cat Foods for Dandruff

1. Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Dry Cat Food – Best Overall

Hill's Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Original Flavor Dry Cat Food

Main ingredients: Brewers Rice, Hydrolyzed Chicken Liver, Rice Protein Concentrate, Powdered Cellulose, Soybean Oil
Protein content: 29.0% min
Fat content: 10.5% min
Calories: 408 kcal/cup

Our choice for the best overall cat foods for dandruff is Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Original Flavor Dry Cat Food. This kibble provides complete and balanced nutrition formulated by Hill’s veterinary nutritionists for cats with food sensitivities or intolerances. So, if your cat’s dandruff is being caused by skin irritation, this food can help address that.

Additionally, it may improve digestion and your cat’s stool quality, too. It is made with highly digestible proteins that work to minimize the chance that your cat will react adversely to their food. It contains antioxidants that can promote better immune system health and skin barrier functioning. Finally, it has no potentially irritating ingredients such as artificial colors, lactose, or soy protein.

This food is only available with vet authorization, so you’ll need to have your kitty evaluated at your clinic to be able to purchase this food.

Pros

  • Can help manage dietary sensitivities
  • May promote immune system health
  • Can address skin issues that cause dandruff
  • Does not contain artificial colors
  • Can improve stool quality

Cons

  • Can only be received via prescription

2. Tiki Cat Special Function Formula Salmon Wet Cat Food –              Best Value

Tiki Cat Special Function Formula Skin & Coat Salmon Recipe in Broth Wet Cat Food

Main ingredients: Salmon Broth, Salmon, Chicken, Dried Egg, Pumpkin, Coconut Oil
Protein content: 10.0% min
Fat content: 5.0% min
Calories: 64 kcal/pouch

If you’re looking for the best cat food for dandruff for the money, check out Tiki Cat’s Special Function Formula Skin & Coat Salmon Recipe in Broth Wet Cat Food. This food has a soft mousse texture that’s chock full of flavor and easy to eat. It is made with non-GMO ingredients and features a high protein content thanks to its inclusion of real salmon and chicken. The formula has been supplemented with skin health-boosting ingredients such as coconut and tuna oil to cut back on how much dandruff is present. This food comes in easy-to-serve pouches that provide cats with the high moisture they need to stay hydrated. However, this high-fluid formula may not be a hit with cats that prefer a chunkier texture.

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Soft and easy to eat
  • Made with non-GMO ingredients
  • Includes skin-boosting ingredients
  • Easy to serve

Cons

  • May not be textured enough for some cats

3. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Adult Selected Protein PD Cat Food – Premium Choice

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Adult Selected Protein PD Loaf Canned Cat Food

Main ingredients: Water Sufficient For Processing, Duck, Duck Liver, Pea Flour, Duck By-Product Meal
Protein content: 9.0% min
Fat content: 5.3% min
Calories: 160 kcal/can

If you don’t have a strict budget to adhere to, our premium choice—Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Adult Selected Protein PD Loaf Canned Cat Food—is a great option to consider. Though this formula is pricey, it provides high-quality, complete, and balanced nutrition for your kitty. It contains omega-3 fatty acids to support the skin’s natural protective barrier to promote optimal skin health. The formula contains antioxidants to support overall cell health, too. The nutrients present in this wet food can reinforce the skin barrier to help address skin irritation. This is a great formula for cats with certain food sensitivities, as the protein present is derived from peas and ducks.

This food is only available via prescription from your veterinarian.

Pros

  • Can support the skin’s natural protective barrier
  • Contains omega-3 fatty acids
  • Can promote cell health
  • Great for cats with sensitivities

Cons

  • Only available via prescription
  • High price tag

4. Instinct Original Kitten Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food –  Best for Kittens

Instinct Original Kitten Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken Freeze-Dried Raw Coated Dry Cat Food

Main ingredients: Chicken, Turkey Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Peas, Chicken Fat
Protein content: 42.5% min
Fat content: 22.5% min
Calories: 557 kcal/cup

If your kitten is presenting with dandruff issues, you need to choose a food that can address the flaky skin and still provide them with the essential nutrients they need to thrive in their kittenhood. Instinct’s Original Kitten Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken Freeze-Dried Raw Coated Dry Cat Food provides the best nutrition for your growing kitty while addressing their dandruff problem. This formula features a balanced mix of protein and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for proper brain and eye development. It contains live probiotics and natural omegas to support digestive, skin, and coat health. Instinct is known for its “raw on every piece” promise, where each piece of kibble is coated with freeze-dried raw nutrition to appeal to the animal’s natural carnivorous diet.

This formula has an awful scent that can make serving it rather bothersome for some owners.

Pros

  • Raw on every piece
  • Promotes brain and eye develop
  • Can support skin health to address dandruff
  • Designed specifically for kittens

5. Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Cat Food

Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Lamb & Rice Formula Dry Cat Food

Main ingredients: Lamb, Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken Meal, Soybean Meal
Protein content: 40.0% min
Fat content: 18.0% min
Calories: 539 kcal/cup

Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Lamb & Rice Formula Dry Cat Food is a great formula that can provide the skin-boosting benefits your kitty needs to address their skin problems. This formula features real lamb as the first and most prominent ingredient, providing your pet with a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Rice and corn gluten meal are the next ingredients. This formula is also recommended for cats with sensitive stomachs.

This formula is higher in calories than the other foods on this list, so if your cat is prone to weight gain or is already a bit on the chunky side, be careful with the portion size.

Pros

  • High in omega 3-fatty acids
  • Lamb is the first ingredient
  • Contains antioxidants

6. Forza10 Nutraceutic Active Line Dermo Dry Cat Food

Forza10 Nutraceutic Active Line Dermo Dry Cat Food

Main ingredients: Ground Rice, Anchovy Meal, Hydrolyzed Fish Protein, Fish Oil
Protein content: 28.0% min
Fat content: 13.0% min
Calories: 434 kcal/cup

The Forza10 Nutraceutic Active Line Dermo Dry Cat Food is a specially formulated kibble designed to address skin issues such as itching, crusting, dandruff, and fur loss in cats. It provides a limited-ingredient diet to eliminate the most common allergens, so it’s a great choice if you and your vet agree that your cat’s diet could be the reason behind their dandruff. This single-source protein food contains omega-3 fatty acids from Iceland-caught wild anchovies and is free of artificial additives and GMOs. This formula includes pomegranate, turmeric, and papaya to promote shiny coat and skin health.

This formula is very pricey, especially when compared to other options we’re looking at today.

Pros

  • Made without by-products of GMOs
  • Can address common skin problems
  • Made with omega-rich wild-caught anchovies
  • High in omega-3 fatty acids

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Protein is not the first ingredient

7. Taste of the Wild Canyon River Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Taste of the Wild Canyon River Trout & Smoke-Flavored Salmon Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Main ingredients: Trout, Ocean Fish Meal, Salmon Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Lentils
Protein content: 32.0% min
Fat content: 16.0% min
Calories: 424 kcal/cup

Taste of the Wild Canyon River Trout & Smoke-Flavored Salmon Grain-Free Dry Cat Food is a high-protein kibble formulated with vitamins and minerals to support overall health. Because fish is the only protein source, it may be a viable option for cats with food-related sensitivities causing their dandruff. This food contains a balanced blend of omega fatty acids to promote skin and coat health and species-specific probiotics to promote healthy digestive and immune systems. It’s formulated to meet the nutritional needs of your cat through every life stage.

This food is highly odorous, which can be problematic for owners with scent sensitivities. Additionally, it can be quite expensive depending on where you buy it.

Pros

  • High protein formula
  • Contains omega-3 fatty acids
  • Can promote digestive health
  • Good for all stages of life

8. I and Love and You Savory Salmon Pate Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

I and Love and You Savory Salmon Pate Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Main ingredients: Salmon, Chicken, Salmon Broth, Chicken Liver, Natural Flavor, Guar Gum
Protein content: 10.0% min
Fat content: 5.5% min
Calories: 93 kcal/can

The I and Love and You Savory Salmon Pate Grain-Free Canned Cat Food boasts a silky-smooth pate texture chock full of moisture to boost your kitty’s hydration levels. It features sustainably sourced salmon and is free of unhealthy fillers. It contains omegas 3 and 6 for coat and skin health, which may be beneficial in your fight against dandruff.

Because this food contains several sources of protein, it may not be the best option for owners who believe food allergies cause their cats’ dandruff. Some owners report their cat’s waste smells stronger after switching them to this food.

Pros

  • Promotes hydration
  • Contains fatty acids for skin and coat health
  • Made with sustainably sourced salmon

Cons

  • Not a great option if food allergies are suspected
  • May affect waste smells

9. Stella & Chewy’s Duck Duck Goose Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw

Stella & Chewy's Duck Duck Goose Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw

Main ingredients: Duck With Ground Bone, Turkey, Turkey Liver, Goose Turkey Gizzard, Pumpkin Seed
Protein content: 40.0% min
Fat content: 30.0% min
Calories: 224 kcal/cup

Stella & Chewy’s Duck Duck Goose Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw provides your kitty with real raw nutrition in a conveniently freeze-dried formula. You can choose to rehydrate this food with warm water or serve it as is, whichever your kitty prefers. This formula is made with 100% certified organic fruits and veggies and farm-raised meat. It can provide skin and coat support thanks to its natural oils and omega fatty acids. The formula features probiotics for digestive health and is designed for all life stages.

The food pieces are quite large and hard, and if you choose not to rehydrate them, they can be difficult for some cats to eat. Additionally, this food is very expensive.

Pros

  • Can be fed as is or rehydrated
  • Made with organic fruits and vegetables
  • Farm-raised meat
  • Contains omega fatty acids
  • Probiotics for digestive health

Cons

  • Pieces may be too hard or big
  • Expensive

10. AvoDerm Grain-Free Salmon Consomme Canned Cat Food

AvoDerm Grain-Free Salmon Entree Salmon Consomme Canned Cat Food

Main ingredients: Salmon (Source of Omega-3), Salmon Broth, Tricalcium Phosphate, Sunflower Oil, Guar Gum
Protein content: 13.0% min
Fat content: 2.0% min
Calories: 82 kcal/can

The AvoDerm Grain-Free Salmon Entree Salmon Consomme Canned Cat Food features salmon and salmon broth as the first two ingredients, providing your kitty with the fatty acids they need for better skin health. Additionally, the formula contains other fatty acid sources, such as avocado oil and sunflower oil, to further boost your pet’s skin and coat health. This recipe is designed for cats of all ages and provides a great source of hydration to promote optimal health further.

Avocado is a controversial pet food ingredient as it contains a toxin known as persin. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, however, only certain species can be poisoned by persin. Cats and dogs are “rarely affected.”

This food can be difficult to find and may only be available at very high prices.

Pros

  • Contains a high dose of omega fatty acids
  • Real salmon is the first ingredient
  • Promotes skin and coat health
  • Designed for cats of all ages

Cons

  • High price
  • Controversial ingredient (avocado)

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Buyer’s Guide: What You Need to Know About Choosing the Best Cat Food for Dandruff

cat eating food from bowl
Image Credit: Marina Demidiuk, Shutterstock

What Makes a Cat Food Good for Dandruff?

So, you’ve just finished reading about our ten food recommendations and may be wondering what it is about these ten products that make them good for cats with dandruff. The key appears to be omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega3-s like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are key for proper growth and development. They also have anti-inflammatory properties in many animal species and can be used for inflammatory diseases like skin allergies, arthritis, and even cancer. Because omega 3s are fat, they can help your kitty develop a fuller and shinier coat. Omega-3s can improve the health of the hair follicles, decreasing how much hair is shed. This is especially beneficial for high-shedding cats as it means fewer hairs will be shed, equating to fewer hairballs.

If you need another reason to choose a high omega fatty acid diet for your kitty, it’s that studies show cats getting higher doses of fish oil had healthier joints and were able to get around their homes better.

What Causes Cat Dandruff?

Dandruff occurs in cats as a direct result of dry skin most of the time. Kitties can develop dry skin for a myriad of reasons, including their diets, environmental factors, or dry indoor air. However, cats with predominantly oily skin can also get dandruff, as excessive oil on the skin can cause skin cells to flake away.

However, dry skin isn’t the only culprit. Cats with arthritis or obesity may have flaky skin as both conditions can make it difficult for the cat to get rid of the dead skin cells from their fur when they groom themselves.

Cats can also develop dandruff from external parasites like ticks or demodectic mange, bacterial or fungal infections, or malnutrition. So, if your cat is suddenly looking flakier than usual, you may wish to visit their veterinarian for a wellness exam to rule out any potentially serious causes.

cat fur with dandruff
Image Credit: Nau Nau, Shutterstock

Can a New Diet Really Help Control Dandruff?

Switching your cat’s diet can help control their dandruff if certain factors are causing it. For example, a cat whose flaky skin is being driven by untreated arthritis or obesity likely won’t see much improvement from a change in diet alone. Your vet may recommend pain control or a weight control diet. If a bacterial or fungal infection is to blame for your cat’s dandruff, they’ll need treatment from your veterinarian to see improvements. Infections may require antibiotics or antifungals.

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Additional Tips for Controlling Dandruff

Changing your cat’s food can greatly impact how much dandruff they produce. However, you can try several other remedies in conjunction with a food change to see if it helps.

Brush them daily

Brushing your cat with a slicker brush followed by a metal comb daily is an effective method for resolving dry skin problems. Slicker brushes can distribute your cat’s natural oils throughout their coat while releasing the dander and dead hair weighing down their follicles. Following up with the metal comb will remove any matting or clumps the brush can’t get.

Increase your home’s humidity

Low humidity is one of the most common causes of cat dandruff. If your indoor heating system removes moisture from the air, you and your kitty will develop dry skin. Adding a humidifier can restore lost moisture, addressing both dry skin issues.

cat sitting near humidifier
Image Credit; Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

Increase your cat’s hydration

Cats are notorious for not drinking enough water, which they require for optimal health. If you know your cat isn’t drinking enough, try adding wet food to their diet or switching out your water bowl for an electric fountain, which is supposed to help entice cats to drink more.

Talk to your vet

If your cat’s dandruff is caused by poor grooming due to arthritis or obesity, we recommend speaking with your veterinarian. They can provide recommendations on a diet to support their joints or weight loss efforts and may also make recommendations on supplements to try.

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Conclusion

The best overall cat food for dandruff is Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities for its ability to address food sensitivities and promote immune system health. For owners on tight budgets, the Tiki Cat Special Function Formula provides an affordable food specially formulated to address skin problems like dandruff. Those without a strict budget to adhere to should look at Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Adult Selected Protein PD Loaf for its ability to support the skin’s natural protective barrier, thus reducing dandruff. Finally, owners with kittens with dandruff should consider Instinct’s Original Kitten Recipe for its skin-supporting formula and focus on optimal kitten nutrition.

Dandruff can be a frustrating part of cat ownership, but it doesn’t have to be. Our reviews above should be helpful in addressing your cat’s dandruff if dietary issues cause it. We recommend speaking with your veterinarian before switching your kitty to a new food to ensure this is the right path to address your pet’s dandruff issues.


Featured Image Credit: Prystai, Shutterstock



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About the Author: Tony Ramos